Corporate Social Responsibility in the Banking Sector

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Abstract
As countries of the world used large amounts of public funds to manage the 2008 financial crisis, public debt has risen to a critical level in many of them. Due to the drop in real economy, several countries faced unemployment and economic fallback that are still unresolved to this day. After the crisis, many were concerned how to restore the confidence in financial institutions and how banks can better contribute to sustainable social and economic growth. This paper discusses corporate social responsibility (CSR), an attitude putting ethical norms in the spotlight. The CSR pyramid distinguishes various layers of responsibilities. The first at the bottom is economic responsibility, serving as the foundation for the pyramid, however, companies also need to comply with legal norms. Ethical responsibility is the obligation to conduct in a fair way and to do the right thing. After the crisis, central banks in many countries became responsible for sustaining financial stability. To this end, central banks have developed their own corporate social responsibility strategies. This activity is studied from the view of how CSR can contribute to financial stability.
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STUDIES
Public Finance Quarterly 2015/1 95
T
THE ACTORS OF FINANCIAL MARKETS
AND THEIR SYSTEM OF RELATIONS
According to traditional economics, the
highest eciency of economic welfare is
achieved by reaching the Pareto-optimum.
is desirable state of the economy can
be basically achieved through a pure and
restriction-free market. Deviations from the
equilibrium can be remedied by improving
market operations. In such a world, relations
between economic actors can be established
and maintained by market coordination
only; ethical and bureaucratic coordination is
strictly separated and undesirable. Crises lead
to purer and more ecient markets. In our
opinion, such views tend to ignore the true
operation of society and the economy, as well
as the consequences of economic volatility,
which undermine society and cause long-term
economic setbacks.
Since the 2008 crisis stems from the nan-
cial sector, we set out to explore, within the
nancial domain, the possibilities of increas-
ing ethical coordination in public awareness
and thus better fullling social expectations.
We must note that in our view, the enforce-
ment of ethical aspects does not contradict
market interests either on a macro or a micro-
economic level. Economic welfare, however,
may be increased alongside such values which
are considered by traditional economics as ex-
ternalities.
Looking back at economic history, the
seeds of economic activities sprouted from
the exchange and lending of money, which
was later expanded by deposit transactions.
Transactions were regulated by ethical norms
Csaba Lentner − Krisztina Szegedi − Tibor Tatay
Corporate Social Responsibility
in the Banking Sector
Summary: As countries of the world used large amounts of public funds to manage the 2008 financial crisis, public debt has
risen to a critical level in many of them. Due to the drop in real economy, several countries faced unemployment and economic
fallback that are still unresolved to this day. After the crisis, many were concerned how to restore the confidence in financial
institutions and how banks can better contribute to sustainable social and economic growth. This paper discusses corporate
social responsibility (CSR), an attitude putting ethical norms in the spotlight. The CSR pyramid distinguishes various layers of
responsibilities. The first at the bottom is economic responsibility, serving as the foundation for the pyramid, however, companies
also need to comply with legal norms. Ethical responsibility is the obligation to conduct in a fair way and to do the right thing.
After the crisis, central banks in many countries became responsible for sustaining financial stability. To this end, central banks have
developed their own corporate social responsibility strategies. This activity is studied from the view of how CSR can contribute to
financial stability.
KeywordS: corporate social responsibility, bank, public awareness, financial stability, business ethics
JeL codeS: M14, E58 E44 G28
E-mail address: tatay@t-email.hu
STUDIES
96 Public Finance Quarterly 2015/1
for centuries, especially as far as lending was
concerned. With the increasing prevalence of
market economy, these ethical rules have all
but disappeared in Europe and in countries
that have embarked upon the development
of market economy. (Fekete – Tatay, 2013)
In the 19th and 20th centuries, the turmoil
of the nancial system caused the states to as-
sume a role in the regulation of nancial in-
stitutions. During the history of the nancial
institutional system, ethical, market and bu-
reaucratic coordination was present to a vary-
ing degree in the relations of nancial opera-
tors. e last quarter of the 20th century was
characterised by the dominance of market co-
ordination. is development is indicated by
the deregulation and liberalisation of nancial
markets. e expansion of nancial processes
beyond borders is not a new phenomenon,
however, the proliferation of cross-border
transactions and the standardisation of the
rules of these transactions are the results of the
changes seen in recent decades. is process is
generally referred to as nancial globalisation.
