The strategic use of corporate philanthropy: Building societies and demutualisation defences

Business Ethics, the Environment and Responsibility 16 (4):326–343 (2007)
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Abstract

This paper examines the strategic use of corporate philanthropy in the 1990s by UK building societies faced with an intensification of societal pressure to change legal form from mutual to corporate status. While the economic case for mutuality has been made elsewhere, this paper examines the observation that community relationships were thought by management to be capable of assisting in the strategic positioning of mutual societies with regard to their legal form. By increasing charitable giving to respond to the level of societal scrutiny and discussion on the issue of mutuality, this paper argues that charitable giving, as one proxy for community involvement, was used as a strategic tool to deflect calls for demutualisation, thereby preserving the existing mutual status of building societies.

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David Campbell
McMaster University (PhD)