Responding to Pope Francis’s appeals in Laudato si’ and to societal pressures, multinational enterprises (MNEs; Dunning, 1977) are increasingly searching for ways to structure demands for corporate social responsibility (CSR). Previous literature, however, suggests that the positive effects of CSR initiatives are not certain; moreover, alliance-based CSR remains an understudied area. Therefore, we propose a model based on a “matched” alliance approach to increase the efficacy of, and positive response to, CSR initiatives. We argue that MNEs increase the legitimacy and/or business-process efficiency of CSR initiatives by partnering with not-for-profit (NFP; Schwenk, 1990) organizations in alliances that “match” common objectives with complementary capabilities, which in turn results in positive responses to CSR initiatives. We propose that CSR activities from the following matched alliances will result in more positive media coverage: between MNEs and NFPs, between a local MNE and local NFPs (vs. a foreign MNE and local NFPs), and between local MNEs and NFPs in an emerging (vs. developed) market. Our case and media-intensity analyses for Walmart’s Katrina Assistance, Infosys’s Campus Connect, and Unilever’s Project Shakti span matched alliances between local and foreign MNEs in emerging and developed markets. Our findings document positive media coverage surrounding CSR initiatives whenever MNEs partner with matched local NFPs. In addition, positive media coverage is more for local rather than foreign MNEs, and for CSR initiatives in emerging, rather than developed, markets.

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