CEO Materialism and Corporate Social Responsibility

Robert H Davidson
Pamplin School of Business, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Aiyesha Dey
Harvard Business School, Harvard University

Abbie J Smith
The University of Chicago Booth School of Business


We study the role of individual CEOs in explaining corporate social responsibility (CSR) scores. We find that CEO fixed-effects explain 59% of the variation in CSR scores, whereas firm fixed-effects explains 23% of the variation in CSR scores. Specifically, firms led by materialistic CEOs have lower CSR scores, fewer strengths, and more weaknesses. Finally, we document that CSR scores in firms with non-materialistic CEOs are positively associated with accounting and stock price performance. In contrast, CSR scores in firms with materialistic CEOs are unrelated to profitability.

Keywords: Executive materialism; corporate social responsibility, firm performance.

JEL Classification Codes: G30; G34; G38

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