Do CEOs get rewarded for CSR activities in the director labor market?

Lee M. Dunham, Tirimba Obonyo, Sijing Wei

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to determine if Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) are rewarded or punished in the corporate director labor market for engaging in corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities. Design/methodology/approach: The authors empirically examine the relation between CEOs' CSR engagement and their corporate board appointments in retirement using logit, ordinary least squares (OLS) and Poisson regression models. Findings: Results indicate that CSR engagement has significant director labor market consequences for retiring CEOs. Specifically, CSR engagement has a favorable impact on the ability of retired CEOs to obtain board seats and board seats at larger firms generally associated with higher pay, even after controlling for firm performance and other determinants previously documented to explain director selection. The authors also find evidence that CEOs of firms with high CSR engagement build up their firms' CSR scores over time as they approach retirement, which is consistent with the labor market for directors providing incentives to attract CEOs to board service in retirement. Originality/value: By examining the relationship between a CEO's CSR engagement and their external corporate board directorships, this paper advances the understanding of the determinants of corporate board appointments. Further, while most prior research assesses the value of CSR engagement by looking at the relation between CSR engagement and that firm's performance, this is the first study to our knowledge to look outside the firm to determine if CSR engagement has value to the CEO.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)78-95
Number of pages18
JournalManagerial Finance
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 3 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Business, Management and Accounting (miscellaneous)
  • Finance


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