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Determinants of Corporate Social Responsibility in Professional Sport: Internal and External Factors


Abstract and Figures

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) has become an area of increasing importance for many companies. Professional sport teams, also, are increasingly engaging in socially responsible activities (Irwin, Lachowetz, Cornwell, & Clark, 2003; Kern, 2000; Robinson, 2005). The research described in this article identifies, and determines the relative importance of, the drivers-both internal and external-of socially responsible activities by professional sport teams. Using a qualitative approach, interviews were conducted with sport executives, and organizational documents were analyzed. The data showed that external drivers of CSR, in particular key constituents, the interconnectedness of the field, and pressures from the league were more important determinants of CSR initiatives than the internal resources available to deliver CSR efforts (i.e., attention, media access, celebrity players, coaches, facilities). Based on these preliminary findings, we propose a framework of CSR adoption in professional sport that predicts the types of CSR initiatives a sport organization is likely to adopt depending on its internal and/or external orientation and present a research agenda based on the framework.
Content may be subject to copyright.
Journal of Sport Management, 2009, 23, 717-742
© 2009 Human Kinetics, Inc.
ReseaRch and Reviews
Determinants of Corporate Social 
Responsibility in Professional Sport: 
Internal and External Factors
Kathy Babiak
University of Michigan
Richard Wolfe
Brock University
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) has become an area of increasing importance
for many companies. Professional sport teams, also, are increasingly engaging in
socially responsible activities (Irwin, Lachowetz, Cornwell, & Clark, 2003; Kern,
2000; Robinson, 2005). The research described in this article identies, and deter-
mines the relative importance of, the drivers—both internal and external—of socially
responsible activities by professional sport teams. Using a qualitative approach, inter-
views were conducted with sport executives, and organizational documents were ana-
lyzed. The data showed that external drivers of CSR, in particular key constituents,
the interconnectedness of the eld, and pressures from the league were more impor-
tant determinants of CSR initiatives than the internal resources available to deliver
CSR efforts (i.e., attention, media access, celebrity players, coaches, facilities). Based
on these preliminary ndings, we propose a framework of CSR adoption in profes-
sional sport that predicts the types of CSR initiatives a sport organization is likely to
adopt depending on its internal and/or external orientation and present a research
agenda based on the framework.
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) has received considerable attention in
the academic literature as the role that CSR plays in business has grown. The
focus of academic research has been on identifying the link between nancial and
social performance (Margolis & Walsh, 2003). While the evidence of this relation-
ship remains unclear, it does point to a positive association. Rather than continu-
ing to focus on the nancial-social performance relationship, Margolis and Walsh
(2003) argued that researchers should shift their lenses and focus on the context,
processes, and outcomes of CSR. This article follows this call by exploring con-
textual forces, internal and external to the rm, that lead organizations to become
more socially responsible. Using an inductive research approach, we found Oli-
ver’s (1991) framework concerning organizational responses to institutional pres-
Babiak is with the School of Kinesiology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109. Wolfe is with
the Dept. of Sport Management, Brock University, St. Catharines, Ontario L2S 3A1, Canada.
718    Babiak and Wolfe
sures and Barney’s (1991) resource-based perspective helpful in explaining the
factors that motivate professional sport organizations’ CSR efforts.
The purpose of this article is to explore and prioritize the forces that result in
professional sport organizations engaging in CSR activities. By doing so, we hope
to contribute to our understanding of the diffusion of this phenomenon such that
it will be well grounded for future research. In addition, we explore the relation-
ship among the determinants of CSR in sport and how they are related to the type
of CSR initiatives that are adopted. The article is organized as follows, we: (1)
present a brief overview of relevant aspects of the CSR literature; (2) highlight
some socially responsible initiatives undertaken by professional sport organiza-
tions; (3) address what is unique about the sport industry, as it relates to CSR; (4)
present preliminary research concerning the substantial diffusion of CSR in pro-
fessional sport; (5) propose a determinants of CSR adoption in professional sport
framework; and (6) present a research agenda that builds on the proposed frame-
work. Next, we provide an overview of relevant elements of the CSR literature.
CSR: Definitions, Motives, and Determinants
Organizational scholars have been theorizing about, and investigating, CSR for
over three decades (Carroll, 1979; Margolis & Walsh, 2003; McWilliams &
Siegel, 2000). The essential components of the phenomenon, as described in the
literature, have remained quite constant over time. Ullmann (1985) described
CSR as “the extent to which an organization meets the needs, expectations, and
demands of certain external constituencies beyond those directly linked to the
company’s products/markets” (p. 543). In a similar manner, other CSR denitions
address “societal relationships” (Wood, 1991, p. 693) and the “expectations that
society has of organizations” (Carroll, 1979, p. 500). CSR thus, “tends to focus on
the effects of organizations on external constituencies (e.g., consumers, local
communities, charitable organizations)” (Sethi & Steidlemeier, 1995, p. 20).
Others describe CSR as a set of actions aimed to further some social good,
beyond the explicit pecuniary interests of the rm, that are not required by law
(McWilliams & Siegel, 2000) and as “practices that improve the workplace and
benet society in ways that go above and beyond what companies are legally
required to do” (Vogel, 2005, p. 2). We nd Carroll’s (1979, 1999) framing of
CSR quite clear, inclusive, and helpful. Carroll argued that CSR is composed of
four elements: economic (the basic responsibility to make a prot and, thus, be
viable), legal (the duty to obey the law), ethical (responsibility to act in a manner
consistent with societal expectations), and discretionary (activities that go beyond
societal expectations).
It should be noted that numerous ‘socially responsible’ organizational activi-
ties have emerged that intend to benet both the organization and society. Cause-
related marketing and cause branding are two examples of these types of efforts.
“Categorized as sponsorships, cause-related marketing involves prot-motivated
giving and enables rms to contribute to nonprot organizations while also
increasing their bottom line by tying those contributions to sales” (Landreth Grau
& Garretson Folse, 2007). Cause-related marketing has been explored broadly in
the business literature (Cornwell & Maignan, 1998; Dean, 2003) and specically
Determinants of CSR    719
in sport (Irwin, Lachowetz, Cornwell, & Clark, 2003; Lachowetz & Gladden,
2002; Lachowetz & Irwin, 2002; Roy & Graeff, 2003).
In the past decade, efforts have been made to link CSR and more traditional
corporate objectives (Porter & Kramer, 2006). A related area of inquiry in the lit-
erature has been to explore whether CSR initiatives have been adopted as a strate-
gic response to external pressures (Hess, Rogovsky, & Dunfee, 2002; Hess &
Warren, 2004; Marquis, Glynn, & Davis, 2007). Belliveau, Cottrill, and O’Neill
(1994) proposed a model that predicts an organization’s social responsiveness
based on external factors such as institutional variables (e.g., CSR behavior in the
industry), economic variables (e.g., level of concentration, market share), and
managerial variables (e.g., innovation).
Such approaches broaden the focus of CSR from being solely altruistic to it
having dual—organizational and social—benets and capture a view that links
CSR and corporate nancial performance (Aguilera, Rupp, Williams, &
Ganapathi, 2007; Barnett, 2007; Waddock & Post, 1995). That is, it is suggested
that a rm can further its strategic interests while expending resources with noth-
ing apparent or obvious in return. Although the rm may not receive tangible,
explicit, or discrete exchange value, CSR activities can generate intangible strate-
gic assets such as reputational capital (Fombrun, Gardberg, & Barnett, 2000;
Lewis, 2003) and employee commitment (Turban & Greening, 1996; Vogel, 2005)
as well as acquiescence among key regulatory institutions or legislative bodies
(Campbell, 2007; Jenson, 2002; Vogel, 2005), the development of the rm’s busi-
ness and institutional environments (Porter & Kramer, 2002), and/or help mitigate
negative media scrutiny (Alsop, 2002).
The literature on CSR has increasingly indicated how external forces such as
customers (Lewis, 2003; Vogel, 2005; Yan, 2003), activist groups (Den Hond &
De Bakker, 2007), legislation (Dawkins & Lewis, 2003), and members of local
communities (Boehm, 2005) inuence the type and focus of CSR activity in
which an organization engages. Far fewer studies, however, have explored the
internal resources and competencies an organization brings to bear on their CSR-
related activities (Bruch & Walter (2005) and Porter & Kramer (2006) are notable
exceptions). Some researchers such as Joyner and Payne (2002) have explored
internal forces such as values and ethics as drivers of CSR behavior and high-
lighted the positive link between these areas and nancial performance. However,
no previous research has assessed the extent to which organizational resources
explain the diffusion of CSR.
