When firms decide to engage in the provision of collective goods that benefit social welfare (i.e., to behave pro-socially), they may consider the economic relevance of such goods for their own market operation. The bigger the stake of the firm in a given market, the greater its reliance on the market’s collective goods (e.g., communication networks, transportation infrastructure). Therefore, a market’s relative importance for a firm should be a significant predictor of corporate pro-social behavior—an association that is not explained by theories on social preferences or strategic considerations. I test this argument by constructing a measure of corporate economic reliance on market systems based on the literature on club goods and analyzing data on corporations’ philanthropic responses to 3,115 natural disasters between 2003 and 2013, inclusive. I show that accounting for variation in economic reliance leads to a more accurate prediction of the frequency and magnitude of corporate pro-social behavior than widely invoked arguments rooted in the strategic philanthropy and institutional literatures, which neglect such firm-market connection.
This study examines the institutional role of transnational ethnic communities in MNEs’ location choice. Research has revealed that ethnic communities facilitate international expansion by serving as conduits of knowledge. We propose that ethnic communities also fulfill a governance role by facilitating entry into locations that present high transaction hazards for foreign firms. This effect is based on community norms and social enforcement, and becomes particularly helpful in places with weak formal institutions and high transaction hazards. We test these ideas on the location choices of Korean banks across Chinese provinces during 1992-2013. Taking advantage of a historical event that created a quasi-random distribution of Koreans across provinces, we find support for our ideas.