The differential effects of CEO narcissism and hubris on corporate social responsibility

Research paper by Yi Tang, Daniel Z. Mack, Guoli Chen

Indexed on: 06 Feb '18Published on: 05 Feb '18Published in: Strategic Management Journal


Research Summary: While prior studies have predominantly shown that CEO narcissism and hubris exhibit similar effects on various strategic decisions and outcomes, this study aims to explore the mechanisms underlying how narcissistic versus hubristic CEOs affect their firms differently. Specifically, we investigate how peer influence moderates the CEO narcissism/hubris—corporate social responsibility (CSR). With a sample of S&P 1500 firms for 2003–2010, we find that the positive relationship between CEO narcissism and CSR is strengthened (weakened) when board-interlocked peer firms invest less (more) intensively in CSR than a CEO's own firm; the negative relationship between CEO hubris and CSR is strengthened when peer firms are engaged in less CSR than a CEO's own firm.Managerial Summary: Some CEOs are more narcissistic while others may be more hubristic, but these two groups of CEOs hold different attitudes toward the extent to which their firms should engage in corporate social responsibility (CSR). Our findings with a large sample of U.S. publically listed firms suggest that narcissistic CEOs care more about CSR, but hubristic CEOs care less. Interestingly, when narcissistic CEOs observe their peer firms engaging in more or less CSR than their own firms, they tend to respond in an opposite manner; in contrast, hubristic CEOs will only engage in even less CSR when their peers also do not emphasize CSR. Our findings point to a fundamental difference between CEO narcissism and hubris in terms of how they affect firms' CSR decisions based on their social comparison with peer firms.

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