2.1. Managerial Humanistic Attention and CSR
The behavioral decision theory [29
] suggests that the enterprise is an organization that solves the problem of limited attention, and that the behavior and decision-making of the enterprise depend on how the organizational decision makers allocate their attention [11
]. The company attention-based holds that the attention of organizational decision makers is a scarce resource, and the focus point of organizational decision makers represents the extent of “subjective representations of the external environment are dominated by concepts related to one (or more) domain over others” [5
]. From this point of view, what the managers’ attention focus is also able to influence the strategic choice and action of enterprises [31
]. Top managers are confronted with a variety of conflicting notions of attention [12
]. As we known, the company always has a lot of sub goals [29
], such as innovative technologies [7
], organizational performance and size [33
], technological changes [34
], emerging technologies. Because of the limitation, high substitution, perishability and indirectness of attention, the opportunity cost of attention of top managers is very high, and they must to be very careful when they deal with the distribution of attention.
The upper echelons theory holds that the strategic choice of an enterprise is not only influenced by the internal and external environment factors, but also by the limited rationality and cognitive model of top managers. The attention and interpretation of the internal and external environment of top managers will affect the strategic choice of the company [2
]. Upper echelons theory is based on the bounded rationality of human beings. It integrates the characteristics of top managers, strategic choices and organizational performance into the model of upper echelons theory, highlighting the role of demographic characteristics in the cognitive model of managers and the impact on organizational performance. According to the behavioral decision theory [29
], Hambrick and Mason (1984) [2
] suggest that top managers are faced with a lot of complex and vague information far beyond their own processing capacity, so they often make decisions through the selected mechanisms that integrate their experience and their own preferences to cope with the intrinsic complexity of strategic decision-making. In addition, these scripts and patterns are shaped by similar experiences [35
]. First, managers’ vision is limited, which has a serious impact on the final strategic decision. Secondly, managers can only selectively pay attention to some phenomena in the field of vision, which further limits their decision-making. Finally, managers interpret the selected information through a selected mechanism based on top managers’ perceptions and values, and managers’ final perceptions of events combining with their values provide a basis for strategic choice [36
]. Managerial values have attracted widespread attention for many years [37
] and many researchers propose that managerial values are associated with corporate social responsibility in a particular corporate context [38
]. Management values strongly influence observable organizational behavior, such as CSR activities [2
]. Strategic actions and decisions in organizational operation can be regarded as a reflection of top managers’ values. Managerial values reflect the behavioral philosophy of how managers treat members both inside and outside the company and play a fundamental role in management decisions [40
], which in turn strongly affects organizational performance [41
]. There are many kinds of managerial values, of which there is a significant correlation with corporate social responsibility is the humanistic values, to a certain extent, emphasizing the importance of people that is similar to the stakeholder theory.
Humanism is a philosophical and ethical stance that emphasizes the value and agency of human beings, individually and collectively [19
]. In a company, the humanistic value of the top managers is a collective value, which flows out of human relationships and informs their life [43
]. Subsequently it helps shape company institutions and practices that may influence CSR. In this paper, humanistic attention reflects the extent to which human are important, urgent, or legitimate to managers or the degree to which managers give priority to human issues [22
]. Based on the managerial humanistic value, managerial humanistic attention will encourage top managers to do some stakeholder-related activities and make decisions. For example, from the internal view of the company, top managers will pay more humanistic attention-oriented management and employee development, and cultivate outstanding talents. From the external perspective, top management will pay more attention to customers, customer satisfaction and feedback. An enterprise is a complex organization consisting of internal and external stakeholders such as shareholders, creditors, suppliers, managers, employees and customers, and forming a series of multilateral contracts among them. Collaboration to jointly address risks arising from an uncertain environment, both internal and external, forms a community of interests [45
]. In addition, many study found that humanistic management can bring better corporate financial performance and corporate social responsibility performance.
There are three interrelated principles in the basic concept of corporate attention-based view: (1) the focus of attention, that is, what decision-makers make depends on the issues they are concerned about and their solutions; (2) the structured distribution of attention, that is, what specific situations decision-makers find themselves in and how they pay attention to these situations depend on how the organization’s rules, resources and social relations adjust and control issues and their solutions, as well as the specific activities, communications and procedures of decision makers; (3) the situation of attention, that is, what issues the decision-maker is concerned about and how they solve them and what they do depend on their particular situation [11
]. Drawing on the first two principles of attention, one might expect that humanistic attention can lead to CSR [6
]. The first principle is attention focus [31
]. Specifically, managers’ humanistic attention not only facilitates their perceptions and actions toward stakeholders’ issues but also inhibits their perceptions and actions toward other issues [40
]. Therefore, humanistic attention triggers organizational decision makers’ actions and practices to address stakeholders’ related issues, thereby improving CSR. The second attention principle is attention intensity, which reflects attention quality—the extent to which decision-makers concentrate their attentional resources on the attended issues [31
]. As managers allocate more attentional resources to CSR, the intensity of their humanistic attention increases. Finally, top managers initiate more practices and programs to address human issues, resulting in greater CSR. Therefore, we suggest that
Managerial humanistic attention is positively associated with corporate social responsibility.