New technologies and methods, introduced
to nancial markets and supported by liberali-
sation, have generated an unprecedented level
of nancial innovation. e image of nancial
markets has been reshaped by these new in-
struments, solutions, transactions and institu-
tional forms.
e number of people aected by the activ-
ities of nancial organisations tends to be very
large, since not only owners and employees,
but also those using their services are linked to
a given institution for years or decades. Using
their services is not a one-o act or a system
of relations that can be easily dissolved, but
a long-term commitment. External stakehold-
ers “co-exist” with nancial institutions for
decades through their long-term investments
or loans. e nancial management of a given
organisation directly inuences their present
or future, as their investments can be de- or
revaluated, their income can change and their
debt service may be modied. (Sági, 2012)
e global economy of the 1990s saw a
signicant increase in the importance of -
nancial organisation activities. At the same
time, these institutions have acted as a re-
lay for the global proliferation of the crises.
Moreover, their transactions and instruments
themselves have become the reasons for the
crises and contributed to deepening their im-
pact. (Bessler ‒ Kurmann, 2013) e crises in
Latin America highlighted the phenomenon
of nancial markets acting as channels that
convey these crises. e crisis in East Asia has
shown how a region’s economic problems can
be deepened or caused by nancial institu-
tions. e collapse of Barings Bank in 1994
and the crash of LTCM (Long Term Capital
Management) in 1998 drew attention to the
risks of innovative products and transactions.
Tensions that have been lurking deep under
the surface have become clearly visible with
the outbreak of the crisis in 2008.
e crisis that erupted at the epicentre of
the nancial markets, namely the nancial
markets of the USA, deeply aected most of
the developed world. It was not conned to
the boundaries of the nancial markets, also
causing a recession in real economy, as well
as social problems. Several avenues have been
explored as to how to remedy the crisis and
avoid similar events happening in the future.
e key areas of these analyses included re-
views on the nancial literacy of households,
the assessment of nancial sector regulations
and the implementation of self-regulation in
the nancial sector. e latter again concerns
the possible involvement of ethical coordina-
tion. Ethical aspects remain to be present in
particular areas, with the attention towards
them increasing as a result of the crisis. An
example of such ethical restraints, applied to
nancial activities in a special way, is the Is-
lamic way of nancing. Banks jointly assume
STUDIES
Public Finance Quarterly 2015/1 97
risks with their clients, they do not place ex-
treme burdens on borrowers that would con-
tradict the principles of Islam and depositors
do not expect an interest on their deposits.
(Bajkó – Varga, 2013)
In developed market economies, nancial
institutions, searching for a way out, started
to focus more on corporate social responsibil-
ity. Even their nancial statements pay atten-
tion to the social, economic and environmen-
tal impacts of their operations. In essence, a
bank’s stable nancial position, increasing
economic performance, ethical and transpar-
ent activities and responsible nancial services
ensure its predictable and reliable operation,
which also enables it to acknowledge and
serve the interests of society to a larger degree.
In the nancial sector, besides the short-
term internal business interests of companies,
social, environmental and human rights ob-
jectives are gaining a dominant and increasing
role. An interesting example for the latter can
be accessed on the website of OTP’s Fáy An-
drás Foundation (www.otpfayalapitvany.hu/
galeria/tipus/videogaleria/video/414). Open
Society Archives preserves documents from
various countries that serve as evidence of the
violation of human rights, which are also used
in litigation.
THE GENERAL INTERPRETATION OF CSR
IN THE BANKING SECTOR
ere is no universally accepted denition of
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). It is
described as an instrument, a concept or even
a business model that requires companies to
apply a radical change in attitude. e latter
assumes a paradigm shift in business, according
to which there is more to a company than
return on investment and maximisation of
prot. It is also a community of people, which
operates in a social and natural environment,
the environmental and social impacts of which
must be considered (Szegedi, 2014).
