Edited by Alfredo De Massis and Nadine Kammerlander
Chapter 8: Religion and business families’ philanthropic practices
Family firm philanthropy is the voluntary donation of monetary or non-monetary resources by these enterprises for the betterment of society. Research suggests that while some business families engage in philanthropy with expectations of economic gains such as tax benefits, others are driven by non-economic motivators such as reputational or political influence gains. This chapter highlights another understudied set of intrinsic philanthropic triggers: a controlling family’s religious or spiritual beliefs. To understand the influence of such beliefs on philanthropy, the authors focus on the Indian context, for three reasons. First, India is a fast-growing economy dominated by family enterprises. Second, this subcontinent is home to one-sixth of the world’s population, characterized by peaceful co-existence of the world’s major religions and theologies. Third, the 2013 changes in corporate philanthropic laws provide an excellent opportunity to explore the effects of religious beliefs on philanthropic activities of business families. This research employs a comparative case study of two remarkable social ventures launched by business families that are located in geographically diverse regions of this subcontinent. As both these families follow India’s dominant religion, Hinduism, this study enables the authors to shed light on other factors that influence the focus and geographic scope of philanthropic activities pursued. While each venture varies in its developmental trajectory, the founder’s indelible influence is evident in both cases. Exciting research opportunities are revealed.
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