A neuroscience-based model of why and when CEO social values affect investments in corporate social responsibility

Christophe Boone, Tine Buyl*, Carolyn Declerck, Miha Sajko

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Why and when do CEOs invest in corporate social responsibility (CSR)? We theorize how CEOs’ intrinsic motivations – their social values – and the incentivizing context interact to determine the utility they attach to generating collectively beneficial outcomes in decision-making, subsequently manifested in organizations’ CSR investments. Based on a review of neuroscience evidence, indicating that social values are associated with distinct patterns of neural activation, we propose that these values are the compass by which CEOs navigate in complex decision environments. For CEOs with other-regarding values, generating collectively beneficial outcomes is part and parcel of their utility function. They are intrinsically motivated to invest in CSR, regardless of context. In contrast, CEOs with self-regarding values derive utility from generating collective benefits only when it is monetarily or socially incentivized. They are extrinsically motivated to invest in CSR when they stand to gain from it personally.
Original languageEnglish
JournalLeadership Quarterly
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2020


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