One of the best known and most widely ac-
cepted denition of CSR is by Carroll, who says
that corporate social responsibility encompasses
the economic, legal, ethical, and discretionary
(philanthropic) expectations that society has of
organisations. e CSR pyramid (see Chart 1)
distinguishes various layers of responsibilities.
e foundation is economic responsibility. At
the same time, however, companies also need
to comply with legal norms. Ethical responsi-
bility equals the obligation to conduct in a fair
way and to do the right thing, going beyond
mere compliance with rules. It can also mean
discretionary or philanthropic responsibility
(Carroll, 1991).
e banking sector responded relatively late
to the challenges of CSR. First it considered
environmental, then social issues (Viganò ‒
Nicolai, 2009). CSR as an instrument of the
business sector serves to increase and legitimise
the sector’s economic performance and also ap-
pears as the embodiment of the fundamental
principles of business ethics (Scholtens, 2006).
e 2008 nancial crisis drew attention to the
necessity of CSR in this sector also, increasing
the need for trust, as well as accountability and
transparency that lead to it. Besides the role of
an intermediary which channels savings into
investments, traditionally considered as the
main social function of nancial institutions,
besides ecient allocation and risk manage-
ment, the need for ethical and responsible con-
duct has led to nancial and investment pro-
cesses pointing beyond the protection of the
legitimate interests of depositors and owners
(Tzu-Kuan Chiu, 2013).
Banks’ stakeholders include the owners,
borrowers, depositors, managers, employees
and regulators. Compared to many other sec-
tors, a key characteristic of the banking sector
is that it aects a large number and a great
variety of people. is results in considerably
STUDIES
98 Public Finance Quarterly 2015/1
more complex information asymmetry. An-
other feature of the system is that in order to
ensure the stability of the banking sector, it
is characterised by much stricter regulation
(Yamak et al., 2005). Since the banking sec-
tor diers from other economic sectors, its
CSR practices are also dierent. Here there is
more emphasis on responsibility in the areas
of bank lending, investment and asset man-
agement operations, where combating bribery
and money laundering are particularly impor-
tant issues, being the key elements of anti-
corruption eorts, which is a crucial part of
the banks’ CSR activities (Viganò‒ Nicolai,
2009).
Although banks have smaller direct impact
on the environment, their indirect environ-
mental and social responsibility may increase
if they grant credit to companies which pol-
lute the environment, produce unsafe prod-
ucts or violate human rights (Idowu – Filho,
2009). is way banks act as mediators of
sorts, which may cause signicant damages.
(ompson ‒ Cowton, 2004). e indirect
impact may arise not only in relation to the us-
ers of banking services, but also the suppliers.
As the management element of the responsi-
ble supplier chain, integrating environmental
and social aspects into supplier policies has
been adopted to nances as well.
Applying Carroll’s CSR model to the -
nancial sector, the levels of responsibility in
terms of the banks are the following (Carroll,
1991):
Chart 1
CSR pyRamid
Source: Authors’ own editing based on Carroll, 1991.
Philanthropy
Ethical
responsibility
Legal
responsibility
Economic responsibility
STUDIES
Public Finance Quarterly 2015/1 99
u Economic responsibility. is is the tradi-
tional reason for having banks, in other words
to increase the owners’ welfare, ensure prot-
ability and growth. One of the means of this
is nancial innovation. Since individual and
corporate nancial interests are constantly
changing, banks create new opportunities for
risk management and the eective mediation
of resources. is involves developing new
products, redening the existing ones and
creating new channels. Interaction with stake-
holders has a crucial role in determining these
new products (Decker ‒ Sale, 2009).
v Legal responsibility. Regulation is de-
termined by statutes, and its aim is to mini-
mise risk and ensure safety and condence in
the nancial system. In practice, statutes are
supplemented by the compliance with the
guidance of various supervisory bodies and
trade associations, which is signied by the
compliance function (Decker ‒ Sale, 2009).
Such statutes include Recommendation No.
11/2006 or 6/2013 (III.11) of the Hungarian
Financial Supervisory Authority in Hungary;
Compliance and the Compliance function in
banks, the Guidelines on Internal Governance
(GL 44, September 2011) or the Guidelines
on Certain Aspects of the MiFID compliance
function requirements in the European Un-
ion; and the Foreign Account Tax Compliance
Act, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and
Consumer Protection Act (2010) or the UK
Bribery Act, 2010 (Wieland, 2013) at an in-
ternational level.
w Ethical responsibility. Ethical norms can
be interpreted through individual conscience
and the expectations of external stakeholders.
e motto of the London Stock Exchange „My
word is my bond” embodies the basic ethical
principles of honesty and sincerity, which to-
gether with trust, are traditionally linked to
the nancial sector (Decker ‒ Sale, 2009).
e codes of ethics that embody voluntary
constraints also include the basic principles of
integrity, fair conduct, respect and transpar-
ency in the nancial sector. e ethical values
and expectations of stakeholders are most ap-
parent in the stakeholder dialogue, which puts
communicative ethics into practice. Decker
and Sale (2009) draw attention to the fact
that the compliance approach, which is aimed
at compliance with statutes, often does not
favour the establishment of ethical business
practices and business culture.
x Discretionary (philanthropic) responsibil-
ity. It cannot be interpreted through external
expectations; it is a voluntary activity, how-
ever, it has become common practice among
banks, contributing to the better reputation
of the nancial sector (Decker ‒ Sale, 2009).
