Stakeholder prioritizing in the midst of an economic crisis: A multi-firm, multi-sector study

Keywords: Stakeholders, Economic Crisis, Corporate Social Responsibility, Stakeholder Salience, CSR Activities, Greece


The purpose of this study is to identify the patterns of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities, in adverse economic circumstances, so as to understand the importance ascribed by the companies to each of their stakeholders. Prior research on stakeholder salience has looked into various issues related to the relative attention given to corporate stakeholders by management, however, none has examined what this relationship looks like following a prolonged economic crisis. We investigate the activities of CSR in Greece, examining how companies spend their CSR resources in a depressed economy, studying the respective activity patterns of the companies listed on the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE). Content analysis is used, thoroughly examining all public data available on the internet from 175 companies. The study includes data reported in 2014, collected at the end of 2015. Our results demonstrate that, the most popular CSR activities related to the human resources and the least practiced were the society and environment related ones. The findings show concern for the employees of the companies and their morale, superseding the interest for the other stakeholder categories in spite of the crisis and the soaring unemployment rate. Moreover, a significant divergence emerged between the CSR programs of the various industries. This indicates that for reasons unbeknownst to us, companies are placing less emphasis on consumers, environment and the society and tend to cater to the needs of their internal constituents.


Aguinis, H. and Glavas, A. (2012), „What we know and don’t know about corporate social responsibility a review and research agenda”, Journal of Management, Vol. 38 No. 4, pp. 932–968.

Anadol, Y., Youssef, M., A. and Thiruvattal, E. (2015), „Consumer reaction towards corporate social responsibility in United Arab Emirates”, Social Responsibility Journal, Vol. 11 No. 1, pp. 19–35.

Aras, G, Aybars, A. and Kutlu,O. (2010), „Managing corporate performance: Investigating the relationship between corporate social responsibility and financial performance in emerging markets”, International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management, Vol. 59 No. 3, pp.229–254.

Baba, S., and Raufflet, E. (2017), „Challenging Stakeholder Salience: Lessons from Dormant Local Stakeholders”, in Wasieleski, D., M. and Weber, J. Stakeholder Management, Business and Society 360, Vol. 1, pp. 159–188.

Beckman, T., Khare, A. and Matear M. (2016), „Does the theory of stakeholder identity and salience lead to corporate social responsibility? The case of environmental justice”, Social Responsibility Journal, Vol. 12 No. 4, pp. 806–819.

Berelson, B. (1952), Content analysis in communication research. New York, NY, US: Free Press.

Beaulieu, S., and Pasquero, J. (2002), „Reintroducing stakeholder dynamics in stakeholder thinking: A negotiated order perspective”, Journal of Corporate Citizenship, Vol. 6, pp. 53–69.

Brammer S., Millington A., Rayton B. (2007), The Contribution of Corporate Social Responsibility to Organizational Commitment, International Journal of Human Resource Management, No. 18(10), pp. 1701–1719.

Carroll, A., B., and Shabana, K. M. (2010), „The business case for corporate social responsibility: A review of concepts, research and practice”, International Journal of Management Reviews, Vol. 12 No. 1, pp. 85–105.

Cascio, W. and Aguinis, H. (2008), „Research in industrial and organizational psychology from 1963 to 2007: changes, choices, trends”, Journal of Applied Psychology, Vol. 93 No. 5, pp. 1061–1081.

Chang, K., Nguyen, B., Cheng, K. T., Kuo, C., C. and Lee, I. (2016), „HR practice, organisational commitment & citizenship behaviour A study of primary school teachers in Taiwan”, Employee Relations, Vol. 38 No. 6, pp. 907–926.

Chaudhary, R. (2017), „Corporate social responsibility and employee engagement: can CSR help in redressing the engagement gap?” Social Responsibility Journal, Vol. 13 No. 2, pp. 323–338.

Cordeiro, J., J. and Tewari, M. (2015), „Firm Characteristics, Industry Context, and Investor Reactions to Environmental CSR: A Stakeholder Theory Approach”, Journal of Business Ethics, 130:833–849.

