Corporate Philosophy and CSR-related Decision Making in Micro, Small and Medium-sized Companies Relative to Large Companies

Michael Mørch Gaardsøe

Student thesis: Master thesis


For-profit companies’ primary goal – ceteris paribus – is to earn money. This has been the dominant assumption for the majority of previous literature that has focused on the maximization of wealth and profit. At first sight, corporate philanthropy seems like the direct opposite of maximizing profits as companies are giving away money to philanthropic causes. As such, this study sets out to examine why companies are participating in corporate philanthropy.
Private philanthropy has been a popular topic of interest for academics, but the field of corporate philanthropy is less examined and ambiguous. Based on an abductive and retroductive approach, this study examines how corporate philanthropy relates to corporate social responsibility – along with whether the altruistic motives that have been discovered within the field of private philanthropy are applicable to corporate philanthropy or whether more business-related motives are dominant. The study focuses on Danmarks Indsamling and considers how companies’ sizes affect the decision making and the motives for making donations based on the assumption that smaller companies resemble private donors while larger companies are business-oriented.
The critical realistic study interviews 12 decision makers who were involved in a donation to Danmarks Indsamling in 2018: seven micro, small or medium-sized companies and five large companies. The findings indicate that corporate philanthropy is not integrated into a company’s core business activities independent of size; on the other hand, a company’s size does affect the decision-making process for corporate social responsibility – but not for corporate philanthropy. Corporate philanthropy is based on intuitive reasoning for both SMEs and large companies.
The study rejects that for-profit companies act in ways that maximize wealth and profits regarding corporate philanthropy, as several other causal mechanisms are identified:
SMEs’ motives for making donations to Danmarks Indsamling are mainly twofold: 1) they want to help other people and 2) they want to give employees a sense of satisfaction and pride.
Large companies make donations due to similar employee benefits, but they are additionally influenced by the expectation that large companies should support philanthropic causes since they earn a lot of money.

EducationsMA in International Business Communication (Intercultural Marketing), (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2018
Number of pages94
SupervisorsAna Alacovska