Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


College of Science and Mathematics


Earth and Environmental Studies

Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Yawei Wang

Committee Member

Seddik Meziani

Committee Member

Dibyendu Sarkar

Committee Member

Avinandan Mukherjee

Committee Member

John Cusack


As consumers have become increasingly aware of sustainability issues, corporations find themselves facing the dual task of demonstrating to customers and investors that they are capable of meeting the challenge of addressing environmental concerns while increasing profits. Many corporations provide corporate social responsibility (CSR) reports, despite challenges from shareholders questioning the benefits. Firms in different sectors may have unique challenges. This may mean that the same extent of reporting will not be applicable to all businesses.

The main objective of this dissertation is to determine which characteristics identify firms that engage in CSR and reporting, and how the firm benefits from reporting, then to determine if a firm can drive its performance benefits derived from reporting by focusing on internal environmental orientation. This will be accomplished by three studies.

The first study will examine the organizational and management characteristics that influence a firm’s decision to report on CSR. CSR reporting will be based on a standardized framework that allows different levels of adoption. We will assess the relationship between CSR reporting and two of its expected outcomes – financial performance and reputation. A positive effect on these outcomes may encourage more firms to report on CSR activity.

The second study will focus on six industrial sectors to determine the role that industrial membership and environmental risk has on a firms’ decision to engage in voluntary reporting. Financial performance of the six sectors will be compared. The ability to demonstrate a positive outcome on financial performance from CSR reporting could support an expansion in CSR engagement by corporations, as well as encourage the inclusion of environmental liability as part of the analysis that investors use when assessing an opportunity. Additionally, a demonstration of positive performance relative to safe investments for environmentally sensitive firms can be encouraging to managers who are hesitant to embrace CSR reporting.

The third study will examine the relationship between firms’ environmental strategy and orientation and performance. This will allow us to determine how management’s intentions for environmental issues is perceived by employees who are tasked with implementing strategy, and how CSR strategy is adopted at the corporate level.