Looking Inside the Black Box: The Effect of Corporate Governance on Corporate Social Responsibility

Tanusree Jain*, Dima Jamali

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Manuscript Type: Review

Research Question/Issue: This study provides a systematic multi-level review of recent literature to evaluate the impact of corporate governance mechanisms (CG) at the institutional, firm, group, and individual levels on firm level corporate social responsibility (CSR) outcomes. We offer critical reflections on the current state of this literature and provide concrete suggestions to guide future research.

Research Findings/Insights: Focusing on peer-reviewed articles from 2000 to 2015, the review compiles the evidence on offer pertaining to the most relevant CG mechanisms and their influence on CSR outcomes. At the institutional level, we focus on formal and informal institutional mechanisms, and at the firm level, we analyze the different types of firm owners. At the group level, we segregate our analysis into board structures, director social capital and resource networks, and directors' demographic diversity. At the individual level, our review covers CEOs' demography and socio-psychological characteristics. We map the effect of these mechanisms on firms' CSR outcomes.

Theoretical/Academic Implications: We recommend that greater scholarly attention needs to be accorded to disaggregating variables and yet comprehending how multiple configurations of CG mechanisms interact and combine to impact firms' CSR behavior. We suggest that CG-CSR research should employ a multi-theoretical lens and apply sophisticated qualitative and quantitative methods to enable a deeper and finer-grained analysis of the CG systems and their influence on CSR. Finally, we call for cross-cultural research to capture the context sensitivities typical of both CG and CSR constructs.

Practitioner/Policy Implications: Our review suggests that for structural changes and reforms within firms to be successful, they need to be complemented by changes to the institutional makeup of the context in which firms function to encourage/induce substantive changes in corporate responsible behaviors.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCorporate Governance: An International Review
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)253-273
Number of pages21
Publication statusPublished - May 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Corporate governance
  • Corporate social responsibility
  • Corporate social performance
  • Corporate environmental performance
  • Multilevel review

Cite this