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Keywords:

  • China;
  • corporate social responsibility;
  • preferential stakeholder model;
  • government;
  • retail;
  • multinational companies;
  • consumer;
  • emerging economies

ABSTRACT

Research interest in examining corporate social responsibility (CSR) in developing economies is on the rise; however, our knowledge of the role of government in CSR remains limited. The aim of this paper is therefore to bridge this gap with an investigation into the specific CSR strategies that global firms have developed in the world's largest emerging economy and a nominally communist country, namely China. Drawing on institutional theory and a relational governance perspective, we posit that rather than adopting a canonical holistic CSR stakeholder model as typically observed in Western countries, these firms adopt a preferential stakeholder model using government-aimed and consumer-aimed CSR strategically. Our empirical study sampled 17 global retailers operating in China, with a dataset compiled to include their CSR web announcement data and firm performance data. The results of partial least squares modelling suggest that only government-aimed CSR plays a salient role in enhancing retailers' performance. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment