Corporate Environmental Responsibility in Polluting Industries: Does Religion Matter?

Journal of Business Ethics 124 (3):485-507 (2014)
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Abstract

Using a sample of Chinese listed firms in polluting industries for the period of 2008–2010, we empirically investigate whether and how Buddhism, China’s most influential religion, affects corporate environmental responsibility (CER). In this study, we measure Buddhist variables as the number of Buddhist monasteries within a certain radius around Chinese listed firms’ registered addresses. In addition, we hand-collect corporate environmental disclosure scores based on the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) sustainability reporting guidelines. Using hand-collected Buddhism data and corporate environmental disclosure scores, we provide strong and robust evidence that Buddhism is significantly positively associated with CER. This finding is consistent with the following view: Buddhism can serve as social norms to evoke the consciousness of social responsibility, and thereof strengthen CER. Our findings also reveal that the positive association between Buddhism and CER is attenuated for firms with higher law enforcement index. The results are robust to various measures of Buddhism and a variety of sensitivity tests.

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