This dissertation focuses on the influences of the presence of multinational enterprises (MNEs) on the overall level of corporate social responsibility (CSR) in host countries or regions through the joint effects of the presence of MNEs and the local institutional environment. It resides in the intersection of international business (IB) literature and corporate social responsibility (CSR) literature with the purpose of shedding new light on both literatures by combining and expanding both literatures. There are three essays.
The first essay is a conceptual study to comprehensively examine the antecedents of CSR activities, emphasizing the factors of the presence of MNEs and the increased globalization (i.e., the increased interconnections and interdependence among individuals and countries). We propose an integrated theoretical model based on a combined theoretical lens of institutional theory, stakeholder theory and social cognitive theory. We argue that the antecedents of CSR can be framed at multiple levels (i.e., societal level, organizational level and individual level), and firms not only reactively respond to social pressures but also proactively initiate CSR practices.
In order to further emphasize the effects of the presence of MNEs, two empirical studies (i.e., the second essay and the third essay) are conducted. The second essay examines the influence of the variant presence of MNEs on host countries’ institutions and the joint influence of these two factors on host countries’ overall CSR. The findings largely support our arguments that the presence of foreign MNEs positively influences overall CSR across host countries directly and indirectly via national level institutions. The third essay further exemplifies the effect of the heterogeneous presence of MNEs on local CSR across regions within an emerging economy, namely China, partially through the mediation effects of Chinese regional institutions. The findings largely support our arguments that the presence of foreign MNEs positively influences indigenous firms’ involvement in CSR-related activities directly and indirectly via regional institutions. The contributions, limitations and implications are discussed.