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A Framework for Understanding Corporate Social Responsibility Programs as a Continuum: An Exploratory Study



Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs are increasingly popular corporate marketing strategies. This paper argues that CSR programs can fall along a continuum between two endpoints: Institutionalized programs and Promotional programs. This classification is based on an exploratory study examining the variance of four responses from the consumer stakeholder group toward these two categories of CSR. Institutionalized CSR programs are argued to be most effective at increasing customer loyalty, enhancing attitude toward the company, and decreasing consumer skepticism. Promotional CSR programs are argued to be more effective at generating purchase intent. Ethical and managerial implications of these preliminary findings are discussed.
A Framework for Understanding
Corporate Social Responsibility
Programs as a Continuum:
An Exploratory Study
Julie Pirsch
Shruti Gupta
Stacy Landreth Grau
ABSTRACT. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
programs are increasingly popular corporate marketing
strategies. This paper argues that CSR programs can fall
along a continuum between two endpoints: Institution-
alized programs and Promotional programs. This classi-
fication is based on an exploratory study examining the
variance of four responses from the consumer stakeholder
group toward these two categories of CSR. Institution-
alized CSR programs are argued to be most effective at
increasing customer loyalty, enhancing attitude toward
the company, and decreasing consumer skepticism. Pro-
motional CSR programs are argued to be more effective
at generating purchase intent. Ethical and managerial
implications of these preliminary findings are discussed.
KEY WORDS: Corporate social responsibility, cause-
related marketing, customer loyalty, satisfaction, stake-
holder theory, skepticism
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs are
becoming increasingly popular elements of corporate
marketing strategies. Companies are under growing
pressure to embrace social responsibility, in part due
to emerging public standards for social performance
(e.g. the United Nations Global Compact), in part
due to the proliferation of independent evaluations
and rankings that make social performance more
transparent (e.g. Fortune’s Most Admired Compa-
nies), and in part due to the recent scandals associ-
ated with prominent companies (e.g. Enron,
Worldcom). CSR programs can provide a variety of
benefits for companies. CSR helps to attract and
retain high quality employees (Fombrun and Shan-
ley, 1990; Turban and Greening, 1997), generate a
positive corporate image (Smith and Stodghill,
1994), and enhance product evaluation via an overall
evaluation of the firm (Brown and Dacin, 1997).
CSR also acts as a buffer against, and may help a
company recover from, a market crisis.
However, the most forceful argument for CSR is
the positive link it has with a firm’s performance
(Ruf et al., 2001; Simpson and Kohers, 2002). At
the most basic level, CSR programs have been
shown to increase the customer’s willingness to
purchase the company’s products (Brown and
Dacin, 1997; Sen and Bhattacharya, 2001). In fact,
consumer purchase intent has been positively cor-
related with the degree to which the perceptions of a
company’s ethical behavior exceeded their expec-
tations (Creyer and Ross, 1997). More broadly,
consumers appear to provide greater support for
companies that are socially and environmentally
Julie Pirsch, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Marketing at
Villanova University. She researches in the areas of cause-
related marketing, corporate social responsibility, and new
product development.
Shruti Gupta, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of marketing at
The Pennsylvania State University at Abington, in
Abington, Pennsylvania. Her research interests lie in the area
of corporate social responsibility, cause-related marketing,
environmental consumerism, and social marketing issues.
Stacy Landreth Grau, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of
Marketing at the Texas Christian University. She researches
in the areas of cause-related marketing and social marketing
alliances, as well as advertising source effects.
Journal of Business Ethics (2007) 70:125–140 Springer 2006
DOI 10.1007/s10551-006-9100-y
responsible (Creyer and Ross, 1997; Ellen et al.,
2000; Sen and Bhattacharya, 2001), and have nega-
tive reactions to companies that are not (Barrett,
1996). The success of companies such as Ben and
Jerry’s provides support for the emergence of CSR
as a new paradigm for doing business (Donaldson
and Preston, 1995; Griffin and Mahon, 1997).
