Corporate foundations and their governance: Unexplored territory in the corporate social responsibility agenda

Ishva Minefee, Eric J. Neuman, Noah Isserman, Huseyin Leblebici

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review



The purpose of this paper is to examine the governance structures of corporate foundations in the implementation of corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives.


After discussing the heretofore-underutilized research advantages of corporate foundations, the authors survey theoretical perspectives to explain the corporate foundation phenomenon. The authors build on this theory to construct a typology of corporate foundation structures based on their interactions with internal and external stakeholders.


The findings suggest that many of the largest corporations do not embed their corporate foundation into their strategic plan as they define it (i.e. specific alignment with corporate competency).

Research limitations/implications

Research limitations include an examination solely of the 50 largest corporate foundations among a field of nearly 3,000 corporate foundations. The authors advance a research agenda that addresses the potential role of corporate foundations in fulfilling CSR.

Practical implications

The foundation field may see a movement toward corporate foundations being strategically aligned with the parent company’s core competence as external stakeholders continue to pressure companies.

Social implications

Studying corporate foundations is important as they serve as intermediaries between corporations and civil society. Thus, they will continue to play an important role in the CSR agenda.


This paper is one of the first to examine the corporate foundation phenomenon, with a specific focus on their governance. Thus, the authors go beyond the motivations that lead corporations to be involved in “socially responsible activities,” the types of activities that corporations select, and how these choices produce benefits for a diverse set of stakeholders.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)57-75
JournalAnnals in Social Responsibility
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 8 2015


  • Corporate foundations
  • Governance
  • Management


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