CSR in the Sport Context
While as recently as 15 years ago, CSR did not play a signicant role in sport
(Kott, 2005; Robinson, 2005), professional sport organizations are now entering
into socially responsible initiatives at a rapid pace. Despite this increase, there has
been no empirical work examining the factors that motivate professional sport
organizations to become involved in socially responsible activities. This paper
addresses this gap in the literature.
Professional sport leagues (e.g., National Hockey League (NHL), National
Basketball Association (NBA)), corporations (e.g., Maple Leaf Sports and Enter-
720    Babiak and Wolfe
tainment, Palace Sport and Entertainment), teams (e.g., Toronto Maple Leafs,
Toronto Rock, Detroit Pistons, and Detroit Shock), and athletes (e.g., Curtis
Joseph, Chauncey Billups) are inuential agents in our society when considered
from both economic and cultural perspectives (Kern, 2000). Due to the impor-
tance of developing and maintaining good relations with the communities in
which they operate, the above mentioned entities often turn to community out-
reach activities to build good-will among salient stakeholders (e.g., local busi-
nesses, public policy makers, members of the community). These activities take a
multitude of forms, including programs where coaches and/or athletes contribute
time to particular causes and/or nancial donations to causes, often via the forma-
tion of charitable foundations (Irwin et al., 2003).
Virtually all organizations within the sport industry, broadly dened, have
adopted CSR programs. From Nike and Reebok to the NBA and NASCAR, exam-
ples abound of activities undertaken to bring messages and resources to under-
privileged and other members of society who may not otherwise be the targets of
socially responsible initiatives.
The types and focus of community outreach initiatives vary considerably.
Leagues have programs such as the NHLs “Hockey Fights Cancer” wherein funds
are raised to support cancer research and “NHL Diversity” programs that provide
support for youth hockey organizations committed to offering economically dis-
advantaged boys and girls opportunities to play hockey. The NBA’s “Read to
Achieve” program is a community outreach initiative implemented by individual
teams to encourage youth to read, and its “Basketball Without Borders” initiative
involves a summer camp for young people designed to promote friendship, good-
will, and education through sport. Major League Baseball (MLB) and the Boys
and Girls Clubs of America have had a long term association. Leagues such as the
National Football League (NFL), MLB, and the NHL have also begun to address
environmental concerns. Thus programs to offset carbon emissions, as well as
recycling efforts during games and major events have been implemented (Babiak
& Wolfe, 2006; Major League Baseball Team Greening, 2008; National Hockey
League Green, 2008). Charitable giving has been at the core of how the PGA Tour
operates; in 2005 the PGA surpassed the $1 billion mark in charitable donations
and announced an ambitious goal of matching that total again within 10 years
(Professional Golf Association Tour, 2006).
An indication of the dramatic growth of CSR in professional sport is pre-
sented in Figure 1. Nearly all professional sport teams have established charitable
foundations over the past decade and a half. Since CSR activities are also often
provided without a team having a foundation, Figure 1 should be considered con-
servative both from a time of adoption perspective and a percent adoption
Given the well established literature on CSR, is there a need to investigate
CSR in sport? In the next section, we highlight what we believe to be the unique
aspects of sport that merit exploration of CSR within this industry.
Is Sport Unique With Respect to CSR?
Having described the dramatic increase in CSR initiatives in professional sport,
we now address elements of the sport industry that we believe to be unique. With-
Figure 1 — Growth of professional sport team foundations.
722    Babiak and Wolfe
out unique features, one may argue that there is no need for research to examine
the determinants of CSR in professional sport, as they would not differ from those
in other industries. We suggest that the following four factors are quite different in
the realm of professional sport and are of particular relevance to CSR design,
implementation, and impact in sport: passion, economics, transparency, and
stakeholder management. Below, we discuss how CSR may affect or be affected
by these factors.
Passion. One differentiating attribute of the sport industry may have to do with
the passion and interest the product (the team, the game) generates among fans/
consumers (Cashman, 2004). Consider two “traditional” products for which con-
sumers are said to have considerable passion—Harley Davidson and “Old Coke.
Can we imagine the type of passion one sees at a World Cup soccer game, or a
Yankees-Red Sox playoff game, exhibited by devotees of Harley Davidson or
Coke? We suggest not. More to the point, it is difcult to imagine such passion for
any “traditional” product (e.g., laundry detergent, toothpaste, shampoo). Given
the passion and interest that sport generates, we suggest that athletes promoting,
for example, healthful living, may generate a larger, more attentive audience than
would employees in other elds. In a parallel fashion, corporations not involved
in sport may want to partner with sport organizations in CSR efforts to “bask in
the reected glory” (cf. Cialdini, Borden, Thorne, Walker, Freeman, & Sloan,
1976) of sport teams. More generally, it has been suggested that the passion and
identication that sport teams generate can be benecial to communities as a
whole by encouraging and strengthening community integration (Lever, 1983;
Wakeeld & Wann, 2006; Wilkerson & Dodder, 1987).
Economics. There are some unique economic elements of the sport industry
that result in different expectations of sport than of other industries. Many per-
ceive sport leagues as being cartels, having close to monopoly power, with special
protections from the government via antitrust laws (Noll, 2003). Sport leagues
and teams often, also receive public funds for stadia and related infrastructure
(Swindell & Rosentraub, 1998). Such perceived and actual unique protections and
support from public coffers, may lead some stakeholders to have higher (or differ-
ent) perceptions of the role and responsibility of professional sport teams and
leagues to provide social benet and give back to the community (Swindell &
Rosentraub, 1998).
Transparency. Almost everything achieved by the leadership of a sport team
(e.g., player signings, player salaries, who plays, who sits, trades, changes in strat-
egies), as well as team outcomes (i.e., wins/losses), and contributions to good
causes is open knowledge (Armey, 2004). In addition, off the court/eld behavior
of a team’s employees (i.e., players) also, invariably, becomes open knowledge
(Armey, 2004). Organizations in other industries typically do not face the same
type of scrutiny of their business practices or of their employees’ behaviors. For
instance, if an employee of a manufacturing rm engages in immoral or illegal
behavior, few will ever hear of it. On the other hand, if there is a parallel situation
Determinants of CSR    723
with an athlete or coach, it often leads to a media frenzy (e.g., Tank Johnson vio-
lating probation (Kider, 2007), Michael Vick’s involvement in dog ghting
(Schmidt & Battista, 2007), Pacman Jones’s off-eld issues (Saraceno, 2007)).
Sport organizations, thus, may engage in CSR activities as insurance against
negative reactions to such occurrences before the fact (Godfrey, 2005), or as an
effort to improve their image after the fact. The latter was the case with the NFL
when it worked with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Ani-
mals on public service announcements and programs to help educate players and
the public on treating animals properly after it was brought to light that one of the
NFL’s star players (Michael Vick) had engaged in dog ghting (Battista, 2007a).
Stakeholder Management. Success in the sport industry necessitates the abil-
ity to work within a complex set of stakeholder relationships; a team cannot oper-
ate without the cooperation of many organizations. We suggest that each of
passion, economics, and transparency addressed just above contribute to a com-
plex set of stakeholder relationships. Relations with stakeholders such as the me-
dia, players, various levels of government, sponsors, fans, and local communities,
can benet from CSR activities (Wallace, 2004).
Given the above unique elements of the professional sport industry, we
believe that examining the determinants of socially responsible activities by pro-
fessional sport teams is a worthy endeavor.
