Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 154, Issue 4, pp 1051–1079 | Cite as

New Evidence on the Role of the Media in Corporate Social Responsibility

  • Sadok El Ghoul
  • Omrane GuedhamiEmail author
  • Robert Nash
  • Ajay Patel
Original Paper


Prior research suggests that the media plays an important information intermediary role in capital markets. We investigate the role of the media in influencing firms’ engagement in corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities. Using a large sample of 4396 unique firms from 42 countries over the period 2003–2012, we find strong evidence that firms engage in more CSR activities if located in countries where the media has more freedom. This relation is robust to using various proxies for media freedom, an alternative source of CSR data, and to applying the instrumental variables approach to address endogeneity. In additional analyses, we find that the positive relation between media freedom and CSR engagement is stronger for better governed firms and for larger firms. Since the media have the ability to impact reputational capital, we conclude that media freedom affects firms’ incentives to engage in costly CSR activities.


Corporate social responsibility Media freedom Corporate governance Corporate reputation 

JEL Classification

G34 M14 



The authors thank an anonymous reviewer, Najah Attig, Narjess Boubakri, Ruiyuan Chen, Jun-Koo Kang, Greg Shailer (Editor), Helen Wang, Ying Zheng, and participants at the 2016 FMA Asia/Pacific Conference and the 2016 Conference on the Impact of Corporate Social Responsibility for constructive comments. We appreciate generous financial support from Canada’s Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council and the School of Business at Wake Forest University and excellent research assistance from Ruiyuan Chen.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sadok El Ghoul
    • 1
  • Omrane Guedhami
    • 2
    Email author
  • Robert Nash
    • 3
  • Ajay Patel
    • 3
  1. 1.University of AlbertaEdmontonCanada
  2. 2.University of South CarolinaColumbiaUSA
  3. 3.Wake Forest UniversityWinston-SalemUSA

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