2.2. Moderating Role of Firm Characteristics
As mentioned above, there are three interrelated principles in the basic concept of corporate attention-based view: the focus of attention, the structured distribution of attention, and situational attention. According to this vein, situational attention facilitates specific attention choices and drives organizational behavior and outcomes [48
]. Upper echelons theory insists that the influence of top management team on organizational performance also depends on the degree of managerial discretion. The managerial discretion refers to the size of the choice of top managers when making strategic decisions. In high degree of freedom organizations, managers are less restricted and more likely to reflect their will to the process of organizational strategy formulation and implementation, thus affecting organizational performance. At the same time, when the degree of freedom of management is high, managers pay more attention to a wide range of areas and the homogeneity of executive attention is lower, more effective access to knowledge and information accompanying by making better strategic decisions. Existing studies have shown that managerial discretion is composed of task environment factors, firm factors, managerial personality characteristics and Chinese situational factors. Some researchers [49
] find that, in China, CEO duality and ownership structure are particularly important factors that determine the extent of managers’ impacts on firms. Another study [7
] suggests that corporate governance mechanisms (i.e., CEO duality and ownership structure) on the relationship between attention to social issues and CSP [50
]. In this section, we choose a different perspective and we will demonstrate how certain firm-level characteristics (i.e., firm age, firm size and slack resource) can moderate the positive relationship between managerial humanistic attention and CSR.
2.2.1. Firm Age
Age has been considered an important indicator of organizational inertia [36
]. A large number of studies have shown that managers feel more comfortable following established practices [51
], and subconsciously restrict exploratory research behavior [46
] along with the firm grows older. Older firms will be constrained by more seemingly natural thinking and adopt more rigid communication patterns [53
]. However, the increase of the firm age often leads to the increase of the firm size and the accumulation of capital. For listed companies, this phenomenon is even more serious. They often have more resources and higher liquidity of assets, thus guaranteeing adequate corporate social responsibility capital, and encouraging executives to have a higher managerial discretion to make strategic decisions according to their preferences. Especially in the context of industrial transformation and upgrading, large enterprises are constantly seeking their own breakthroughs, trying to break through the rigid model to deal with the increasingly fierce competition environment. In addition, the older the enterprise is, the deeper the cultural precipitation is. Moreover, older firm will pay more attention to their good corporate image that takes their many years. Therefore, we propose that
The positive relationship between managerial humanistic attention and CSR is moderated by firm age. Specifically, this relationship becomes stronger when a firm grows older.
2.2.2. Slack Resources
Considering the factors of organizational change, Bourgeois [54
] defines slack resources as an excessive, controlled resource that can be used at will by the organization. This kind of resource is similar to a kind of buffer in the organization’s function, which can make the organization successfully cope with the pressure brought by the implementation of organizational strategy adjustment because of the environment change. Cyert and March [29
] point out that resource availability can affect managerial discretion. Top managers of companies with abundant transferable resources (e.g., cash reserves, unused credit-selling capacity and available managerial and technical personnel) can seek a wider range of options in making decisions [55
]. Companies such as Google, Microsoft and Intel now have plenty of available resources, so top managers can explore broader strategic options. However, despite the abundant resources available to these companies, their executives may face serious bureaucracy and all kinds of costs, which in turn inhibits the managerial discretion of executives, indicating a complex relationship between managerial discretion and many organizational factors. This paper argues that more abundant slack resources will be conducive to the implementation of corporate CSR behavior, and more available resources will lead to some activity’s expenditure, which may aggravate the degree of information asymmetry between insiders and outsiders, thereby increasing the managers’ power and managerial discretion [56
]. Based on the above, we argue that although there is a complex relationship between managerial discretion and the resource availability of the organization, the degree of resource availability of the organization still positively promotes the degree of managerial discretion. Therefore, we propose that
The positive relationship between managerial humanistic attention and CSR is moderated by slack resources. Specifically, this relationship becomes stronger when a firm has greater slack resources.
2.2.3. Firm Size
Many researchers have commonly chosen firm size as parsimonious indicators of firm-level managerial discretion [49
]. The complex stakeholder structure of a bigger firm affords its TMT little managerial discretion [55
]. Top managers of bigger firms have to answer to a powerful governing board, as the resources in bigger firms are generally sufficient and the firms have more incentive to employ independent outside directors [58
]. Smaller firms, by the contrary, may have less incentive to employ independent outside directors so that managerial discretion is also enhanced in smaller firms by the dual managerial role they often play [55
]. Such top managers not only ratify and direct their firms’ strategies, but also participate more directly in their day-to-day implementation, a role played by operating managers in larger firms [57
]. This gives small-firm top managers more opportunities to be active in the discretionary domain and to directly influence their decisions and firms’ strategies. In China, especially, small firms were only established after the demise of central planning as outcomes of the business reform and privatization campaign [59
]. Because of the less favorable position, being privately owned, small firms have less access to various resources. While, they are less constrained by the government, top managers in small firms have more direct involvement in the promotion of many entrepreneurial initiatives. In this vein, we suggest that the influence of managerial humanistic attention on CSR will becomes weaker in bigger firms. Therefore, we propose that
The positive relationship between managerial humanistic attention and CSR is moderated by firm size. Specifically, this relationship becomes weaker when a firm grows bigger.