Dias, A., Rodrigues, L., L and Craig, R. (2016), „Global financial crisis and corporate social responsibility disclosure”, Social Responsibility Journal, Vol. 12 Issue: 4, pp.654–671.

Diaz-Pond, J. (2017), „Mapping the Changes of CSR Stakeholder Perceptions in a Context of Economic Depression in Spain: An Approach from Communication and Governance”, Corporate Social Responsibility and Corporate Governance, Published online: 27 Jun 2017, pp. 89–110.

Du, S., Bhattacharya, C.B. and Sen, S. (2010), „Maximizing Business Returns to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR): The Role of CSR Communication”, International Journal of Management Reviews, Vol. 12 No. 1, pp. 8–19.

EC (2014), SBA Fact Sheet – Greece.

Eisenegger, M and Schranz, M. (2011), „Reputation Management and Corporate Social Responsibility”, in: Oyvind Ihlen, Jennifer Bartlett und Steve May (Hrsg.), The Handbook of Communication and Corporate Social Responsibility, Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, S. 128–146.

Fehre, K. and Weber, F. (2016), „Challenging corporate commitment to CSR: Do CEOs keep talking about corporate social responsibility (CSR) issues in times of the global financial crisis?” Management Research Review, Vol. 39 No 11, pp.1410–1430.

Souto, Fernandez-Feijoo, B. (2009), „Crisis and Corporate Social Responsibility: Threat or Opportunity?” International Journal of Economic Sciences and Applied Researches, Vol. 1 No. 1 pp. 36–50.

Ferreira, D. A. Avila, M. G. and de Faria, M. D. (2010), „Corporate social responsibility and consumers' perception of price”, Social Responsibility Journal, Vol. 6 No. 2, pp. 208–221.

Freeman, R., E. (1984), Strategic management: A stakeholder approach, Boston: Pitman.

Freeman, R., E. and Mcvea, J., F. (2001), „A Stakeholder Approach to Strategic Management”, SSRN Electronic Journal, available at:, (accessed 20 September 2016).

Friedman, M. (1970), „The social responsibility of business is to increase its profits”, New York Times Magazine, p. 33.

Fukukawa K., Balmer J.M.T., Gray E.R. (2007) Mapping the Interface Between Corporate Identity, Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility, Journal of Business Ethics, No. 76, pp. 76–98.

García-Benau, M., A., L Sierra-Garcia, A., L. and Zorio, A. (2013), „Financial crisis impact on sustainability reporting”, Management decision, Vol. 51, No. 7, pp. 1528–1542.

Giannarakis, G. and Theotokas, I. (2011), „The effect of financial crisis in corporate social responsibility performance”, International Journal of Marketing Studies, Vol. 3 No. 1, pp. 2–10.

Guerci, M., and Shani, A. B. (2013), „Moving toward stakeholder-based HRM: A perspective of Italian HR managers”, International Journal of Human Resource Management, Vol. 24 No. 6, pp. 1130–1150.

Hellenic Statistical Authority (2017), Research on Human Resources (Press release), (accessed on March 1, 2017).

Holcomb, J. L. Upchurch, R. S., and Okumus, F. (2007), „Corporate social responsibility: what are top hotel companies reporting?”, International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, Vol. 19 No. 6, pp. 461–475.

Ioannou, I. and Serafeim, G. (2012), „What drives corporate social performance? The role of nation-level institutions”, Journal of International Business Studies, Vol. 43 No. 9, pp. 834–864.

Karaibrahimoglu, Y. (2010), „Corporate social responsibility in times of financial crisis”, African Journal of Business Management, Vol. 4 No. 4, pp. 382–389.

Karagiorgos, T. (2010), „Corporate social responsibility and financial performance: An empirical analysis on Greek companies”, European Research Studies, Vol. 13 No 4, pp. 85–110.

