corporate social responsibility; costs of high leverage; stakeholder theory of capital structure
Research on capital structure and product market interactions shows that high leverage is associated with substantial losses in market share due to unfavorable actions by customers and competitors. We examine whether corporate social responsibility (CSR) affects firms’ interactions with customers and competitors, and whether it can reduce the costs of high leverage. We find that CSR reduces losses in market share when firms are highly leveraged. By reducing adverse behavior by customers and competitors, CSR helps highly leveraged firms keep customers and guard against rivals’ predation. Our results support the stakeholder value maximization view of CSR.