In order for CSR programs to accomplish these
goals, companies design their CSR programs in a
variety of ways. For example, Stonyfield Yogurt has
company-wide policies on human rights, supplier
diversity, and environmental responsibility, among a
variety of other programs (http://www.stonyfield- In contrast, Bombay Company, a fur-
niture retailer, adopts a more promotional approach
to CSR. Once a year, the company designs a teddy
bear that is sold annually at its retail stores, and do-
nates 10% of the proceeds from the sale of the bear
to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital (http:// For companies and
their managers, a dilemma arises as they are faced
with choosing the most appropriate type of CSR
programs to meet differing business goals: in the
short-term, generating increased product purchase,
and in the long-term, generating more indirect re-
sults such as positive consumer attitude toward the
company, improved brand perceptions, and in-
creased customer loyalty.
This paper seeks to provide a guide for managers
facing this ‘‘how to’’ challenge of organizing their
company’s CSR agenda. It is proposed that CSR
program configurations lie on a continuum with an
extreme CSR position at each endpoint and varying
levels of CSR commitment and strategy in between.
These responses are investigated from the perspective
of the consumer stakeholder group by examining the
two proposed endpoints of this continuum: Institu-
tionalized and Promotional CSR programs. Institu-
tionalized CSR programs are defined as providing a
comprehensive approach to CSR, attempting to
fulfill a company’s social obligations across all the
stakeholder groups, and touching all aspects of the
company. Institutional firms embrace CSR
throughout the organization, and generate policies
and programs for all stakeholders that support their
social position. It is argued that Institutional CSR
programs are most effective at increasing customer
loyalty, improving attitude toward the company, and
minimizing the level of consumer skepticism about
the company’s motivation for developing a CSR
program, rather than increasing immediate product
sales. At the other end of the spectrum, Promotional
programs lack this broader stakeholder approach to
corporate social responsibility, and instead are
defined as focusing on using CSR initiatives pri-
marily as a tool to drive product sales (through such
programs as cause-related marketing, for example).
Unlike Institutional programs that are designed to
build more long-term customer relationships,
Promotional programs are designed to generate
short-term effects such as increased immediate pur-
chase intent. The following sections will present a
brief literature review, research propositions, and
results from an exploratory study that provides
support for the classification of CSR into these two
different categories.
Literature review
CSR defined
In a seminal article, Carroll (1979, p. 500) pre-
sented corporate social responsibility as a construct
that ‘‘...encompasses the economic, legal, ethical,
and discretionary expectations that society has of
organizations at a given point in time.’’ In his defi-
nition, Carroll argued that these responsibilities are
not only performed for the firm’s sake but also for
the sake of society at large. This means that orga-
nizations by their very existence can be viewed as
entering into a social contract that obligates the
corporation to take the interests of society into
consideration when making decisions (Andreasen
and Drumwright, 2001).
The construct CSR has four intimately related
facets economic, legal, ethical and philanthropic
with organizations striving to achieve all four at all
times. Based on these components, a socially
responsible firm ‘‘should strive to make a profit,
obey the law, be ethical, and be a good corporate
citizen’’ (Carroll, 1991, p. 43). Conceptualization of
CSR (see Carroll, 1999 for a review) ranges from a
wide view of CSR ‘‘as actions that appear to further
some social good, beyond the interests of the firm
and that which is required by law’’ (McWilliams and
Siegel, 2001, p. 117) to one that is narrowly focused
on maximizing shareholder wealth (Goodpaster,
126 Julie Pirsch et al.
1991). These conceptual variations reflect different
degrees of responsibility ascribed to a firm beyond its
role as an economic institution (Hemphill, 1997). In
this paper, the wider societal perspective is adopted,
defining CSR as the company’s ‘‘status and activi-
ties’’ regarding its responsiveness to its perceived
societal obligations (Brown and Dacin, 1997, p. 68)
as they apply to all company stakeholders. Under this
definition, a company is obligated to take action to
‘‘protect and improve both the welfare of the society
as a whole and the interest of organizations’’ (Davis
and Blomstrom, 1975, p. 6).
Stakeholder theory and CSR
A compelling argument behind why firms are
motivated to invest in CSR programs comes from
the domain of stakeholder theory (Argandona, 1998;
Freeman, 1984; Harvey and Schaefer, 2001; Post,
2003). Stakeholder theory suggests that organiza-
tional survival and success is contingent on satisfying
both its economic (e.g. profit maximization) and
non-economic (e.g. corporate social performance)
objectives by meeting the needs of the company’s
various stakeholders. Early research in the area of
stakeholder management defines a stakeholder in an
organization as ‘‘any group or individual who can
affect or is affected by the achievement of the
organization’s objectives’’ (Freeman, 1984, p. 46).
