Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 132, Issue 4, pp 795–811 | Cite as

Managerial Morality and Philanthropic Decision-Making: A Test of an Agency Model

  • Cheng-Li Huang
  • Ju-Lan Tsai


While previous authors have broadly examined the motivations and outcomes of the philanthropic activities of organizations, the present study extends Miska et al.’s (J Bus Ethics 1–12, 2013) rationalistic approach to examine the degree to which managerial philanthropic decision-making behaviour is dominated by morality. This study also tackles the question of whether this relationship is moderated by the strength of the geographical proximity and amount of the donation within an agency framework. To probe the radical agency problem and the effect of intervention, an alternative heuristic scenario is also developed to provide evidence that managers under the same moral level show significant differences in donation intention under a variety of agency conditions. The results indicate a significant difference between the existence and non-existence of agency problems in charitable decision-making by managers high in idealism and relativism; however, at the same time, philanthropic behaviour is intertwined with various dilemma-related contexts. These findings bridge the gap in the literature on ethics and corporate social responsibility, and challenge current thinking on corporate governance mechanisms in this area by offering researchers and practitioners an integrated model that responds to a strong sceptical bias or a high premium placed on morality.


Moral philosophy Corporate charitable decision Contextual factors Agency problem 



Corporate social responsibility


Ethics position questionnaire


Human resource management



The authors gratefully acknowledge the financial support by National Science Council (NSC 100-2410-H-032-035). In addition, we also appreciate the two blind reviewers’ constructive suggestions for improving the quality of this study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AccountingTamkang UniversityNew TaipeiTaiwan, ROC
  2. 2.Accounting Section, Graduate Institute of Management SciencesTamkang UniversityNew TaipeiTaiwan, ROC

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