In the years following the crisis, there was
an apparent shift in social expectations to-
wards the general domains of CSR in the
banking sector and its preferences. ere is
a need for the endorsement of social expec-
tations in CSR that are more directly linked
to the bank’s business activities and clientele.
(Lentner, 2011)
As far as stakeholders are concerned, the
key expectations of clients include secure
products and appropriate information provi-
sion. Employees want a safe workplace that is
free from discrimination, and the respect of
human dignity, while competitors expect fair
competition. Banks not only need to watch
the direct environmental impacts of their own
operations, but also the impacts of their lend-
ing activities (ompson and Cowton, 2004).
From a social aspect, there has been a new
development in recent years, namely helping
the poor. One example is the micro-loan pro-
gramme through low-income banking (Tzu-
Kuan Chiu, 2013). e backdrop to this is the
UN’s Principles for Responsible Investment,
which stresses the importance of „inclusive -
nance” for vulnerable groups which otherwise
could not aord nancial products and ser-
vices (PRIs 2011).
STUDIES
100 Public Finance Quarterly 2015/1
Chart 2 shows banking activities and CSR
activities in relation to the typical CSR areas
of the banking sector. Banking activity is in-
terpreted in terms of the balance sheet total
and the number of branches, while CSR ac-
tivity shows whether the bank integrates CSR
initiatives into its business activities or just ap-
plies the philanthropic aspect. e following
CSR map is based on information available on
the websites of Hungarian commercial banks.
In our opinion, the CSR approach can be
expanded to other areas. During decision mak-
ing, benets and damages could be considered,
which are yielded or caused by that particular
decision outside of a given organisation and
not inuencing their prot in the short-term.
For example, faulty product development
causing system-level failures may destroy the
savings of certain household groups. e ba-
sic principles could be laid down in voluntary
codes of ethics that go beyond the statutes in
order to keep to the right directions. ere
should be more stress on guaranteeing com-
pliance with the Codes Of Ethics in banking
organisations. In the previous example of Is-
lamic banking, the implementation of Islamic
principles is checked by a separate supervisory
board. e enforcement of ethical principles
Chart 2
The CSR map of bankS
CSR ACTIVITY
Activity integrated into business
• Developing financial literacy and awareness,
financial education
• Responsible, prudent lending, risk
management
• Fair and transparent financial
services, handling of complaints
• Helping disadvantaged clients to use banking
services, products for clients with special
needs
• Involvement and ethical treatment of stakeholders
• Providing financial support to social enterprises
• Financing environmental protection
investments
• Developing the basic principles of financing
sensitive sectors
• Combating money laundering, corruption and
terrorism
Non-business activities
• Volunteering to improve the living
environment
• Supporting disadvantaged social groups
• Supporting local communities
• Supporting sports
• Supporting NGOs
•Supporting culture and the arts
• Supporting disadvantaged people
• Supporting sports
• Supporting the arts, culture and science
• Supporting NGOs
• Mitigating environmental impacts (selective
waste collection, office layout)
• Providing jobs, appropriate working
conditions, equal opportunities
BANKING ACTIVITY
Source: authors’ own editing
STUDIES
Public Finance Quarterly 2015/1 101
is guaranteed on the level of individual con-
tracts.
ere are an increasing number of people
who think that business decision-making
must not only consider prot maximisation,
but businesses should also voluntarily contrib-
ute to solving social issues, since it is not their
economic interest, but their moral responsi-
bility (Barclift, 2012). CSR needs to apply a
value-oriented approach that becomes an in-
tegral part of the banks’ everyday operations
and is incorporated into the organisational
culture.
e global survey of the CFA Institute
(2013) collected the opinions of 6783 re-
spondents from 22 countries. 56 per cent
identied a continuing lack of ethical cul-
ture within nancial rms as the major fac-
tor contributing to the current lack of trust in
the nance industry. Two-thirds of respond-
ents said that a culture of ethics and integrity
within rms needed to be reestablished, since
the primary problems were not the physical
failures of the market or government actions,
but the culture of rms within the nancial
industry. However, it is not enough to come
up with basic ethical principles; they should
also be implemented: “Ethics is an ongoing
project to help restore trust in the nancial
industry. We need to improve nancial profes-
sionals’ sense of self control, construct related
culture for the whole industry and set a seri-
ous penalty system for any illegal and unethi-
cal activities.” (CFA Institute, 2013, page 9).