Primary stakeholder groups consist of shareholders
and investors, employees, customers, suppliers,
public entities such as governments or other public
organizations that set laws and govern economic
commerce (Clarkson, 1995), and trade associations
and environmental groups (Donaldson and Preston,
The degree to which management considers each
stakeholder group is classified in the literature in
three different ways. The normative viewpoint
suggests that firms attend to the interests of all
stakeholder groups equally, not just customers or
stockholders (Clarkson, 1995; Donaldson and Pres-
ton, 1995; Jones and Wicks, 1999). This suggests
that when designing a CSR program, normative
companies should create a comprehensive, multi-
dimensional CSR program designed to appeal
equally to all stakeholders of the company. The
instrumental viewpoint argues that since economic
success is a key objective for companies, a firm
should place its strongest focus on improving eco-
nomic performance (Donaldson and Preston, 1995).
Instrumental companies would therefore tend to
emphasize the elements of CSR programs that
would directly improve economic performance,
sometimes even at the expense of other stakeholder
interests. Examples of this strategy might include
using cause-related marketing to generate additional
sales from customers, or encouraging suppliers to
minimize packing materials (so as to reduce disposal
costs for the firm). The descriptive viewpoint sug-
gests that the organization’s shareholders, their values
and relative influence, and the nature of the situation
all predict organizational behavior (Brenner and
Cochran, 1991; c.f. Jones and Wicks, 1999, p. 208).
Descriptive firms’ CSR efforts might therefore in-
clude making donations to causes meaningful to the
firm’s major investors.
Stakeholder theory and CSR activity have been
linked (Ullmann, 1985) by demonstrating that the
interrelationship between social disclosure and social
and economic performance is made up of three
dimensions: stakeholder power, the firm’s strategic
posture, and the company’s past and present eco-
nomic performance. This link reflects the general
stakeholder literature, which argues that firms make
decisions based on the intrinsic justice of stakeholder
claim on the firm (Jones, 1994, p. 100), the moral
legitimacy of the stakeholder’s claim, their power in
influencing the firm, the urgency of the stake-
holder’s issue (Mitchell et al., 1997), and the orga-
nization’s life cycle, since different stakeholders will
be more relevant at different times (Jawahar and
McLaughlin, 2001).
Each of the above dimensions in the framework
helps in predicting the level of corporate social
responsibility activity adopted by the firm. The first
dimension of stakeholder power states that the more
critical stakeholder resources are to the viability of
the firm, the greater the likelihood that the stake-
holder demands will be addressed. Thus, if a par-
ticular stakeholder group has significant power and
influence over firm management, managers may be
forced to align their CSR program with the CSR
values of that stakeholder group, leading to an
overemphasis of one stakeholder group over an-
other. The second dimension, strategic posture,
points to the nature of company response – active or
Corporate Social Responsibility Programs 127
passive – toward social issues. Therefore, a company
with an active strategic social posture will be more
involved in CSR activities than one with a passive
posture. The third dimension, the company’s past
and current economic performance, directly impacts
the firm’s ability to implement a CSR program. A
firm with better economic performance is therefore
more likely to develop and institute a CSR program
than one that has a lower level of economic per-
In summary, stakeholder theory suggests that
firms are motivated to broaden their objectives to
include other goals in addition to profit maximiza-
tion. Based on this theory, many companies embrace
a Corporate Social Responsibility program as a way
to promote socially responsible actions and policies,
and effectively respond to stakeholder demands
(Maignan and Farrell, 2004). Motivation for satis-
fying stakeholder demands stems from the fact that
addressing stakeholder needs can be correlated with a
firm’s survival, economic well-being, competitive
advantage, and the development of trust and loyalty
among its targeted customers (Mitchell et al., 1997).
