Understanding corporate communications in Indian companies
Updated: Aug 27, 2020
This study examines corporate stakeholder orientation (CSO) across industries and over time prior to the introduction of mandatory CSR. We argue that CSO is a legitimacy signal consciously employed by firms to demonstrate their shareholder and specific non-shareholder orientations in the midst of institutional pressures emerging from country and industry contexts. Using a 7-code index of CSO on CEO–shareholder communications from India, we find that in general large firms in India exhibit a pre-dominant, significant and rising trend of pro-shareholder orientation in the six-year period immediately preceding the CSR law. Yet, we uncover significant industry differences in CSO potentially driven by four key factors: the degree of competitive dynamics, nature of products and services, extent of negative externalities and social activism, and exposure to international markets. Our findings support the view that while some minimum threshold of regulatory intervention is required to balance the interests of business with society, legislation raises questions in relation to the usefulness of a uniform one-size-fits-all CSR across all industries.
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