INTRODUCING CSR IN CENTRAL BANK
ACTIVITIES
e mitigation of the impacts of the 2008
nancial crisis consumed vast amounts of public
funds. A considerable amount of public funds
were required to manage the crisis immediately
and then soften its consequences. Bank bailout
packages, economic recovery measures and the
management of unemployment were all strains
on state budgets. is led to rising public
debt in many countries. As a result of these
severe consequences, the role of central banks
in nancial stability has been reconsidered in
several countries. (National Bank of Hungary,
2013) e central bank’s role in maintaining
nancial stability has also been redened in
countries like the United States. Another
example is the European Central Bank.
(Naményi, 2012) Financial sustainability and
stability functions can generally be interpreted
as parts of CSR and they can be implemented
by using the tools provided by CSR.
Becoming aware of their social responsibili-
ties, central banks have established their CSR
strategies and activities. Traditional CSR ar-
eas, such as equal opportunities and environ-
mental protection have also been incorporat-
ed into these strategies. An important role is
given to information provision and improving
nancial literacy through education. rough
education and the provision of information,
central banks now focus on enhancing the -
nancial awareness of people who use nancial
services and highlight the importance of re-
ducing information asymmetry. Examples for
applying such methods are the Fed (Chicago
Fed, 2012) or the National Bank of Hungary.
Apart from regulatory tools, central banks
also have the option of transforming process-
es by inuencing expectations, opinions and
mindsets. We must not forget that taking out
loans and using investment or other nancial
services always entails uncertainties in the
decision-making of economic actors. Central
banks which pursue active communication
can shift these decisions in the right directions
by utilising the psychological components be-
hind the decision-making process. Herd men-
tality and the importance of expert opinions
may be used to prompt economic actors to
pursue proper conduct. (Sunstein ‒ aler,
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agement Challenges in the 21st Century. LAP LAM-
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T, P. ‒ Cowton, C. J. (2004). Bringing
the Environment into Bank Lending: Implications for
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view. 36, pp. 197–218
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Vállalatirányítás –integritás és átláthatóság erősítésének
eszközei (Compliance Function. Responsible Corpo-
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annual_report
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gyi felügyeleti funkciójának megerősítése (Strengthen-
ing the MNB’s Financial Supervisory Functions)
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MNB/Sajtoszoba/vitaanyagok/Felugyelet_HU.pdf#p
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is research was (partially) conducted in the frame-
work of the Centre of Excellence of Mechatronics and
Logistics as part of the strategic research activities of
the University of Miskolc. (Identication number:
TÁMOP–4.2.1.B–10/2/KONV–2010–0001)
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  • Global Market sentiment survey
    • S Yamak
    Yamak, s. (2005). state as a stakeholder. Corporate Governance. 5(2), pp. 111–120 http://www.otpfayalapitvany.hu/galeria/tipus/vid- eogaleria/video/414 CFA institute (2013): Global Market sentiment survey. Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago (2012): Promoting Financial stability: taking on New Roles, Communicating different Ways. 2012 Annual Report http://www.chicagofed.org/webpages/publications/ annual_report National Bank of Hungary (2013): Az MNB pénzügyi felügyeleti funkciójának megerősítése (strengthening the MNB's Financial supervisory Functions) http://www.mnb.hu/Root/dokumentumtar/
  • CsR in the european Banking sector: evidence from a survey Corporate social Responsibility in europe: Rhetoric and Realities
    • F Viganò
    • Nicolai
    Viganò, F. ‒ Nicolai, d. (2009): CsR in the european Banking sector: evidence from a survey. in: Barth, R. ‒ Wolff, F. (ed.) (2009): Corporate social Responsibility in europe: Rhetoric and Realities. edward elgar Publishing inc. isBN 978 1 84720 764 7
  • Compliance funkció. Felelős Vállalatirányítás -integritás és átláthatóság erősítésének eszközei (Compliance Function. Responsible Corporate Governance -Means of increasing integrity and transparency)
    • Zs Wieland
    Wieland, Zs. (2013): Compliance funkció. Felelős Vállalatirányítás -integritás és átláthatóság erősítésének eszközei (Compliance Function. Responsible Corporate Governance -Means of increasing integrity and transparency). e&Y Baker&McKenzie conference.
