CSR Performance Proxies in Large-Sample Studies: Umbrella Advocates, Construct, Clarity, and the Validity Police

The Essex Accounting Centre (EAC) warmly invites you to join Professor Giovanna Michelon from the University of Exeter as she explores Corporate Social Responsibility performance.

  • Wed 19 Jun 19

    14:00 - 16:00

  • Colchester Campus


  • Event speaker

    Professor Giovanna Michelon, Professor of Accounting and Director of Research (Accounting), University of Exeter

  • Event type

    Lectures, talks and seminars
    Essex Accounting Centre (EAC) Research Seminar Series

  • Event organiser

    Essex Business School

  • Contact details

    Dr Osamuyimen Egbon

The aim of the Essex Accounting Centre (EAC) research seminar series is to support our world-class research activities in four key areas: social responsibility and corporate governance; (management) accounting change (in privatised, public and third sectors); global development, corruption and accountability; and reporting, regulation and capital markets. The seminar series is also expected to promote inter-disciplinary research that links the work of members of the centre with others both within the university and with external institutes. 

Seminar abstract

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) performance is multidimensional and is often considered an "umbrella" construct (Gond and Crane, 2010). This multidimensionality has generated substantive concerns regarding the construct validity and reliability of common empirical proxies of CSR performance (CSRP); thereby attracting the "validity police" (Rowan and Berman, 2000; Gond and Crane 2010). 

Although the breadth and depth of CSRP measurement continues to increase, its links to an underlying, agreed-upon theory remains in doubt. Meanwhile, a market for quantitative measurement of CSPR has grown dramatically. 

The majority providers of CSR ratings are;

  • MSCI (ESG STATS, formerly known as KLD)
  • Thomson Reuters (ASSET4)
  • Sustainalytics (ESG Indicators)

Almost all large-scale empirical studies dealing with CSR use only one of the three providers as the source for their CSRP proxies.

The purpose of this study presented at this seminar is to review the CSRP constructs and proxies employed in studies published in a select set of influential journals and working paper series, and to determine whether the results might be influenced by the selection of CSRP proxies.

The analysis is situated within broader academic debates concerning the calibration of construct and proxy convergence and precision, which provides a basis for evaluating the empirical durability of CSRP constructs across proxy specifications.

Using a combination of statistical techniques and interviews with professionals involved in the CSR ratings and investment industry, our analyses show the potential for empirical results to be significantly sensitive to proxy selection and provide qualitative evidence that helps explain the need for more precise and thorough construct and proxy development. 

It is asserted that this research is critically important because the accounting literature builds on significant results generated by different proxies for CSRP.


This is a free event. Please feel encouraged to bring along your colleagues, friends and classmates.

Speaker bio

Professor Giovanna Michelon is the Professor of Accounting and Director of Research (Accounting) at the University of Exeter Business School. 

She joined the Business School in May 2013. She was formally at the University of Padova (Italy), at the Department of Economics and Management, where she also obtained her PhD in Economics and Management.

Giovanna has worked as visiting scholar at the University of Birmingham, Concordia University (Montral, Canada) and University of Central Florida.

She is currently serving as Editor in Chief of the EAA Accounting Research Centre, as well as Co-editor of Accounting Forum and a member of the CSEAR council.

 Giovanna's work mainly relates to corporate social responsibility and governance and it has been published in leading academic journal such as; 

  • European Accounting Review
  • Accounting Auditing and Accountability Journal
  • British Journal of Management
  • Journal of Business Ethics

Her research focus is at the interface between corporate governance and social responsibility; broadly this involves building upon a stakeholder-oriented approach to governance, investigating how governance shapes firms' social responsible activities and reporting practices, understanding the business case for CSR and exploring the role of CSR information for market participants and other stakeholders.

She has recently been looking at the effects and implications of shareholders' demands for CSR.