While ample evidence exists supporting the idea
that companies that invest in CSR will achieve
positive benefits across all stakeholder groups, this
paper proposes that companies can maximize con-
sumer stakeholder response from CSR programs in
the marketplace by carefully identifying which cat-
egories of CSR either affect or are noticed by
consumers the most. By understanding these con-
nections, managers can adopt a specific category of
CSR program contingent on the desired response
from the consumer stakeholder group.
Definitions and research propositions
Institutionalized versus promotional CSR programs
Varying structures of CSR programs can be found
today in the marketplace. In the case of British
Petroleum (BP), a global energy supplier, the com-
pany has organized itself largely around the concept
of being a strong corporate citizen worldwide, and
provides an excellent example of a firm that has
institutionalized its commitment to corporate social
responsibility. This commitment is employed liber-
ally throughout company policies, and reflects the
company’s commitment to demonstrating social
responsibility across all stakeholder groups. For
example, BP conducts research on renewable en-
ergy, has a stated long-term goal of reduced emis-
sions for their products, and links up with
governments, local businesses and organizations and
non-governmental organizations to protect worker
rights and ensure lawful use of resources. BP also
supports local arts and culture, has built a diverse
employee base, remains committed to the health and
safety of employees, generates human rights safe-
guards, maintains a stated policy on business ethics,
and utilizes two independent external auditing firms
to monitor their environmental and social reporting
( In summary, BP pursues
CSR because ‘‘We believe that long-term, sustain-
able success is linked to being a responsible business:
setting the highest standards in our financial, envi-
ronmental and social performance and earning the
trust of our stakeholders.’’
In a contrasting example, the furniture retailer
Bombay Company adopts what this paper terms a
Promotional approach to CSR. Once a year, the
company designs a teddy bear that is sold annually at
its retail stores, and donates 10% of the proceeds
from the sale of the bear to St. Jude Children’s
Research Hospital (http://www.bombaycompa- This promotion is targeted to its consumer
stakeholder group (although some spillover effect
may occur for other groups such as employees who
may regard this promotion as a positive for their
company), and provides a marked contrast to BP’s
CSR strategy that attempts to have a CSR effort for
all stakeholders.
In order to operationalize these two differing
concepts playing out in the marketplace using
existing theory and practice, the KLD SOCRATES
Database of Corporate Social Responsibility (http:// was used. KLD SOCRATES con-
tains CSR profiles on 3,000 US corporations, and is
widely regarded as the most comprehensive corpo-
rate social responsibility database on the market to-
day. In order to evaluate a company’s CSR standing
(whether they are more or less socially responsible),
SOCRATES uses seven major categories (called
‘‘screens’’) for evaluation. These seven categories are
community involvement, corporate governance,
employee diversity, overall employee relations,
environmental policies, human rights positions, and
128 Julie Pirsch et al.
product evaluation. The SOCRATES CSR screens
are adopted as the basis for measuring the degree to
which companies take an Institutional or a more
Promotional approach to their CSR programs. It is
argued that a company with a fully Institutionalized
CSR program would have policies within each of
the seven major evaluation categories, thus address-
ing the social demands of all stakeholders. In con-
trast, companies that offer Promotional CSR
programs would address significantly fewer of the
CSR categories, choosing instead to focus on the
more short-term cause sponsorship programs such as
cause-related marketing initiatives. In this way, it is
envisioned that CSR options for companies operate
on a continuum, with Institutionalized CSR com-
panies at one end of the spectrum with organiza-
tional level policies to meet the needs of all
stakeholders, and Promotional CSR programs at the
other end, using short-term methods to generate
sales among the consumer stakeholder group.
Consumer responses to CSR
While the various elements of a CSR program are
targeted at different stakeholder groups, this paper
focuses specifically on the reactions of the consumer
group. Clearly, CSR programs are designed to
accomplish a variety of responses within the con-
sumer stakeholder group, ranging from improving
attitudes via corporate (Simon, 1995) and brand im-
age (Fombrun, 1996), and enhancing product eval-
uation (Brown and Dacin, 1997), to increasing the
customer’s willingness to purchase the company’s
products (Brown and Dacin, 1997; Sen and Bhat-
tacharya, 2001). It is recognized, too, that while
specific elements of a company’s CSR program may
be targeted primarily at non-consumer stakeholders
such as investors or employees, consumers make
evaluations of CSR programs more holistically. For
example, while employee diversity may not directly
affect the consumer of the company’s product, the
presence of this policy is likely to be regarded as a
positive in the consumer stakeholders’ eyes. Similarly,
while a corporate environmental policy may only
indirectly affect the consumer in the form of mar-
ginally cleaner air or water, its presence as a company
policy would be perceived by consumers as a positive,
enhancing their own view of the company’s image.
