Adoption of voluntary CSR initiatives: tales of the UN Global Compact.
Item statusRestricted Access
Embargo end date26/11/2019
Pérez-Rocha, Bertha Guadalupe
This thesis consists of three empirical studies investigating, from various perspectives, the corporate motivations to join one of the largest voluntary initiatives promoting sustainability: the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC). I employ three different statistical techniques, logistic regression analysis, event history analysis and structural equation modelling. The first study provides evidence from a field experiment on shareholder engagement effectiveness in general and on which tactics are more effective in engaging publicly traded firms. The experiment consists of an invitation letter sent by the Principles for Responsible Investment Clearinghouse, one of the largest worldwide coalition of investors, to encourage companies to sign up the United Nations Global Compact. I use a theoretical model for investor salience in order to understand the impact of the engagement. To the best of my knowledge, this is the first large-scale research on engagement using randomized controlled trials in the academic literature and in practice. The aim of the second study is three fold. First, most academic literature focuses on how the adoption of the UNGC impacts on the implementation of environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) performance; this study addresses how ESG performance shapes the CSR strategy, namely, the UNGC. Next, I explore to what extent the ESG performance of firms adopting the UNGC change over time. Finally, this paper investigates whether the existence of controversies is a determinant for joining the initiative. Results show that, in all cases, ESG performance is significant and positively related to the adoption of the Ten Principles. Furthermore, results show that ESG performance differs across different points in time. Contrary to my expectations, controversies have no influence on UNGC membership. The third and final study examines the effect of the characteristics of the board of directors on the adoption of the UNGC/GRI by US-based firms. I investigate whether and how a CSR oriented board chooses the UNGC/GRI as part of their firms reporting strategy. I also consider the level of environmental and social performance as a mediator for such a decision. Results show that there is a positive and significant relationship between the board and environmental and social performance, and between environmental and social performance and the adoption of voluntary CSR initiatives. This relationship is stronger for social performance and for the GRI. Overall, this thesis provides further evidence about motivations to join the UNGC. The outcomes of this thesis are of relevance for shareholders and investor coalitions, policy makers, and other groups of stakeholders. Theoretically, this thesis adds to the literature on shareholder engagement, strategy and corporate governance.