DOI: 10.1111/beer.12627 ISSN: 2694-6416

The same or different? How optimal distinctiveness in corporate social responsibility affects organizational resilience during COVID‐19

Caini Yang, Jianling Wang, Lemuel Kenneth David
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Philosophy
  • Business and International Management


This study explores how firms build organizational resilience (OR) through constructing their corporate social responsibility (CSR) practices. Based on the optimal distinctiveness theory, we propose that a firm may be able to simultaneously conform in scope and differentiate in emphasis in its CSR practices to meet the institutional and strategic needs of CSR, thus building OR. Using data collected from 574 Chinese listed firms during the unique setting of the COVID‐19 pandemic, we provide evidence that CSR scope conformity enhances organizational stability, whereas CSR emphasis differentiation enhances organizational flexibility during a transboundary pandemic period. Furthermore, firm competitive position strengthens the positive relationship between CSR scope conformity and organizational stability. Market concentration strengthens the positive relationship between CSR emphasis differentiation and organizational flexibility. This study contributes to the CSR and organizational resilience literature by highlighting the influence of CSR optimal distinctiveness on OR.

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