Kavoura, A. and Sahinidis, A. G. (2015), „Communicating Corporate Social Responsibility Activities in Greece in a period of a prolonged economic crisis”, Proceedings of the 3rd International Conference on Strategic Innovative Marketing; 1-4 September, Madrid: Elsevier Procedia 175, 496–502.

Kim H.R., Lee M., Lee H.T., Kim N.M. (2010), Corporate Social Responsibility and Employee-Company Identification, Journal of Business Ethics, No. 95, pp. 305–314

Lee, J. H. (2015), „Stakeholder work and value creation stakeholder engagement: An integrative framework”. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. Texas TechUniversity, Lubbock, TX.

Levitt, T. (1958), „The dangers of social-responsibility”, Harvard Business Review, Vol. 36 No. 5, pp. 41–50.

Magness, V. (2008), „Who are the stakeholders now? An empirical examination of the Mitchell, Agle, and Wood theory of stakeholder salience”, Journal of Business Ethics, Vol. 83 No. 2, pp. 177–192.

Matten, D. and Moon, J. (2008), „Implicit and explicit CSR: A conceptual framework for understanding CSR in Europe”, Academy of Management Review, Vol. 33 No. 2, pp. 404–424.

Metaxas, M., Tsavdaridou, M. (2013), „CSR in metallurgy sector in Greece: A content analysis”, Resources Policy, Vol. 38 pp. 295–309

Minor, M. and Morgan, J. (2011), „CSR as Reputation Insurance: Primum Non Nocere”, California Management Review, Vol. 53 No. 3, pp. 40–59.

Mitchell, R.K., Agle, B.R. and Wood, D.J. (1997), „Toward a theory of stakeholder identification and salience: defining the principle of who and what really counts”, Academy of Management Review, Vol. 22 No. 4, pp. 853–886.

Mitchell, R.K., Jae Hwan Lee, J., H and Agle, B., R. (2017), „Stakeholder Prioritization Work: The Role of Stakeholder Salience in Stakeholder Research”, in: Wasieleski, D., M. and Weber, J. Stakeholder Management, Business and Society 360, Vol. 1, 123–157.

Nag, T. and Bhattacharyya, A. K. (2016), „Corporate Social Responsibility Reporting in India: Exploring Linkages with Firm Performance”, Global Business Review, Vol 17 No. 6, pp. 1427–1440.

Neville, B.A., Bell, S.J. & Whitwell, G.J. (2011), „Stakeholder Salience Revisited: Refining, Redefining, and Refueling an Underdeveloped Conceptual Tool”, Journal of Business Ethics, Vol. 102, No. 3, pp. 357–378.

Ni, N., Egri, C., Lo, C. and Lin, C. Y. Y. (2015), „Patterns of corporate responsibility practices for high financial performance: Evidence from three Chinese societies”, Journal of Business Ethics, Vol. 126 No. 2, pp. 169–183.

Orlitzky, M., Schmidt, F. L., and Rynes, S. L. (2003), „Corporate social and financial performance: a meta-analysis”, Organization Studies, Vol. 24 No. 3, pp. 403–441.

Orlitzky, M., Louche, C. Gond, J. C. Chapple C. (2017), „Unpacking the Drivers of Corporate Social Performance: A Multilevel, Multistakeholder, and Multimethod Analysis”, Journal of Business Ethics, 144:21–40.

Peloza, J. and Shang, J. (2011), „How can corporate social responsibility activities create value for stakeholders? A systematic review”, Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, Vol. 39 No. 1, pp. 117–135.

Peloza, J., & Papania, L. (2008), „The missing link between corporate social responsibility and financial performance: stakeholder salience and identification”, Corporate Reputation Review, Vol. 11 No. 2, pp. 169–181.

Porter, M.E. and Kramer, M.R (2006), „Strategy and society: The link between competitive advantage and corporate social responsibility”, Harvard Business Review, Vol. 84 No. 12, pp. 78–92.

Porter, M. E., and Kramer, M. R. (2011), „Creating shared value”, Harvard Business Review, Vol. 89 No. 1, pp. 62–77.