More specically from a research perspective, professional sport is a rich
context in which to study CSR because all organizations in the industry are
involved in such efforts. Some organizations believe that doing good is the right
thing to do (Mintzberg, 1984), and are involved in these initiatives for noble rea-
sons, such as those expressed by the President of the Detroit Lions: “The (Detroit)
Lions are not just a football team but a part of the community as well. We have a
unique opportunity and responsibility to help make a difference by being a good
corporate citizen” (Ford, Jr., 2003, para. 3). Some organizations, on the other
hand, believe that doing good is good business (Mintzberg, 1984), and are moti-
vated by pragmatic matters. Among the pragmatic reasons for CSR are, as alluded
to above, projecting a positive image, generating goodwill among various stake-
holders (e.g., employees, extant and potential customers, the local community
(Porter & Kramer, 2002)), countering negative media scrutiny, and/or receiving
tax breaks and subsidies from government bodies.
Porter and Kramer (2002) propose a bridge between the “right thing to do”
and “good business” rationales for CSR suggesting that:
corporations can use their charitable efforts to improve their competitive con-
text—the quality of the business environment in the . . . locations where they
operate. Using philanthropy to enhance context brings social and economic
goals into alignment and improves the company’s long term business pros-
pects (p. 6).
In what follows, we describe a preliminary, inductive study, in which we inves-
tigate the determinants of the substantial diffusion of CSR in professional sport.
724    Babiak and Wolfe
Research Context
This study examined CSR in professional sport. In particular, we focused on four
professional teams in one midwestern American city. Teams included one each
from the NFL, MLB, NHL, and NBA. Each of these teams has extensive CSR
initiatives (as per their organizational documents and our interviews).
Study Participants
In our effort to understand the considerable diffusion of CSR in professional
sport, we conducted in-depth, exploratory, interviews with mid to high ranking
individuals working for major league sport teams (e.g., Vice Presidents, Commu-
nity Relations; a Chief Operating Ofcer; Executive Directors; Managers of
Public Relations. See Table 1 for a list of interviewees). The selection of inter-
viewees was based on their degree of familiarity and involvement with their orga-
nization’s CSR initiatives.
Table 1  Overview of Informants
Position/Department Type of Organization
VP—Community Relations NBA Team
VP—Community Relations NBA Team
Director—Community Relations NHL Team
VP—Community Relations NHL Team
VP—Community Relations MLB Team
Manager—Community Affairs MLB Team
VP—Community Relations NFL Team
Data Collection
The study incorporated two data gathering approaches: document analysis and
unstructured interviews.
Organizational documents from the four teams were reviewed. These
included: press releases; newsletters; web page descriptions; CSR mission/vision
statements; and annual reports. Documents were used to provide background
information, to substantiate and illustrate ndings, and to supplement information
Determinants of CSR    725
obtained from the interviews. In total, over 420 documents were collected and
reviewed. Of these, 45 (i.e., program descriptions, annual reports, newsletters, and
missions and goals of the organizations’ social responsibility efforts) were
included in the analysis because of their direct relevance. As will be described
below, these documents were coded and analyzed in the same manner as were the
interview transcripts.
The second data collection approach included unstructured interviews that
were conducted with eight sport executives. Each interview ranged from between
1–1.5 hr. All interviews were conducted by both authors. Respondents answered
questions pertaining to the rationale behind their organization’s involvement in
CSR. Each interview was open-ended, based on the seminal question of our
research: “Why is your organization involved in CSR?” We then further ques-
tioned the interviewees concerning the types of social responsibility expectations
their organization faced, which stakeholders placed these expectations on them,
and who made decisions regarding the nature and focus of their CSR-related
efforts. Participants were encouraged to discuss the benets, challenges, and bar-
riers that they perceived regarding their organization’s CSR efforts. Probes
requesting clarication and/or examples, based on the interviewees’ responses,
followed. The interviews allowed for an in-depth understanding of the partici-
pants’ perspectives concerning their organization’s involvement in CSR. The
interviews were audiotaped, transcribed verbatim, and reviewed by the authors, a
research assistant, and in most cases the participants themselves for accuracy and
Data Analysis
All relevant organizational document passages and interview transcripts were
manually coded. Initial coding was conducted by a research assistant who worked
on the research team, with codes derived from the CSR literature. Recurring cat-
egories identifying the determinants to CSR were identied. The codes and cate-
gories were then reviewed, conrmed, and if necessary revised by the authors. All
textual data were then analyzed once again with the revised codes. Any questions
or issues regarding coding were discussed, debated, and agreed upon by all mem-
bers of the team during research meetings. During the analysis process, the cate-
gories that emerged represented two perspectives that were found to be particu-
larly relevant. The rst was that a number of external pressures were determinants
of these organizations’ involvement in CSR. Reviewing the literature again, we
felt that a framework proposed by Oliver (1991) was relevant to this aspect of our
data. Second, the importance of unique sport-related resources to the teams’ CSR
efforts was identied as a key driver of these programs. Consistent with this per-
spective, we adopted the resource-based view (Barney, 1991) to identify these
internal organizational drivers. A nal code book including codes for each of Oli-
ver’s external pressures and each of Barney’s internal resource criteria was cre-
ated. The interview transcripts and documents were then reanalyzed with the
updated codes by the research team and then a nal review by the team for consis-
tency and accuracy was conducted.
726    Babiak and Wolfe
Our basic question—“Why is your organization involved in CSR?”—along with
follow-up probes, facilitated the development of an understanding of the adoption
of CSR initiatives in professional sport. The responses to the questions and probes
tended to t into one of two categories of determinants: one related to external
pressures and one related to internal resources. We discuss these two sets of deter-
minants in turn.
Table 2 presents our results organized by major determinant type–external
pressure and internal resource, and their subcategories, or themes. It also provides
data on the frequency of mention of each subcategory. Below, as we discuss each
theme, we present representative quotations from both the interviews and docu-
ment sources.
Table 2  Determinants of the Adoption of CSR in Professional 
Sport: Themes and Frequencies
Theme Examples Frequency * Percentage **
External Pressures
Context Board of Directors 171 100%
Peer Contact
Inside league
League Ofce
Outside league,
same community
Outside league,
different com-
Team sponsor
Community out-
reach sponsor
Content Mission Statement 156 100%
Counter negative
Bottom line
Free publilcity
Constituents Athletes 135 100%
Theme Examples Frequency * Percentage **
External Pressures
Booster clubs
Team management
Local community
Municipal govern-
Corporate Sponsor
Control League-mandated 60 100%
Best practices
Inside League
Outside league,
same community
Outside league,
different com-
Cause Be a good corpo-
rate citizen 47 87.5%
Expectations of
professional sport -
since they get tax
since they get help
with stadiums
Internal Resources
a. Rare Passion 28 37.5%
b. Valuable Athletes 22 25%
Team partners
c. Inimitable Other industries
cannot duplicate
same resources
18 25%
* Frequency of times category/theme appears in data = # of total quotations/document passages
** % of interviewees represented in category/theme = % of interview respondents who mentioned a
particular theme
728    Babiak and Wolfe
The Determinants of CSR in Professional Sport: External 
Given the nature of the responses to our question regarding factors driving CSR in
professional sport, we nd Oliver’s (1991) framework identifying strategic
responses to institutional pressures very informative. Oliver argued that a rm’s
responses to environmental forces depend on the nature of the pressures that she
characterized as: Cause, Constituents, Control, Context, and Content. Each of
these forces and their relevance in professional sport are described in more detail
The interconnectedness of the organizational eld has an impact on
best practices adoption and diffusion (Oliver, 1991). The stronger the relation-
ships and dependencies a rm has with those in its eld, the more likely best
practices and shared understandings will be transferred among rms (Hess &
Warren, 2004). This factor had the highest frequency of mentions (171) in the
data of all the external pressures leading a team to address social responsibility
(see Table 2). Interviewees suggested that interconnectedness among organiza-
tions in the professional sport organizational eld (e.g., teams, municipal and
state governments, the media, advertisers, sponsors) is very strong, thus con-
tributing to the increasing emphasis on community outreach efforts. For in-
stance, a professional sport team relies heavily on partnerships with corporate
sponsors, media, and local and state governments, and in particular, the league
governing body. One respondent suggested that the growth and dissemination
of information from the league were an important force in the motivation to
engage in CSR, as well as in similarity of efforts: “The NHL has meetings every
year that get all the community relations people together and we share ideas.”
