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    Social media, top managers’ characteristics, and corporate social (ir)responsibility

    Ye, Silin (2023) Social media, top managers’ characteristics, and corporate social (ir)responsibility. PhD thesis, Birkbeck, University of London.

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    This thesis focuses on corporate social responsibility (CSR) to explore three important determinants of corporate socially responsible or irresponsible behaviour from different theoretical perspectives. To understand what shapes firm social outcomes, existing literature has demonstrated a wide range of antecedents or determinants of CSR at the institutional, organizational, and individual levels. However, some potential institutional and managerial determinants have been overlooked, and this PhD project aims to fill these research gaps by conducting three empirical studies. At the institutional level, the first study examines the role of social media in improving CSR performance with an integrated institutional and resource dependence perspective. This study theorizes and proposes that, as the online public can provide legitimacy and resources for firms, social media can exert informal institutional pressures on CSR. The theoretical framework and hypotheses are tested by data from Chinese publicly listed firms and a representative social media platform-Sina Weibo (Chinese Twitter) between 2014 and 2018. The results show that firms with more attention or more positive sentiment from the public on social media perform better at CSR, and the positive relationships are weakened when firms are with higher state ownership or efficiency. This study contributes to the literature on the institutional determinants of CSR performance by highlighting the institutional role of social media as an under-researched informal institutional force. At the organizational and individual levels, the second and third studies address the managerial determinants of corporate social performance and corporate misconduct respectively. These two studies are building on upper echelons theory that suggests organizational outcomes could be explained by the characteristics of top managers (e.g., top management team, CEOs). For corporate social performance involving social impact on stakeholders and external interaction with society, the second study suggests CEO sociability as a potentially prominent determinant. Since the social media presence of CEOs shows their social participation and engagement tendency (being described as “social CEOs” in literature), this study examines whether social CEOs and the implication of their social media engagement have an impact on corporate social performance. A needs-affordances-consequences approach to social CEOs is developed to understand their underlying motives and ability for social contribution, as well as the moderating effect of CEOs’ social evaluation. Utilizing data of Chinese listed firms from 2009 to 2020, the empirical results show that firms with social CEOs have a higher level of corporate social performance than firms without social CEOs, and higher CEO status or better CEO reputation can further amplify this positive relationship. The second study enriches the upper echelons and CSR literature by demonstrating an unstudied but important managerial characteristic especially in the social media era that shapes firm social outcomes. The third study shifts the focus to a common form of corporate irresponsible behavior in emerging markets (i.e., accounting fraud) to discusses how the financial misconduct is shaped by top managers’ regulatory focus in China. Regulatory focus theory (RFT) proposes two kinds of regulatory focus motivating individuals, namely promotion focus (a sensitivity to gains and a desire for advancement) and prevention focus (a sensitivity to losses and a desire for security). Building on RFT and upper echelons theory, an analytical framework is built to examine whether the propensity for committing fraud varies with the types of top managers’ regulatory focus. Using a sample of 14,549 firm-year observations, the empirical findings indicate that, to ensure safety, the predominantly prevention-focused managers are more likely to commit fraud than the principally promotion-focused managers, and this positive relationship is strengthened with more negative feedback from the capital market or the media. This study extends the corporate fraud literature by introducing a novel and influential motivational attribute of top managers to explain why they engage in fraudulent behavior in the context of weak investor protection and severe principle-agent problems.


    Item Type: Thesis
    Copyright Holders: The copyright of this thesis rests with the author, who asserts his/her right to be known as such according to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. No dealing with the thesis contrary to the copyright or moral rights of the author is permitted.
    Depositing User: Acquisitions And Metadata
    Date Deposited: 10 Oct 2023 14:10
    Last Modified: 01 Nov 2023 16:19


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