Influencing Corporate Social Responsibility Decision Making in a Major League Baseball Team: A Case Study

Influencing Corporate Social Responsibility Decision Making in a Major League Baseball Team: A Case Study

Author: 
Kelly L. Rhodes
Program of study: 
D.M.
Abstract: 
This qualitative, single, intrinsic case study explores the forces that influence the decision making behaviors of one Major League Baseball team regarding its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) efforts between 2007 and 2015 and the outcomes of those efforts. Three sources of data were utilized: annual community reports, newspaper articles, and five personal interviews with purposefully selected members of the organization whose work is related to CSR performance. The problem is that it was not known what forces influence CSR decisions within professional sports even though these efforts represent a large investment of the organization’s time and money. The outcomes of these efforts were also unknown. Three theories were used to provide a foundation for the study: Identity Theory, Stakeholder Theory, and Institutional Theory. Six resultant themes were realized. 1.) The influence of leadership plays a significant role in the formulation, direction, and implementation of CSR efforts. 2.) CSR is performed for both strategic and altruistic motives; the organization believes it is the right thing to do and it is good for business. 3.) Knowing the community, understanding its needs, and being connected to the people are imperative for performing charitable work that makes an impact. 4.) Both internal and external influences impact the direction of charitable initiatives. 5.) Measurement of CSR efforts is difficult to perform but is essential to successful and sustainable initiatives. 6.) On-the-field performance does not dictate the amount of CSR efforts, but it can influence the impact of charitable efforts.
Dedication: 
The project is dedicated to my husband, Jeff, for supporting my dream, to my children, Douglas, Gretta, Carson, and Evan, for being patient during this long journey, and to my parents, Tom and Peggy Diehl, for teaching me the value of hard work.
Acknowledgements: 
The project would not have been possible without assistance from my two chairpersons, Dr. Stephanie Hoffman, who believed in the project at the start and encouraged me to continue, and Dr. Kevin Bottomley, who stepped in at QRM and saw this through to the end. I am so grateful for their support. I would also like to acknowledge my committee members, Dr. Patrick Farabaugh and Dr. Sandra Lane for reading numerous drafts and providing valuable feedback. I would also like to acknowledge Kathryn Buonantony, my student work study, for all of her help and encouragement. Thank you all!