Furthermore, trends, as highlighted earlier (Figure 1), suggest that professional
sport teams in the various leagues are entering into CSR at a relatively similar
rate, over essentially the same time frame. Our data indicated that, consistent
with Oliver, awareness of best practices (of other professional sport teams and
of companies outside of professional sport) was an important force behind the
growth of professional sport teams’ CSR. A respondent suggested that teams
within, as well as those outside, a league are important forces leading a team to
engage in CSR: “I am in contact with my colleagues at the other teams on a
regular basis regarding what we do in our community efforts. . . . We’re com-
petitors, but we don’t really see ourselves that way.” This respondent suggested
that there is a connection among teams in the adoption and diffusion of CSR.
Finally several respondents indicated that corporate sponsors are not only fre-
quently involved in CSR efforts themselves, but are increasingly incorporating
community outreach efforts as part of their sponsorship packages with profes-
sional sport teams, for example:
Pepsi is a big sponsor of our team and as part of that relationship, they ask us
to channel some of their corporate dollars for marketing and set aside a cer-
tain amount for charity and community outreach. Some of those sponsorship
dollars therefore, will go into our educational academy.
Determinants of CSR    729
A rm’s responsiveness to constituent demands depends on whether
those demands are consistent with organizational goals. This pressure described by
Oliver is consistent with the above discussion concerning achieving both organiza-
tional and social benets. The content theme emerged 156 times, suggesting that
executives in professional sport organizations think about whether their CSR ef-
forts have the potential to impact other organizational outcomes. Some interview-
ees suggested that being ‘good citizens’ helped, for instance in attracting and
securing sponsors: “If we do our job (community outreach) well, that helps other
areas of the company, especially from a sponsorship standpoint.And other respon-
dents made the link between selling tickets and being socially responsible: “We
have to tie in [team] aspirations with what we do in the community; therefore, a
[community] program must have a ticket function; . . . a balance - getting people to
the park and helping people in our community.” Other interviewees discussed the
public relations function that CSR can serve, enhancing the image and brand of a
team in a community: “We help promote (the team) in our own ways … through our
charities and our community outreach.” More specically a team executive stated
that “We utilize marketing, public relations, event planning and combine it with our
philanthropic aims. The end result is we want to help as many people as possible—
and even if just a little bit—to rise above their circumstances.And nally, we feel
it is relevant to highlight the tensions respondents indicated regarding proling a
team’s good deeds in the community, but that this function is increasingly serving
as a means to send a message to key stakeholders that the team is committed to the
community. One interviewee spoke specically about this challenge. “We are in a
very competitive business and this has inuenced the evolution of our community
outreach efforts. Being good community citizens may be a critical edge for us.
Consistent with resource dependence theory, a rm’s reliance on a
constituent is expected to be a predictor of the rm’s responsiveness to that constitu-
ent’s demands (Oliver, 1991). More directly related to CSR, Barnett (2007) linked
the ability of a rm to improve stakeholder relationships through CSR, and, in turn,
have a positive effect on nancial performance. In the professional sport world, a
number of key constituents (e.g., employees, players, sponsors, the local commu-
nity, spectators/fans) could be important drivers of community outreach efforts. In
our investigation, we found these forces at play. This factor had the third highest
frequency of appearances in the data (135) and was mentioned by all respondents,
suggesting that an organization’s constituents are an important factor in determining
the adoption and focus of sport organizations’ CSR activities. Interviewees indi-
cated that often it is team players who initiate socially responsible projects: “We
have players who want to give back to the community . . . it is often them coming up
to us and saying, ‘How can I give back?” Many CSR programs were initiated by
other organizations in community; these organizations not only initiated the CSR
activity, but the area of focus as well: “At rst, we worked with the City Council
Foundation; their concerns . . . focused on education, health, social services, and
youth”. One team responded to a need in the community for breast health awareness,
indicating their involvement in a Breast Health Awareness program was important
given that [its city] had the highest mortality rate in the country for breast cancer. In
this case, it was a specic underserved population that motivated a CSR initiative.
730    Babiak and Wolfe
Control. Institutional pressures resulting from legal requirements and regula-
tion are one type of control mentioned by Oliver (1991). In this study, control
came from external regulatory bodies of each of the professional sport teams, i.e.,
the leagues. Many of our respondents indicated that programs were imposed by
league headquarters. Sport teams do not face legal requirements to engage in com-
munity outreach efforts, but such initiatives may be an effective way to stave off
regulation in other areas. There have been governmental pressures on professional
sport, most often related to the use of banned performance enhancing substances
and to antitrust legislation exemptions. When the threat of regulation exists, rms
are more responsive to social needs.
A second type of control discussed by Oliver (1991) is the diffusion of a
practice throughout a rm’s institutional eld; as more rms adopt social pro-
grams, their validity becomes established and their use unquestioned. As pre-
sented in Figure 1 and suggested in the discussion of context above, CSR has
diffused dramatically across sport’s institutional eld over recent years. We
believe, therefore that the adoption of CSR efforts in professional sport has been
motivated by both of Oliver’s “control” forces. Many of our respondents indi-
cated that programs were imposed by league headquarters. For instance: “Read
to Achieve is, as you know, an NBA program that’s implemented through com-
munity relations departments” and “In terms of the Read to Achieve, that’s an
NBA event. So, that’s not even a choice.” However, while each team is required
to implement a league mandated community initiative, there is considerable
variation in the extent of resources committed to these programs. Some teams
indicated that they are heavily invested in the league-mandated programs, while
others stated that the league initiatives are not the primary focus of their CSR
Interview and document passages that were coded in the control theme
received 60 mentions, second to least, however all respondents mentioned it. Per-
haps our respondents did not mention control as an external CSR force frequently
due to their perceptions of league-imposed programs as being less of the team’s
Cause. This nal external attribute is related to the “rationale, set of expecta-
tions, or intended objectives that underlie external pressures” (Oliver, 1991, p.
161). This response to societal expectations has direct ties to Carroll’s (1979,
1999) CSR framework. He suggested that ethical CSR is consistent with societal
expectations. Community advocates of corporate social initiatives argue that due
to their abundance of resources, corporations should help solve social problems.
Sport teams have unique human resources that can be very inuential as well as
considerable nancial and physical (facility) resources. In addition, because of
support from the community (e.g., tax breaks and subsidies from government to
build/refurbish stadia, build access roads), some argue that sport organizations,
perhaps more so than other corporations, have an obligation to give back to soci-
ety (Dunfee, 2004; Hess, et al., 2002).
The following quotations are representative of interviewee comments regard-
ing the “expectations . . . that underlie external pressures” (Oliver, 1991, p. 161).
“There are probably a half a dozen reasons why this organization does it . . . but
Determinants of CSR    731
part of it is . . . we are supposed to”; and “Society believes we should be involved
. . . since sport leagues are [perceived to be] monopolies and the owners billion-
aires, and the athletes can have an impact on kids” (emphasis added). The unique
position professional sport holds in our society results in expectations of these
organizations that may be different than those placed on companies in other indus-
tries. For instance, the great wealth of the owners and athletes may lead people to
expect more benevolence from them and the teams that employ them. However, in
terms of frequency of mentions, this factor had the least of the ve external fac-
tors—47. Perhaps this is because “cause” is the set of expectations that underlie
external pressures (Oliver, 1991, p. 161), while certainly relevant to CSR of pro-
fessional sport teams, it is subsumed by the other external pressures.
Having considered external pressures for professional sport’s involvement in
CSR, we next examine the resources professional sport teams have that may lead
to their being well positioned to be involved in CSR and, thus, to CSR’s consider-
able diffusion in professional sport.
The Determinants of CSR in Professional Sport: Internal 
As indicated earlier, the themes from the data tended to t into one of two catego-
ries of determinants: one related to external pressures and one to internal resources.
We discuss the latter here. We nd that the resource-based view of the rm
(Barney, 1991; Barney, Wright, & Ketchen, 2001) is helpful in appreciating the
dramatic diffusion of CSR among professional sport teams. In adopting this theo-
retical perspective, one considers whether relevant resources of professional sport
teams are valuable, rare, and inimitable and thus, professional sport has denite
advantages in implementing CSR programs and in their impact within the com-
munity. Of most relevance here is whether, and the extent to which, our respon-
dents framed the rationale for adopting CSR as being related to internal resources.
Below, we outline the three elements of the resource-based view (Barney, 1991),
each of which is consistent with interviewee responses regarding factors motivat-
ing a professional sport organization’s CSR efforts.
