1.1. BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Recent corporate scandals and the increasingly international context within which modern businesses operate have raised important issues concerning the roles and responsibilities of companies. Pressures on companies to behave ethically have intensified and in consequence, firms face pressure to develop policies, standards and behaviours that demonstrate their sensitivity to stakeholder concerns. In consequence, corporate social responsibility (CSR), defined by the European Commission as “a concept whereby companies integrate social and environmental concerns in their business operations and in their interaction with their stakeholders on a voluntary basis” (European Commission, 2001) and in the academic literature as “actions that appear to further some social good, beyond the interest of the firm and that which is required by law” (McWilliams and Siegel (2001) has become a more salient aspect of corporate competitive contexts. In this climate, organised religion has sought to play a significant role in establishing and disseminating moral and ethical prescriptions that are consistent with religious doctrines and that offer practical guidance to those involved in business concerning ethical conduct. For example, the interfaith declaration on business ethics was developed to codify “the shared moral, ethical and spiritual values” of Christianity, Islam and Judaism in order to “draw up a number of principles that might serve as guidelines for international business behaviour” (Interfaith Declaration, 1993). More direct action has been taken by the Interfaith Centre on Corporate Responsibility, an organisation committed to using the “power of persuasion backed by economic pressure from consumers and investors to hold corporations accountable.” In this paper, we conduct an analysis of the relationship between individual religious affiliation and attitudes towards CSR that draws upon a large cross sectional database of over 17,000 individuals from 20 countries. We make two main contributions. First, we develop the empirical literature on the relationship between religious denomination and attitudes towards the corporate social responsibilities of businesses by encompassing a more diverse range of religions than has been previously analysed in the literature. In doing so, we are able to shed more light on the importance of religion and the diversity in religious beliefs in general, for individual expectations concerning CSR.