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CEO Transformational Leadership and Corporate Social Responsibility

David A. Waldman (), Donald Siegel () and Mansour Javidan ()
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David A. Waldman: School of Management, Arizona State University West, Phoenix, AZ, USA
Mansour Javidan: Strategy and General Management Area, Haskayne School of Business, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Rensselaer Working Papers in Economics from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Department of Economics

Abstract: The overall purpose of this study is to apply transformational leadership theory to improve our understanding of the potential role of CEOs in determining the extent to which their firms engage in corporate social responsibility (CSR). We generate a theoretical argument for the existence of relationships between aspects of transformational leadership and CSR, which we test using data from 56 U.S. and Canadian firms. CEO intellectual stimulation (but not CEO charismatic leadership) is found to be positively associated with the propensity of the firm to engage in "strategic" CSR, or those CSR activities that are most likely to be related to the firm's corporate and business-level strategies. Thus, studies that ignore the role of leadership in CSR may generate imprecise conclusions regarding the antecedents and consequences of these activities. We conclude that there is a need for additional multidisciplinary research bridging micro- and macro-level conceptualizations of the role of leadership in CSR.

Date: 2004-06
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