Valuable. Resources that contribute to a competitive advantage are valuable in
the sense of enabling an organization to uniquely exploit opportunities. Given the
feelings of identity, admiration and, not infrequently, passion, that many individu-
als have for athletes and teams, the latter have opportunities to inuence (a) indi-
viduals concerning positive behavior changes and (b) other corporations
concerning alliances and/or nancial contributions to social causes. In a consis-
tent manner, Kott (2005) argues that:
If Americans pay attention to nothing else, they pay attention to their favorite
teams and players . . . This celebrity inuence is invaluable to team founda-
tions . . . which capitalize on their cachet to raise public awareness of pressing
social and health issues and to rally support for programs that address them.
When a . . . player goes out and talks to kids about the importance of reading,
they hear that message. (p. 22)
732    Babiak and Wolfe
Professional sport teams and leagues have other valuable resources at their
disposal that can enhance CSR efforts. Valuable resources that a professional
sport organization possesses, in addition to the identication, admiration, and pas-
sion it engenders, include: tickets; signage; facilities (stadia, arenas); events;
access to media, suite holders, vendors, sponsors; and the professional staff of the
team (e.g., lawyers, trainers, accountants, owners; Johnson, 2007). One respon-
dent highlighted the impact athletes can have: “Athletes have a way of touching
kids in a way that you professors don’t. Kids in the city are looking up to Rip
Hamilton and they aren’t looking up to you guys [professors].
The unique value sport teams’ resources in the area of CSR was explained by
an interviewee in the following manner:
We try to build long term relationships with the causes we support. . . . An
example is the Police Athletic League which is dependent upon us to help run
their football league. . . . Without the [NFL team’s] involvement nancially
and in providing (a stadium) for their championships, that would take a big
chunk of money that they do not have, and we feel that would be a disservice
to the kids. No other organization can give them what we can.
Rare. The valuable resources of professional sport teams described just above
are exceedingly rare, as suggested by one interviewee. “A lot of what we do re-
volves around our unique resources: our stadium, our players, and our front ofce
staff. Things that no other organization has.” Media access of sport teams, and
interest in sport teams by the public and in turn, the media, are also rare. As stated
by a respondent: “We generate a lot of the media focus on our community efforts
ourselves, with our own TV show, and occasionally we will get that nice article or
that nice feature in the paper.
Inimitable. Identity, admiration, and passion are imperfectly imitable. Organi-
zations not in the sport industry cannot duplicate or develop substitutes for these
resources. Other organizations do not have employees with which the public iden-
ties as they do with professional athletes and coaches. Even team owners have
personas that are identied as being a unique resource for professional sport
teams. The power of their name to make a difference was raised by several of our
respondents. For instance, one respondent highlighted the power of the owners
and their reputation to help in the area of CSR. “Who owns us? The Fords! It
doesn’t take a rocket scientist to gure that one out, so it has worked well because
they are very philanthropic and they open a lot of doors for us.
In sum, as argued above, the resource-based view of the rm is helpful in
explaining the diffusion of CSR among professional sport teams, as the teams
have relevant valuable, rare, and inimitable resources. Referring specically to
our data, we see that professional sport teams have resources (“our stadium, our
players, our front ofce staff”) that are very valuable (“things . . . that can really
have an effect”; “athletes have a way of touching kids . . . kids in the city are look-
ing up to [them]”) and are very rare and inimitable (“things that nobody else has
in the world”).
Results presented in Table 2 show that internal resources were not mentioned
as often as external pressures as determinants of CSR adoption in our data. Deter-
Determinants of CSR    733
mining why this may be the case goes beyond the parameters of this paper. How-
ever, we suggest that this could be due to professional sport executives being quite
sensitive to their external environment given the unique nature of their industry.
Recall our discussion of passion, transparency, public policy/economic arrange-
ments, and complex stakeholder relationships addressed earlier. Each of these
unique aspects of the industry is related to environmental factors. In addition, it
may be that sport executives have yet to appreciate the unique nature of their
resources—and how these can contribute to sport teams having unique advantages
in providing CSR activities.
Determinants of the Adoption of Corporate Social 
Responsibility in Professional Sport: A Proposed 
Our preliminary ndings concerning the determinants of CSR adoption in profes-
sional sport, and their support in the strategic management literature (i.e., Barney,
1991; Oliver, 1991) clearly indicate external and internal determinants of CSR.
Recent work in the management literature on CSR argues for a more closely
aligned t between a company’s core strategy and its CSR efforts (Bruch &
Walter, 2005; Porter & Kramer, 2006). These authors contended that it is appro-
priate for CSR activities to contribute to an organization’s bottom line and, fur-
ther, that efforts that contribute to societal beneciaries and enhance business
performance will be more sustainable and add more value for both society and the
corporation. Thus, “doing good” can, indeed, be good for business. Consistent
with our ndings, Bruch and Walter (2005) suggested that strategic-CSR efforts
fall along two dimensions: an external, market, orientation and an internal, com-
petence, orientation. The market orientation is focused on developing stronger ties
with key stakeholders to meet their demands. “Trying to live up to the expecta-
tions of important stakeholders, . . . to achieve competitive advantages such as
improved marketing and selling capabilities, higher attractiveness as an employer
or better relationships with governmental and nongovernmental organizations”
(Bruch & Walter, 2005, p. 50). The second dimension—competence—focuses on
aligning CSR with an organization’s resources and core competencies that, the
authors argued, enhances the efciency of CSR activities.
Also consistent with our ndings, Porter and Kramer (2006) suggested that
there are two dimensions—one internal and one external—that should be consid-
ered in creating effective, enduring, CSR. “Strategic CSR involves both inside-out
and outside-in dimensions working in tandem. It is here that the opportunities for
shared value truly lie” (Porter & Kramer, 2006, p. 10). Porter and Kramer (2006)
argued that when a business applies its resources, expertise, and management
talent to societal problems in which it has a stake, it can have a great impact on
social good.
Our results, and proposed framework, thus, indicate that the determinants of
CSR in professional sport are consistent with Bruch and Walter (2005) and Porter
and Kramer (2006). Based on the convergence of our ndings and the above
recent work in the management literature concerning the internal and external
determinants of CSR, we propose a framework of CSR in professional sport. Our
734    Babiak and Wolfe
proposed framework incorporates both an external, stakeholder, perspective and
an internal, resource, perspective. Our investigation specied particular external
forces that lead sport organizations to engage in CSR (i.e., context, content, con-
stituents, control, and cause (Oliver, 1991)) as well as the attributes of internal
resources (Barney, 1991) that contribute to sport organizations’ CSR advantages
(i.e., value, rareness, inimitability). In addition, our framework suggests that the
nature of professional sport organizations’ CSR efforts depends upon an organiza-
tion’s focus on external, social issues and/or on its internal resources. We address
this next.
Depending on the emphasis an organization places on external factors (soci-
etal issues; stakeholder concerns), or on its resources, we argue that particular
types of CSR initiatives will be adopted (see Figure 2). When external pressures
are the essential determinants of a sport organization adopting CSR, it is classied
as practicing stakeholder-centric CSR. Such initiatives are certainly ethically
appropriate as the organization meets societal needs. However, such initiatives
usually cannot be sustained in the long run as they are not based on the organiza-
tion’s core competencies (Bruch & Walter, 2005).
A number of the CSR programs of the sport organizations included in our
study fell within the stakeholder-centric CSR cell, including Read-To-Achieve.
The NBA’s Read to Achieve campaign is a year-round national program
designed to help young people develop a life-long love for reading and on-line
literacy, as well as encourage adults to read and talk regularly with children.
Reaching an estimated 50 million children a year, Read to Achieve is the most
extensive educational outreach initiative in the history of professional sports. The
effort includes the annual donation of more than 200,000 books and the creation
Figure 2 — Determinants of the adoption of corporate social responsibility in professional
sport: A proposed framework.
Determinants of CSR    735
of Reading and Learning Centers in schools and community-based organizations
throughout the country. (NBA, 2008)
Although this program is well established and implemented by each NBA
team, the resources and core competencies of the teams are not aligned with the
educational nature of the program. While the celebrity association of players and
teams may be a resource used to encourage reading, the core competencies of the
teams are not related to reading or education. Thus Read To Achieve is classied
as stakeholder-centric.
