Purdue University Graduate School

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Embedding CSR into the Heart of Strategy

posted on 2023-07-19, 22:08 authored by Ei Sandi NweEi Sandi Nwe

How do firms decide which corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiative to take on and when? The extant research has not been able to give definitive answers to these questions. As a result, despite CSR being an integral part of doing business today, many executives remain unsure about integrating CSR considerations into core strategy and decision makings. CSR is often considered in silos and not in conjunction with core corporate activities.  The three empirical essays in this dissertation seek to understand the role of CSR in corporate strategy, particularly in strategic alliance and mergers and acquisitions (M&A) contexts, and identify means through which CSR can be integrated into core strategic decision making. 

The first essay, titled “Honor by Association: Does a Partner’s CSR Matter in Strategic Alliances?” investigates the role of partner’s CSR in strategic alliances, i.e. whether CSR of a partner affects the focal firm’s value creation from the alliance. Drawing on the stakeholders-based view of strategic alliances and advancing relational capabilities perspective on CSR, I argue and provide evidence that, faced with information asymmetry and collaborative challenges, a focal firm can rely on CSR performance of the partner to make judgements about value creation potentials from the alliance.

The second essay, titled “CSR Learning: Does a Firm’s CSR Influence Its Partner’s CSR?”, extends my first essay and puts forth the notion of CSR-learning through CSR knowledge and capabilities transfer in strategic alliances. A central argument is that the extent of CSR engagements and practices of a firm has an impact on those of its partner(s) in an on-going alliance. 

Last but not least, the third essay is co-authored with Professor Ozmel and is titled “CSR in M&A: Does Relativity Matter?" This study examines the impact of relative CSR, defined as the extent to which a target’s CSR resources and capabilities are superior to those of the acquirer, on an acquiring firm’s value creation from M&A.  We contend that relative CSR matters in M&A as acquiring firms can gain access to superior CSR resources and capabilities to unlock relational and non-market synergies, resulting in additional value creation.


Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • Management

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Umit Ozmel

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee co-chair

Thomas Brush

Additional Committee Member 2

Heejung Byun

Additional Committee Member 3

Aseem Kaul

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