The Linkage of Corporate Philanthropy to Corporate Social Responsibility and the Social Embeddedness of Companies

In the large body of literature on CSR, corporate philanthropy only holds a small share. Due to scarcity of data, empirical research is – with a few exceptions – limited to US-based corporations and their philanthropic activities. This is the first research project that covers all three aspects of Corporate Philanthropy in Switzerland: Corporate Giving, Corporate Volunteering and Corporate Foundations. So far no comprehensive study was ever conducted on this subject with data from Swiss companies and their Corporate Philanthropy activities. The overarching aim of this project is to develop a better understanding of the interdependencies of CSR and corporate philanthropy. Especially to help understand, if and how corporate philanthropy activities create a win-win-situation for both business and society. The descriptive research aim is to conduct a first conclusive overview of the different forms of corporate philanthropy and their state of action in Switzerland. Additionally, a better understanding of the linkages between corporate philanthropy, CSR and firm profitability will be developed using the collected data on corporate philanthropy in Switzerland. The explorative research aim of the project is to detect rules and criteria to value the impact of corporate philanthropy on the company’s social embeddedness (as civil society actor). The findings of this research project will have a major effect on the theoretical debate on corporate philanthropy and corporate social behavior in general. By looking at the current debate on Corporate Philanthropy and taking Switzerland as a mini-laboratory, we lay the ground for a distinct theory of corporate philanthropy.

Supervisor: Georg von Schnurbein

Co-supervisor: Manfred Max Bergman


Theresa Gehringer has been working as a research assistant and PhD student at the Center for Philanthropy Studies since 2015. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration of the University of Bayreuth and a Master of Science in Sustainable Development of the University of Basel. Theresa is currently involved in several consulting and research projects within the interdisciplinary research agenda of the CEPS. She also supervises the Centers academic teaching and executive trainings. Her research focus is mainly on Corporate Philanthropy, CSR and NPO Sustainability. Theresa is a member of several professional affiliations such as ERNOP (European Research Network on Philanthropy) and ISTR (International Society for Third-Sector Research) and board member of the Association of Young Foundation Experts that brings together young professionals from the foundation sector in Switzerland.

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Theresa Gehringer
Center for Philanthropy Studies (CEPS)
Steinengraben 22
4051 Basel

Tel: +41 61 207 28 53