An organization with a high internal resource orientation and a low external
orientation is classied as practicing corporate-centric CSR. Teams adopting such
an orientation emphasize synergies between their core business activities and
CSR. This approach, however, largely neglects societal needs. Since this type of
CSR does not address a company’s key stakeholders, it lacks a strategic orienta-
tion and its impact on a team’s competitive position tends to be limited (Bruch &
Walter, 2005).
An example of a corporate-centric initiative includes the Punt, Pass, and Kick
program, that gives boys and girls the opportunity to show their skills in NFL
stadiums and supports the development of young athletes. The Punt, Pass, and
Kick program is part of a larger league-mandated effort focusing on youth. “NFL
Youth Football has an essential presence in all 32 NFL markets and beyond. NFL
Youth Football programs help participants enjoy the NFL experience every time
they step on a eld” (National Football League Youth Football, 2008). The corpo-
rate benet of this CSR program, thus, is to develop future generations of football
fans by generating interest in the game of football.
A sport team with high external and internal orientations in its CSR efforts is
classied as practicing strategic-CSR. These teams align their CSR efforts with
their core competencies using the organization’s unique abilities to benet soci-
ety, thus enabling the team to fully realize the potential of CSR both for its bene-
ciaries and for the team (Bruch & Walter, 2005). We suggest that strategic-CSR is
the optimal CSR approach, one that best leverages the resources that are available
within the organization while addressing societal needs.
We believe that the “Fit Kids, Healthy Future” program of the NBA team in
our study represents a strategic-CSR initiative. This program uses resources such
as coaches, athletes, the team’s mascot, corporate sponsors, nonprot partners,
tickets and in-stadia signage to address community needs in the area of youth t-
ness and health that falls in line with both the competencies and resources the team
has and focuses on a particularly pressing social problem in the local community.1
Proposed Research Agenda
We hope that the research ndings and preliminary framework presented in this
paper will facilitate further investigations into this area so that a more complete
picture of the sport industry’s CSR efforts will be developed. To that end, we
identify some areas for further research below.
The directions we propose are consistent with the suggestion of Margolis and
Walsh (2003) and Walsh (2003), that the CSR research agenda move away from
the much studied relationship between CSR and nancial outcomes to addressing
(a) the external pressures to engage in CSR that organizations face and (b) how the
736    Babiak and Wolfe
internal resources of organizations are used in CSR initiatives. Before getting to
questions generated by our model, however, we address a more general research
Given that there has been very little empirical research done on CSR in pro-
fessional sport, we believe that it is important to establish a baseline of such
efforts. As a starting point, such research would include gathering data on what
CSR programs have been initiated by each team in each of the four major leagues.
CSR initiatives could be classied by the type of social issue (e.g., environment,
health, education, risk-prone behavior) and demographic group (e.g., minority,
elderly, youth, inner city) that is addressed. Gathering such data on an annual
basis, and relating them to relevant macro (e.g., economic), organizational (e.g.,
team success “on the eld”), and individual (e.g., player misconduct; change in
ownership) variables will shed some light on what the drivers of CSR adoption
and maintenance are. Such an initiative is consistent with Godfrey and Hatch’s
(2007) suggestion that CSR research use single industry data sets and incorporate
longitudinal research.
Returning to the framework presented above—a number of propositions
emerge from it; as examples:
1. Given that corporate-centric CSR initiatives emphasize corporate
competencies but tend to neglect societal needs, the impact of this type of
CSR on society will be limited.
2. Given that stakeholder-centric CSR initiatives focus on societal needs, but not
on the organization’s core competencies, such initiatives will not serve external
constituents as well as initiatives of organizations that have capabilities more
directly related to the societal issue being addressed. Furthermore, given that
these efforts are not based on organizational capabilities, they will not be
sustained over a long period of time.
3. Given that strategic-CSR initiatives leverage a company’s core competencies
and take societal needs into account, these CSR initiatives have optimum
benets for their beneciaries and for the company.
Investigating such propositions will, by no means, be without challenge. In
considering such research, one must rst consider the unit of analysis. The appro-
priate unit would be the CSR initiative, as opposed to the sport organization—as
one organization can have CSR initiatives in more than one cell. For example,
while an NBA team’s Read To Achieve program may be in the stakeholder-centric
cell, a team’s basketball development initiative may be in the corporate-centric
cell. Another important consideration is deciding which cell is most appropriate
for a particular CSR initiative. Such determination would be dependent upon
answering the following questions: is an initiative consistent with a team’s com-
petencies and/or external, societal, needs? Answers to such questions will, neces-
sarily, be subjective. We suggest that an initial approach to get at this would be to
determine where the organizations initiating CSR programs perceive their pro-
grams to best t into the framework. A preliminary approach, thus, will be to
interview team executives, community relations employees, and team foundation
directors to determine their perspectives concerning where their programs t in
the framework. A related focus for exploration would be to assess the multiple
Determinants of CSR    737
CSR-related efforts of a team by plotting them on the proposed model to get an
overall sense of the emphasis of the team’s initiatives.
Another direction for future research would be further investigation of the
frequency results of this study. As implied above, it may be that “cause” was the
least frequently mentioned of the ve external determinants because it represents
the expectations that underlie the other external pressures and, therefore, may be
subsumed by those other pressures. It was also suggested that internal resources
were not mentioned as often as external pressures due to professional sport execu-
tives being very sensitive to their external environment given the unique, stake-
holder-dependent, nature of their industry and due to sport executives not yet
appreciating the unique nature of their resources—resources that can contribute to
unique advantages in providing CSR activities. Given the inductive nature of this
study, interviewees were not explicitly asked about any of the external or internal
determinants that emerged in the study. To get a more accurate sense of the rela-
tive importance of these determinants, closed-ended questions that specify deter-
minants would need to be asked.
A further, future, direction in which to embark would be to address intended
CSR outcomes; i.e., to what extent do programs have the intended inuence? As
examples, how much has the reading of students attending Read To Achieve ses-
sions improved?; to what extent does the NFL’s Volunteer Playbook increase vol-
unteerism? Other outcome variables could be organizational in nature including,
as examples, the extent CSR programs inuence corporate reputation and fan
In this article, we have presented the results of a preliminary investigation into the
determinants of professional sport teams’ CSR efforts. We found that the primary
drivers of CSR in these organizations were external pressures (context, content,
constituents, control, and cause) on the organization as well as internal resources
that are rare, valuable, and inimitable. We proposed a framework that concurrently
considers external pressures and internal resources to explain the adoption and
focus of professional sport organizations’ CSR initiatives. We hope that our dis-
cussion of CSR in professional sport, and more specically the framework we
propose, will provide a basis for, and motivate, investigation of the types of ques-
tions we present above.
Given that research of CSR in sport is in its infancy, we thought it important
to bound the territory we addressed in this paper. We thus limited our work in
two ways. First, our article addresses CSR in professional sport. We believe,
however, that the essence of our ndings (i.e., the internal and external determi-
nants of CSR) are relevant to other areas of sport—e.g., mega sport events (e.g.,
Olympic Games, FIFAs World Cup, Super Bowl), intercollegiate athletics, and
other professional sport entities such as the PGA, and NASCAR, each of which
engage in some form of CSR. The extent to which our proposed framework is
generalizable to these other areas remains an empirical question to be addressed
in future work.
738    Babiak and Wolfe
This work has also been bounded by addressing only one aspect—the
“saintly” aspect of CSR in professional sport. Others have addressed CSR “saints
and sinners” within a corporate context (Wokutch & Spencer 1987) as well as
within the context of sport (Gladden & Wolfe, 2001). Unfortunately there are
ample examples of “sinning” behavior in professional sport (very recently we
have had examples of sinning behaviors by professional players (e.g., Michael
Vick (Schmidt & Battista, 2007)), coaches (e.g., Bill Belichick (Battista, 2007b))
and referees (e.g., Tim Donaghy (McCarthy, 2007)). Future work should consider
such negative elements of CSR — and how they may inuence “saintly” behavior,
that may be instituted to counter it.