  • Crisis Aftermath: economic Policy Changes in the eu and its Member states. university of szeged
    • J Sági
    sági, J. (2012): debt trap -Monetary indicators of Hungary's indebtedness. Beáta Farkas (ed.) Crisis Aftermath: economic Policy Changes in the eu and its Member states. university of szeged, p. n.a.p. 13 scholtens, B. (2006). Finance as a driver of Corporate social Responsibility. Journal of Business Ethics. 68(1), pp. 19-33
  • Nudge, Jobb döntések egészségről, pénzről és boldogságról − A pénzügyi válság után (Making Better Decisions on Health, Money and Happiness − After the Financial Crisis). Budapest, Manager Könyvkiadó Kft
    • R C Sunstein
    • R H Thaler
    sunstein, R. C. -Thaler, R. H. (2011): Nudge, Jobb döntések egészségről, pénzről és boldogságról − A pénzügyi válság után (Making Better Decisions on Health, Money and Happiness − After the Financial Crisis). Budapest, Manager Könyvkiadó Kft. p. 264
  • Bringing the environment into Bank Lending: implications for environmental Reporting. The British Accounting Review
    • K Szegedi
    • P Thompson
    • C J Cowton
    szegedi, K. (2014): Possibilities of Corporate social Responsibility. in: Berényi L. (ed.) (2014): Management Challenges in the 21st Century. LAP LAM-BeRt Academic Publishing. thompson, P. -Cowton, C. J. (2004). Bringing the environment into Bank Lending: implications for environmental Reporting. The British Accounting Review. 36, pp. 197-218 tzu-Kuan Chiu (2013): Putting Responsible Finance to Work for Citi Microfinance. J Bus ethics. dOi 10.1007/s10551-013-1626-1
  • CsR in the european Banking sector: evidence from a survey
    • F Viganò
    • D Nicolai
    Viganò, F. -Nicolai, d. (2009): CsR in the european Banking sector: evidence from a survey. in: Barth, R. -Wolff, F. (ed.) (2009): Corporate social Responsibility in europe: Rhetoric and Realities. edward elgar Publishing inc. isBN 978 1 84720 764 7
  • A Central Bank of Public Awareness" The social Responsibility strategy of the National Bank of Hungary
    MNB (2008): "A köztudatos jegybank" A Magyar Nemzeti Bank társadalmi felelősségvállalási stratégiája. ("A Central Bank of Public Awareness" The social Responsibility strategy of the National Bank of Hungary.) http://www.mnb.hu/root/dokumentumtar/ mnb/a_jegybank/a_koztudatos_jegybank_.pdf
  • This research was (partially) conducted in the framework of the Centre of excellence of Mechatronics and Logistics as part of the strategic research activities of the university of Miskolc
    • Piif
    PiiF.pdf. Accessed October 10, 2012. This research was (partially) conducted in the framework of the Centre of excellence of Mechatronics and Logistics as part of the strategic research activities of the university of Miskolc. (identification number: tÁMOP-4.2.1.B-10/2/KONV-2010-0001)
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    In this paper, we want to focus on the interactions of shareholder theory, stakeholder theory, institutional theory and agency theory in terms of corporate social responsibility. We will speci®cally study this issue in the context of commercial banks in the ®nancial sector. Financial ®rms appear to be subject to strong technical and institutional pressures. They are also more opaque and subject to heavier regulation than their non-®nancial counterparts. It appears that the application of agency-based assumptions to the ®nancial sector is inadequate in explaining corporate governance and related social responsibility practices. In this context, the structure of asymmetric information seems to be more complex and multi-dimensional. It takes place ®rst between the depositors, the bank and the regulatory authorities; second, between the shareholders , the bank and the regulatory authorities; last, between the borrowers, the managers and the regulatory authorities. These parties also constitute the ®rms' stakeholders. In this respect, the state appears to be a major stakeholder and it is in a position to affect all other bank/stakeholder relations through its regulations and participation in the ®nancial sector. These are the factors that intensify institutional pressures in this sector. The institutional embedded-ness inherent in a special context is likely to affect stakeholder position and attitudes. Therefore, this paper aims to investigate the con¯icting nature of being a stakeholder under institutional pressures and it articulates the factors that determine the behavior of the state as a stakeholder in shaping corporate social responsibility practices of ®rms.