The Determinants of Foreign Giving

An Exploratory Investigation

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To date, there is ample evidence on the determinants of domestic charitable contributions made by US firms. However, to the best of our knowledge, no one has investigated the determinants of foreign charitable contributions made by US firms. Using the Socrates KLD database and the US M&A data for the 2004–2010 period, we find evidence that foreign giving by US manufacturing firms is linked to certain key variables. Specifically, we find evidence that variables found significant in the domestic giving literature (pre entry return on assets, size, debt to asset ratio, market to book ratio, and research and development expense as a function of sales) are also found significant for foreign giving. However, and notably, cultural distance and foreign sales percentage have been found to be important discriminators between manufacturing firms who give abroad and those who do not. It appears that high international business experience (proxied by the foreign sales ratio) and operations in culturally distant countries motivate foreign giving. Finally, subsample analysis involving developed and developing countries suggests that cultural distance matters for developing countries, but does not for the developed country subsample. Firm level profitability matters for developed countries, but not for developing countries. Future research may be expanded to include the dollar amounts of giving and a bigger sample size. Differences in foreign giving patterns between manufacturing and non-manufacturing firms, and by firms in countries other than the US, may also be explored.

– Padmanabhan, P., Cowan, A., Huang, C.-H., Wang, C.-H. (2013).

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