We examine corporate social responsibility (CSR) reporting strategies by focusing on stigmatized firms belonging to the alcohol, tobacco, gambling, nuclear energy and firearm sectors. These are often described as “sins” due to their perceived deviation from broadly-endorsed standards. We employ a sample of 109 U.S. listed “sin” firms for a seven-year period (2003-2009) and control with another set of 109 similar-sized, non-“sin” firms for the same period. We find that “sin” firms are more prone to issuing standalone CSR reports. We also demonstrate that a greater risk of litigation by third parties increases the likelihood of a “sin” firm instigating CSR reports, while variations in ownership structure do not. By drawing upon literature on organizational stigma, we argue that CSR disclosures constitute an integral part of “sin” firms’ strategic goal to distract attention from their controversial activities, lessen the negative consequences of stigmatization and neutralize the impact of litigation proceedings.
Bibliographical noteCopyright © 2015 Elsevier Inc.
Funding: European Union, Seventh Framework Programme (FP7-REGPOT-2012-2013-1) under Grant Agreement No.316167.