Date of Defense


Date of Graduation




First Advisor

Mingming Feng

Second Advisor

Xiaodan Wang


According to the shareholder theory, the sole social responsibility of a company is to increase its profits and shareholders’ value (Friedman, 1970). However, the stakeholder theory states that a company owes the social responsibility to a wider group of stakeholders (Donaldson & Preston, 1995). Stakeholders refer to any person or group which can affect or be affected by the actions of a business, such as employees, customers, suppliers, creditors, competitors and the wider community. Around the world, more and more firms are increasing their engagement in corporate social responsibility (hereafter, CSR) and exploit CSR as the center of their corporate strategy to build and maintain strong relationship with stakeholders and to improve firm performance (Bauman & Skitka, 2012; Siegel & Vitaliano, 2007).

According to Aguinis (2011, p.855), CSR is defined as “context-specific organizational actions and policies that take into account stakeholders’ expectations and the triple bottom line of economic, social, and environmental performance”. Companies use CSR to help recognize their stakeholders’ needs, understand the needs’ risks and opportunities, and respond to those needs publicly and consistently (PwC, 2015). McWilliams and Siegel (2001) argued that CSR actions are beyond the companies’ interests and over the requirements by law. Most firms tend to improve social conditions and protect environment through CSR practices (Mackey et al., 2007).

To promote positive customer experience, make great workplace, and support communities, Target Corp. created 1.17 million volunteer hours, increased 26 percent of the offered organic food, and decreased 13 percent of water from year 2009 to 2014 (Target, 2015). Sony Corp. collects end-of-life products every year all over the world to maintain a sustainable environment for future generations. In year 2014, Sony Corp. collected approximately 23,853 tons of used consumer electronics through the Take Back Recycling Program. As of March 2015, Sony Corp. collected 158,128 tons of electronics equipment scrap through the Recycling Program Website and 64 tons of used electronics through the Green Glove Program (Sony Corporation, 2015).

CSR reporting has become a global trend. Covering 4,100 firms across 41 countries, the 2013 KPMG Survey of Corporate Responsibility Reporting suggested that the Americas has become the leading corporate responsibility (hereafter, CR) reporting region (KPMG International, 2013).1 As of year 2013, 76 percent of companies from the Americas, 73 percent from Europe, and 71 percent from Asia Pacific reported their CR activities. Besides, 93 percent of the largest 250 corporations in the world reported their CR activities (KPMG International, 2013). According to the Ernst & Young Value of Sustainability Reporting, 39 percent of U.S. companies reported their CSR activities compared to 61 percent of companies from the rest of the world (EY, 2013).

The objective of this thesis is to examine the CSR reporting practices across different industries in the United States. We examine the most recent CSR reports of ten S&P 500 companies from different industries. Industries are defined as the first two digits of the Global Industry Classification Standard (GICS) codes (Standard & Poor’s Indices, 2008). The thesis continues as follows. Section 2 discusses the benefits and guidelines of CSR reporting. Section 3 reports our sample and methodology. Section 4 presents the empirical results of analysis. Section 5 concludes.

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Restricted

Restricted to Campus until