Corporate Motivations for Donating to the Police in Bulgaria
From 2005 to 2011, the Bulgarian police force collected donations exceeding $90 million from a host of individuals, corporations, foreign governments, persons undergoing criminal investigations, and convicts. After condemnation both domestically and internationally, the practice became completely illegal in 2013. Nevertheless, in 2015, the government lifted the donation prohibition, allowing foreign governments and international and state organizations to donate to the Interior Ministry. Differentiating between utilitarian and moral models of corporate social responsibility is important, since genuine donors create higher value through their prosocial deeds than self-interested ones. Given Bulgaria’s excessive spending on public order and the ambiguous nature of donations to public servants, we seek to understand the corporate motivations for donating to the police. To address this question, we draw upon theories of corporate philanthropy, social exchange, and entrepreneurial orientation and use unique face-to-face interview data from 2011 to 2013 with police officers and businesspeople. Our qualitative findings point to multifaceted drivers of philanthropy beyond those considered in the dominant strategic-instrumental perspective. We argue that donations to the police can be an expression of business executives’ altruistic values, a desire to forge strategic alliances, enhance status in social hierarchies, a form of political reconciliation, or a protection payment. Lastly, we present descriptive statistics of money donated to the Interior Ministry, discuss the potential socioeconomic consequences, and propose policies to reduce police reliance on private financing.