I study how organizational form and local market structure influence retail firms' corporate social performance (CSP). The theoretical model is based on agency theory, which in its origin focuses on the dyad between the principal and the agent. I extend this perspective and examine how characteristics of the environment outside the dyad influence the outcomes. Retail stores vary in their organizational form and thereby in their incentives to maximize profits. I hypothesize that the different incentives, together with differences in monitoring costs and principal demand influence CSP. Further, developments in agency theory have suggested that the local market structure can influence the effects of the chain-store contracts. Competition can give corporate stores stronger incentives to maximize profits, and reputation effects can increase the profitability of CSP. The main contribution of this dissertation is testing these predictions empirically with data on the CSP of retail stores and chains. The dissertation consists of an introduction, three independent empirical articles, and a conclusion.
In the first article (“Franchising, local market characteristics and alcohol sales to minors in retail”) I study how the influence of organizational form (franchised vs corporate store) on CSP depends on competition, market size and public monitoring and sanctions. The second article (“Market structure, chain membership and food hygiene in retail”) studies how chain membership and competition influence food hygiene in supermarkets. In the third article (“Retail chains’ corporate social responsibility signaling”) I study how the retail chain's organizational form influences its CSP signaling.
Attached is a pdf which contains the dissertation's "mantel".