Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 124, Issue 3, pp 485–507 | Cite as

Corporate Environmental Responsibility in Polluting Industries: Does Religion Matter?

  • Xingqiang Du
  • Wei Jian
  • Quan Zeng
  • Yingjie Du


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


Corporate environmental responsibility (CER) Polluting industries Religion Buddhism Law enforcement index Business ethics China 



We are especially grateful to the editor (Prof. Domènec Melé) and two anonymous reviewers for their many constructive comments and valuable suggestions. We appreciate constructive comments from Feng Liu, Guohua Jiang, Donghua Chen, Jinhui Luo, Wentao Feng, Hongmei Pei, Shaojuan Lai, Yingying Chang, and participants of seminars in Xiamen University, Anhui University, Ocean University of China, and Shanghai University. Professor Xingqiang Du acknowledges the National Natural Science Foundation of China (approval number: 71072053), the Key Project of Key Research Institute of Humanities and Social Science in Ministry of Education (approval number: 13JJD790027), and the Specialized Research Fund for the Doctoral Program of Higher Education of China (approval number: 20120121110007) for financial support.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Accounting Department, School of ManagementXiamen UniversityXiamenChina
  2. 2.Xiamen National Accounting InstituteXiamenChina
  3. 3.School of ManagementXiamen UniversityXiamenChina
  4. 4.Accounting Department, School of ManagementShanghai UniversityShanghaiChina

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