CSR Rating Agencies: What is Their Global Impact?

Journal of Business Ethics 94 (1):69-88 (2010)
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In the last two decades, there has been a pronounced growth of CSR rating agencies that assess corporations based on their social and environmental performance. This article investigates the impact of CSR ratings on the behavior of individual corporations. To what extent do corporations adjust their behavior based on how they rank? Our primary finding is that being dropped from a CSR ranking appears to do little to encourage firms to acknowledge and address problems related to their social and environmental performance. Specific rankings appear not to have a widespread effect of influencing firms to acknowledge negative CSR events and publicly present plans and actions to address them. Whether firms are well or poorly ranked, they appear to focus on and publicly discuss their “positive” CSR activities. We discuss the wider significance of these results as well as the overall significance of CSR rankings for a global economy.



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Steven Scalet
University of Baltimore