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Indirect Reciprocity and Corporate Philanthropic Giving: How Visiting Officials Influence Investment in Privately Owned Chinese Firms

Ming Jia, Yi Xiang and Zhe Zhang

Journal of Management Studies, 2019, vol. 56, issue 2, 372-407

Abstract: This study examines how privately owned firms that are listed on Chinese stock exchanges and often surrounded by Buddhist or Taoist temples use money to bind themselves to officials who can mitigate their underinvestment problems. Philanthropic giving is a traditional way of achieving this task. Based on social‐exchange theory, we consider the potential for indirect reciprocity, in which visiting officials do favours for local businesses that do favours for other social actors. We analyse whether China’s Buddhist and Taoist cultures influence how philanthropic giving induces visiting officials to do favors. We also examine temple locations and the behaviours of privately owned firms listed on Chinese stock exchanges from 2001 to 2012 in an empirical study that provides strong support for our arguments. Results show that philanthropic giving initiates and amplifies indirect reciprocity between visiting officials and local businesses, thereby increasing corporate investment. The magnitudes of these effects depend on the magnitude of religious norms. Our study thus illuminates the influence of visiting officials on corporate investment.

Date: 2019
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