Placier, K., (2011), „The Impact of Recession on the Implementation of Corporate Social Responsibility in Companies”, Journal of Competitiveness, No. 2, pp. 83–98.

Reklitis, P., Trivellas, P., Mantzaris, I., Mantzari, E. and Reklitis D. (2018), „Employee Perceptions of Corporate Social Responsibility Activities and Work-Related Attitudes: The Case of a Greek Management Services Organization”, in: Gal, G., Akisik, O., Wooldrodge, W. eds., Sustainability and Social Responsibility: Regulation and Reporting, pp. 225–241, Springer.

Rupp D.E., Ganapathi J., Aguilera R.V., Williams C.A. (2006), Employee Reactions to Corporate Social Responsibility: An Organizational Justice Framework. Journal of Organizational Behavior, No. 27(4).

Sahinidis, A. G., Daskalaki, D., Mantzari, E., and Mantzaris, I. (2018), „The impact of the economic crisis on the Corporate Social Responsibility activities of Greek companies”, in: Gal, G., Akisik, O., Wooldrodge, W. eds., Sustainability and Social Responsibility: Regulation and Reporting, pp. 241–260, Springer.

Sahinidis, Α., G., and Kavoura, A. (2014), „Exploring Corporate Social Responsibility practices of Greek companies”, The Małopolska School of Economics in Tarnów Research Papers Collection, Vol. 24 No. 2, pp. 185–193.

Skouloudis, A., Chymis, A., Stuart, A. and Evangelinos, K. (2014), „Corporate social responsibility: a likely causality of the crisis or a potential exit strategy component? A proposition development for an economy under pressure”, Social Responsibility Journal, Vol. 10 Issue: 4, pp.737–755.

Schwartz, M. and Carroll, A. B. (2008), „Integrating and Unifying Competing and Complementary Frameworks: The search for a common core in the business and society field”, Business and Society, Vol. 47, pp. 148–186.

Shiu, Y. M. and Yang, S. L. (2017), „Does engagement in corporate social responsibility provide strategic insurance-like effects?” Strategic Management Journal, Vol. 38, pp. 455–470.

Taghian, M., D’Souza, C. and Polonsky, M. (2015), „A stakeholder approach to corporate social responsibility, reputation and business performance”, Social Responsibility Journal, Vol. 11 No. 2, pp. 340–363.

Thijssens, T., Bollen, L. and Hassink, H. (2015), „Secondary Stakeholder Influence on CSR Disclosure: An Application of Stakeholder Salience Theory”, Journal of Business Ethics, Vol. 132, No. 4, pp. 873–891.

Tuppura, A., Arminen, H., Pätäri, S. and Jantunen, A. (2016), „Corporate social and financial performance in different industry contexts: the chicken or the egg?”, Social Responsibility Journal, Vol. 12 Issue: 4, pp.672–686.

Vitaliano, D. F. (2010), „Corporate social responsibility and labour turnover”, Corporate Governance: The International Journal of Business in Society, Vol. 10 No. 5, pp.563–573.

Wang, Q., Dou, J., and Jia, S. (2016), „A Meta-Analytic Review of Corporate Social Responsibility and Corporate Financial Performance the Moderating Effect of Contextual Factors”, Business and Society, Vol. 55 No. 8, pp. 1083–1121.

Wang, H., Tong, L., Takeuchi, R., and George, G. (2016), „Corporate Social Responsibility: An Overview and New Research Directions: Thematic Issue on Corporate Social Responsibility”, Academy of Management Journal Vol. 59 No. 2, pp. 534–544.

Weitzner, D. and Deutsch, Y. (2015), Understanding Motivation and Social Influence in Stakeholder Prioritization, Organization Studies, Vol. 36, No. 10, pp. 1337–1360.

Yoon, J and Lee, S. (2016), „What Makes Employees Zealous Supporters of Their Firm’s CSR Initiative? The Role of Employees’ Perceptions of Their Firm’s CSR Authenticity”, Advances in Group Processes. Published online, pp. 93–126.