Of particular relevance to this study and to others examining the motives
and drivers of CSR is a particular challenge in doing such research. It is dif-
cult to study the antecedents of CSR as external stakeholders view CSR more
favorably if it is divorced from any discussion of the bottom line. Managers,
thus, may not reveal more instrumental motivations of their CSR activities.
This makes it difcult to determine the “in use” motivations for CSR (Rodri-
guez, Siegel, Hillman, & Eden, 2006, p. 740). We recognize this challenge. We
make no effort, however, to deconstruct the input of our interviewees here —
as that is considerably beyond the scope of this study. We do, however, recog-
nize that what we report are the “espoused” determinants of CSR adoption in
the organizations we studied. Future research, such as that that we describe
above (i.e., to relate CSR initiatives to relevant macro (e.g., economic), organi-
zational (e.g., team success), and individual (e.g., player misconduct; change
in ownership) variables), has the potential to uncover what “in use” CSR moti-
vations are.
Given the emphasis on social responsibility in other industries as well as its
dramatic growth over the past two decades within sport, we are condent that this
will remain an important issue facing professional sport organizations for years to
come. Our preliminary investigation into this area has shown that varied forces
external to the organization, such as constituents, the initiatives of other organiza-
tions, and more broadly, the perceived expectations of society, play important
roles in the adoption of CSR by professional sport teams. From an internal per-
spective, resources also play an important role in determining the adoption of
CSR. The framework we propose incorporates these two perspectives, can serve
as the basis of future examination of social initiatives in professional sport, and
may prove of pragmatic value by highlighting an area not currently at the fore-
front of thought on the part of managers in professional sport the extent to
which their organizations incorporate resources that can contribute in a unique
manner to addressing societal issues.
1. We cannot envision there being a CSR program without either external or internal
forces; we therefore, do not discuss the “AdHoc CSR” cell in Figure 2.
Determinants of CSR    739
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... François et al. (2019) add to this discussion, suggesting that CSR engagement can be considered as either 'explicit'or 'implicit'. Babiak and Wolfe (2009) reported that PSOs mainly implemented strategic CSR initiatives due to institutional pressures (external factors), such as league pressure, internal resources (facilities, coaches and athletes), interconnectedness, and primary constituents (laws and customers). PSOs have institutionalised CSR, and pressures from team employees, corporate partners, customers, and other stakeholders have also served to increase PSO participation in CSR initiatives (Babiak and Wolfe, 2009); Munro et al., 2018). ...
... Babiak and Wolfe (2009) reported that PSOs mainly implemented strategic CSR initiatives due to institutional pressures (external factors), such as league pressure, internal resources (facilities, coaches and athletes), interconnectedness, and primary constituents (laws and customers). PSOs have institutionalised CSR, and pressures from team employees, corporate partners, customers, and other stakeholders have also served to increase PSO participation in CSR initiatives (Babiak and Wolfe, 2009); Munro et al., 2018). Additionally, it is postulated that the CSR determinants of PSOs are analogous to other industries. ...
... In this context, sponsorship, because of its pro-social character, is naturally embedded in the sustainable development and corporate social responsibility activity of enterprises. Therefore, the research so far, among others, has focused on socially responsible activities in sport (Walker, Parent, 2010; Kang, Hur, 2012), reasons for getting involved in CSR practices by professional sports teams (Babiak, Wolfe, 2009 Recently sustainable development and CSR have gained companies' attention due to their strategic importance. The sustainability and CSR activities are based on the understanding of interrelationships between organizations, the society and the environment, as it has been already recognized that they interrelate rather than operate as discrete entities (Sudolska, Łapińska, 2020;Hu et al., 2016;Pinelli, Maiolini, 2017). ...
... 37). As claimed by Flöter et al. (2016) and other scientists (Babiak, Wolfe, 2009;Bason, Anagnostopoulos, 2015), linking sports sponsorship with sustainability and CSR activities allows sponsors to demonstrate the value of the company and to strengthen its reflection through image transfer from the positive image of a sports facility to its own. The positive effect is that an event is transferred to the consumer's sustainable development and CSR scheme, resulting in a better perception of the sponsoring brand as a socially responsible brand (Uhrich et al., 2014;Christensen, 2006;Kim et al., 2020). ...
... On the other hand, Ekholm and Dahlstedt (2017) pointed out that professional sports can bring social solidarity if internal issues are managed in this sport. Failure to manage your professional sport can lead to multiplicity in society (5). It seems that if some issues, such as fair play, are implemented in professional sports, it can lead to the improvement and expansion of ethics in sports. ...
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The present study was designed and conducted with the aim of investigating the role of professional sports development on the indicators of social development in Iran. The present study is of the mixed researches which was done qualitatively and quantitatively. The statistical population included elites and experts in the social and sports fields who were familiar with the research topic. Based on the purposive sampling method, 13 people were identified as participants in the qualitative research part. In addition, all of these individuals were examined as a research sample in the quantitative part. The data collection tools consisted of an interview and a researcher-made questionnaire. In order to analyze the data, coding was used in the qualitative part and structural equation method was used in a small part. All the process of data analysis was performed through the SPSS software, version 20 In the qualitative part, 42 characteristics were extracted through interviews, which were classified into 7 general indicators of social development, including justice, social capital, social vitality, social welfare, social development ethics, social security, and social health. The results showed that the development of professional sports on the social capital index (effect = 0.857, sig = 0.001), social welfare (effect = 0.748, sig = 0.001) and social health (effect = 0.718, sig = 0.001) is more effective than other indicators of social development.
... Coach Ethical Leadership, Ethical Climate, and Affective commitment in Soccer Clubs Despite extensive research on the effects of CEL in various businesses, little is known about how it acts in the sports industry (Bedi et al., 2016;Constandt et al., 2018). In addition to substantial media coverage, specialized shareholders, and a focus on performance that extends beyond the financial side, sport's distinctiveness is defined by the practically unconditional passion and dedication of everyone involved (Babiak & Wolfe, 2009;Chadwick & Dawson, 2018;Mahsud, Yukl, & Prussia, 2010). Even though the literature acknowledges the importance of fan and volunteer loyalty to sports teams, the loyalty and commitment of other significant shareholder groups to sports teams are mostly disregarded (Hoye & Cuskelly, 2007;Park, Kim, & Song, 2015). ...
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A multitude of ethical dilemmas perpetually besets non-professional soccer. It is believed that coaches can be beneficial in preventing unethical behavior. Therefore, this study examines the moderating effect of perceived ethical climate on the relationship between coach ethical leadership and the affective commitment of non-professional soccer players. A convenient sampling technique was utilized to collect data from 300 amateur Thai soccer players for this purpose. The Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) demonstrated that the direct effect of player-perceived coach ethical leadership and player-perceived ethical climate has a significant and positive relationship with affective commitment. The indirect impact of the critical findings indicates that players' perceptions of the ethical environment moderate the relationship between their perceptions of the ethical leadership of their coaches and their affective commitment. These findings suggest that ethical climate is integral because it significantly mediates exogenous and endogenous variables. Therefore, this moderating effect relationship is a significant contribution to the study. This study could assist athletes and clubs in understanding the significance of coaching ethical leadership and ethical climate in enhancing the affective commitment of non-professional athletes.
... Both corporate partners and sport properties strive for a strong fit between their respective brands in corporate partnerships to achieve higher levels of success. The stronger the congruency (i.e., fit or alignment) between property and brand, the more likely target markets will respond to advertisements, messaging, and other sponsorship outcomes [17,18], fulfilling the partnering brands' objectives and goals. Similarly, sport and sponsor brands benefit from a strong fit with corporate social responsibility initiatives [19][20][21]. ...
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The sport sector is advancing its efforts to be environmentally friendly. These efforts now include corporate sponsored environmental initiatives, yet fans’ responsiveness to such efforts remains unexamined. Specifically, in this study, the corporate-sponsored environmental initiatives of a college athletic department with an established history of environmental commitments were examined to evaluate the influence of a point of attachment, sport brand-sustainability fit, and receptivity to messaging on the sport organization’s desired outcomes of the campaign (i.e., sustainability behavioral, support for environmental initiative corporate partner). Data were collected from college football fans of an institution in the United States Midwest region using an internet-based survey after the 2019 football season (N = 548). We found that most of our hypotheses were supported. Specifically, attachment to athletics, athletics/sustainability fit, and ascription of responsibility to athletics explained 52.7% of the variance of receptivity to messaging from athletics. In turn, receptivity to sustainable messaging and behaviors explained 45.0% of the support for corporate partners. Our results show that sport practitioners should evaluate the ascription of responsibility their fans place on the sport organization to be environmentally responsible, increasing the receptivity of environmental messages and desired outcomes from such efforts. In addition, this study shows the versatility and applicability of the model to actual sponsored environmental sustainability campaigns of a sport organization.
