Corporate Governance and Social Responsibility: a comparative analysis of the UK and the US*


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    This paper was presented at the 3rd International Corporate Governance Conference “Corporate Governance and Corporate Social Responsibility”, 4 July 2005 at the Centre of Corporate Governance Research, Birmingham Business School.

**College of Business and Institute of Labor and Industrial Relations, University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, 1206 South Sixth St., Champaign, IL 61820, USA. Tel: +217-333 7090; Fax: +217-244 7969; E-mail:


This paper argues that key differences between the UK and the US in the importance ascribed to a company's social responsibilities (CSR) reflect differences in the corporate governance arrangements in these two countries. Specifically, we analyse the role of a salient type of owner in the UK and the US, institutional investors, in emphasising firm-level CSR actions. We explore differences between institutional investors in the UK and the US concerning CSR, and draw on a model of instrumental, relational and moral motives to explore why institutional investors in the UK are becoming concerned with firms’ social and environmental actions. We conclude with some suggestions for future research in this area.