Sustainable Development Goals and Corporate Actions: The Impacts of Corporate Interlocks and Institutional Logics on Corporate Social and Environmental Responsibility
The research examines corporate social and environmental responsibility (CSER) from the combined perspectives of structuralist political economy and institutionalist-modernization theory. In the first research chapter, a new CSER index is constructed using the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to provide a theoretical and methodological foundation for quantifying CSER. The SDGs are considered the leading articulation of the goals of global sustainable governance, and they assume an approach to corporations and environmental change that is consistent with reflexive and ecological modernization theories. The chapter draws on Freudenburg’s disproportionality thesis, which is based on a political economy perspective on corporations, and uses the analysis of SDGs to introduce the concept of social disproportionality. The chapter then demonstrates that there are leaders and laggards of both environmental and social corporate behavior. The second research chapter uses Sklair’s theory of the transnational capitalist class and global corporate citizenship, which uses a political economy framework to suggest that the most central large corporations prefer social over environmental responsibility goals. The chapter then uses the universal owner perspective, which shares similarities with the institutionalist-modernization tradition, to demonstrate that the most central corporations are capable of valuing both environmental and social goals. The third research chapter examines the idea of singular or successive institutional logics and develops empirical evidence that institutional logics can coexist. The chapter begins with the political economy perspective that assumes that the profit logic will tend to dominate over either a social or environmental responsibility logic, and it examines whether coexistence of institutional logics is possible among large U.S. corporations. In addition to finding the coexistence of logics, the chapter finds that company size and consumer-facing variables predict the coexistence of environmental and profit logics. In summary, the research shows how a political economy perspective can be combined with an institutionalization-modernization perspective to bring about new insights into the patterns of CSER. In the conclusion of the dissertation, policy recommendations are made, and future research topics are discussed.
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