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Theoretical and empirical examination of corporate social responsibility in East Asia: Implications from Confucianism, Legalism, and Taoism

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posted on 2022-03-28, 23:46 authored by Shujuan Xiao
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has attracted a great deal of attention in the field of management research in the past few decades. The East Asia region-including Mainland China(China), Japan, South Korea(Korea), and Taiwan-as a unique research context has increasingly attracted CSR scholars due to its importance in the global economy and its different cultural traditions from the West. Studies argue that CSR in Asia demonstrates a strong ethically driven style as a result of long-standing influence from traditional philosophies. However, it remains unclear which are the underpinning philosophies that drive CSR attitudes and behaviours in East Asia. Moreover, CSR studies with a focus on traditional philosophies have often been descriptive in nature,with a lack of empirical evidence and the lack of a comprehensive theoretical framework to guide research in this area forward. This thesis advances CSR research in East Asia through a process of inductive theory development embodied by three studies. Chapter 2 (Study 1) conducts a systematic literature review of current CSR studies East Asia utilizing the methods of co-citation analysis and content analysis to visualize the connections and interactions of key studies and latent themes. Three major Chinese philosophies, namely Confucianism, Taoism, and Legalism,emerge in the literature on CSR in East Asia as having ethical traditions that show strong links with CSR.The findings of this first study justify the need for further investigation into these philosophies and how they can contribute to the understanding of CSR. Chapter 3 (Study 2) then uses a quantitative research design to empirically test the associations between the three philosophies and CSR perceptions at an individual level. Data was collected from East Asian full-time employees in China, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan. The results show that philosophical values are significant predictors for employees'attitudes and behaviours around CSR, demonstrating that East Asian people are fundamentally driven by these philosophies. However, different combinations of philosophical values explain different dimensions of CSR. The findings indicate that the three philosophies may not only act as isolated predictors for CSR but also have more complex associations that have been overlooked. Finally, Chapter 4(Study 3) proposes a philosophical modelincorporatinga Venn diagram to synthesize all three philosophies. This study suggests that the three philosophies interact with each other through their possible moderating or mediating effects.Additionally, the ReVaMB model is applied to CSR, and this highlights the importance of context by suggesting various moderating factors. A comprehensive ReVaMB-CSR model is proposed that can be tested at different levels of analysis to explore how traditional philosophical values drive CSR outcomes. This thesis extends our understanding of CSR in East Asia from a philosophical perspective and makes an original contribution to knowledge through both empirical and theoretical investigations. It introduces the method for literature review studies that map out the CSR landscape in East Asia. The majority of studies rely on Western-developed theories and frameworks,while ethics-focused studies are emerging as a response to a call for indigenous management research. Through rigorous data collection from the region of East Asia, empirical evidence is provided to support ethics-focused studies at the analysis of individual level. More importantly, this thesis initiates new way to look at the relationship between philosophies and invitesfuture studies to test and modify the proposed ReVaMB-CSR model.


Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Introduction -- Chapter 2: Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in East Asia: visualizing the latent themes and connections between semantic concepts -- Chapter 3: Philosophical values and employees' Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) attitude, behaviour, and impact: an examination among China, Korea, Japan, and Taiwan -- Chapter 4: Philosophical approach to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in East Asia: the integration of Confucianism, Legalism and Taoism -- Chapter 5: Conclusion.


Bibliography: pages 114-119 Theoretical thesis.

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


PhD, Macquarie University, Faculty of Business and Economics, Department of Accounting and Corporate Governance

Department, Centre or School

Department of Accounting and Corporate Governance

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Lorne Cummings


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