Purpose With the growing popularity of sports in Taiwan, the Sports Administration under the Ministry of Education introduced the Taiwan iSports Corporate Award campaign. This emphasised sports for employees and assisted in developing and supporting corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities in the sports industry through collaboration with firms, thereby enhancing their corporate image, facilitating the recruitment of high-quality employees and highlighting healthy human resources and brand value. Can sports-based CSR performance reflect firms' market values and reduce their market risks? This study regards Taiwan iSports Corporate Award announcements as important sports-based CSR disclosures and incorporates financial econometrics to examine the relationship between the announcement of sports-based CSR performance and firms' market values and risks. Design/methodology/approach An event study is conducted to clarify the reactions of the Taiwan iSports Corporate Award announcement event on the abnormal returns of award-winning firms during the 2016–2021 period, and a regression discontinuity design (RDD) model is employed to verify the robustness of the empirical results using the event study method. Findings Taiwan iSports Corporate Award announcements are not significantly reflected in the positive abnormal returns of award-winning firms. No causal relationship is found between the two. However, there are signs of relatively less systematic risks when investing in award-winning firms than in the market. Originality/value This study provides empirical evidence and managerial implications for Taiwan iSports Corporate Award-winning firms. It effectively enables business operators, sponsors or investors to understand the reactions of announcing sports-based CSR performance on the financial market and provides references for corporate organizations' CSR and sustainable development.
While the football market has enjoyed sustained revenue growth in the last few decades, this has not led to consistent improvement in the financial performance of all of its clubs. As a result, financial performance has become one of the dominant narratives about football, with regular commentary on financial success or failure at both league and club level. This chapter identifies a range of sources of financial information about clubs, both primary and secondary sources, and discusses their role in terms of both decision-making and providing accountability to stakeholders. The chapter also discusses the increased emphasis on football financial regulation and critiques its role in the game’s governance. More broadly, acknowledging that financial information only presents a partial narrative of the contribution, value and costs associated with professional football, the chapter considers other types of performance and value such as social and environmental, and discusses ways in which information on these areas is communicated and reported by and about clubs.
My goals in this concluding chapter are twofold. First, I review what I think are the most important policy takeaways from the preceding chapters. While I have provided a number of quantitative estimates for various aspects of facility subsidy debates, I think the more helpful insights for policy analysts involve correctly framing and understanding the measurement of property tax expenditures. Second, I draw attention to aspects of the public financing of sports facilities that this book raises but does not answer. Some of these matters bear on the property tax directly; others are tangential. I hope this chapter inspires future research.
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Our study presents a research framework that examines the implementation of social accountability development within football clubs, taking into account the social accounting practices that should be regulated in the football industry. We use a methodological model proposed by A. G. Puxty and developed by the research work of Peter Miller in order to highlight the role of football club accounting as a social practice. We show that the progressive development of social responsibility in the football industry requires the establishment of a sectoral framework for the strategic integration of social responsibility that takes into account the specificities of football. To develop our integrative research framework, we conduct a methodical review of 181 empirical studies of corporate social responsibility (CSR) implementation to provide a status quo of the current state of affairs. Our integrative framework is based on four levels: a normative level, a strategic level, an operational level and a higher level. We find that the strategic integration of corporate social responsibility (CSR) into the sports industry is also subject to continuous change. The results of the study confirm that further cross-review processes between literature on strategic CSR integration and research on integrated reporting in the football industry have the power to moderate the next stage of the research.
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Past examinations of highly identified sports fans have typically focused on the positive aspects of identification with the team in terms of attitudes, participation, attendance at events, merchandise purchases, and other pro-team related behaviors. The current research, however, investigates the dark side of what may be seen as excessive fan identification - characterized by dysfunctional behaviors such as excessive complaining and confronting others at sporting events. This study presents a measure useful in classifying highly identified fans in terms of their dysfunctional nature and delineates associated problem behaviors (viz., event drinking, blasting officials, aberrant media consumption) and differentiating individual characteristics.
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This article traces the concept of corporate social responsibility (CSR) from its post WWII beginnings in popularity up through the end of the 1990s. The article focuses on definitions or understandings of the concept/construct. It does not focus on actual company practices during this time as they were quite varied. (This article has been ranked #1 most read in the Business and Society journal for years now).
Researchers have reported a positive, negative, and neutral impact of corporate social responsibility (CSR) on financial performance. This inconsistency may be due to flawed empirical analysis. In this paper, we demonstrate a particular flaw in existing econometric studies of the relationship between social and financial performance. These studies estimate the effect of CSR by regressing firm performance on corporate social performance, and several control variables. This model is misspecified because it does not control for investment in R&D, which has been shown to be an important determinant of firm performance. This misspecification results in upwardly biased estimates of the financial impact of CSR. When the model is properly specified, we find that CSR has a neutral impact on financial performance. Copyright © 2000 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Catalytic alliances are network organizations that affect long-term social change indirectly through catalytic action. Hands Across America and the Partnership for a Drug-Free America illustrate indirect action that attempts resolution of complex social problems. Preconditions, the vision-driven nature, and network characteristics are discussed.
To date, cause-related sport marketing (CRSM) has not received much academic attention. However, it is particularly relevant given recent estimates on the amounts that will be spent on cause-related efforts in 2002. Therefore, the purpose of this article is to set forth a framework for managing cause-related sport marketing programs. The framework is derived using both past research on causerelated marketing and branding theory. It theorizes the necessary conditions that must be present if the CRSM program is to result in the intended outcomes of 1) enhanced brand image, 2) enhanced brand loyalty and 3) consumer brand switching.
Given the importance of image matching as a rationale for sponsorship investment, this paper examines the extent to which image matching occurs in U.S. intercollegiate athletics. Utilizing student-athlete education and athletic program ethics as image dimensions, while controlling for winning, the authors find that individual corporations tend to sponsor athletic programs that project very different images. The authors then prescribe an approach that prospective sponsors could use to determine appropriate image matches.
Understanding sources of sustained competitive advantage has become a major area of research in strategic management. Building on the assumptions that strategic resources are heterogeneously distributed across firms and that these differences are stable over time, this article examines the link between firm resources and sustained competitive advantage. Four empirical indicators of the potential of firm resources to generate sustained competitive advantage-value, rareness, imitability, and substitutability are discussed. The model is applied by analyzing the potential of several firm resources for generating sustained competitive advantages. The article concludes by examining implications of this firm resource model of sustained competitive advantage for other business disciplines.
When it comes to philanthropy, executives increasingly see themselves as caught between critics demanding ever higher levels of "corporate social responsibility" and investors applying pressure to maximize short-term profits. In response, many companies have sought to make their giving more strategic, but what passes for strategic philanthropy is almost never truly strategic, and often isn't particularly effective as philanthropy. Increasingly, philanthropy is used as a form of public relations or advertising, promoting a company's image through high-profile sponsorships. But there is a more truly strategic way to think about philanthropy. Corporations can use their charitable efforts to improve their competitive context - the quality of the business environment in the locations where they operate. Using philanthropy to enhance competitive context aligns social. and economic goals and improves a company's long-term business prospects. Addressing context enables a company to not only give money but also leverage its capabilities and relationships in support of charitable causes. That produces social benefits far exceeding those provided by individual donors, foundations, or even governments. Taking this new direction requires fundamental changes in the way companies approach their contribution programs. For example, philanthropic investments can improve education and local quality of life in ways that will benefit the company Such investments can also improve the company's competitiveness by contributing to expanding the local market and helping to reduce corruption in the local business environment. Adopting a context-focused approach goes against the grain of current philanthropic practice, and it requires a far more disciplined approach than is prevalent today But it can make a company's philanthropic activities far more effective.