While consumer variables have been tested
independently in the past as outcomes to CSR, this
exploratory study tests whether four common CSR
results differ for consumers after the consumer is
exposed to the two different types of CSR programs:
customer loyalty, purchase intent, skepticism toward
the company’s motivation for generating a CSR
program, and attitude toward the company. Signif-
icant differences in these four responses will provide
support for the differentiation between Institutional
and Promotional CSR.
Customer loyalty
Research shows that CSR initiatives in various
forms become active channels for building cus-
tomer loyalty. For example, supporting a cause
(Miller, 2002), community involvement (S, 1997),
supporting women’s rights, and philanthropy
(Kroll, 1996) all have been shown to assist in
generating loyal customers. Customer loyalty has a
variety of definitions and motivations in literature
and practice. A managerial view of loyalty stems
from the benefit that the customer response has to
offer to the firm. Businesses are motivated to
generate customer loyalty primarily for economic
reasons: an increase in customer retention has been
shown to produce substantial increases in net
present value of profits (Reichheld and Sasser,
1990; Reichheld, 1996). In addition, customer
loyalty is instrumental in generating sustainable
competitive advantage (Kotler, 1984), and can lead
to cost savings, referrals, unaided brand awareness,
greater awareness of brand assets, and a reluctance
to defect (or a tendency to complain rather than
defect) (Duffy, 2003).
Theorists, on the other hand, have focused their
attention on a broader conception of the loyalty
construct. Definitions for customer loyalty in litera-
ture can be grouped into two categories: process and
psychological (Oliver, 1999). Process (Oliver, 1999)
or operational (Dick and Basu, 1994) definitions
focus on what consumers do to become loyal (Oliver,
1999), and is generally measured in terms of repeat
purchasing frequency or relative volume of same-
brand purchasing (see Jacoby and Chestnut, 1978 for
review; Tellis, 1988). Psychological (Oliver, 1999) or
theoretical (Dick and Basu, 1994) definitions focus
more on the deep rooted commitment or internal
Corporate Social Responsibility Programs 129
disposition on the part of the consumer to seek out
the same brand in repeat purchase situations (Day,
1969). This perspective combines both the attitudinal
and behavioral measures of loyalty (Jacoby and
Chestnut, 1978; Jacoby and Kyner, 1973) and is a
more holistic representation of the loyalty concept.
This study conceptualizes loyalty in terms of the
attitude toward the company and its resultant
patronage behavior, defining loyalty as:
‘‘a deeply held commitment to rebuy or repatronize a
preferred product/service consistently in the future,
thereby causing repetitive same-brand or same brand-set
purchasing, despite situational influences and marketing
efforts having the potential to cause switching behavior’’
(Oliver, 1999, p. 34).
It is argued that those firms that invest in creating and
implementing an Institutionalized CSR program
across more of the seven major CSR categories
(through such policies as employee diversity, support
of human rights issues, charitable giving, community
involvement, etc.) will be rewarded with higher
levels of customer loyalty. While some of these
initiatives may be directed at other stakeholders
rather than directly at the consumer him- or herself,
knowledge and awareness of the company’s com-
mitment toward all stakeholder groups will allow the
consumer to develop a more favorable evaluation of
the company through a spillover effect (Drumwright,
1996). In contrast, Promotional CSR programs are
primarily designed to capture attention at point of
purchase and generate product trial, focusing more
on driving sales through positive purchase intention
rather than on building relationships with its stake-
holders (cf. Miller, 2002). This leads to the following
research propositions:
Research Proposition 1: Institutional CSR pro-
grams will have a greater effect on customer loyalty
than Promotional CSR programs.
Research Proposition 2: Promotional CSR pro-
grams will have a greater effect on purchase intent than
Institutional CSR programs.
The consumer’s level of skepticism toward the
company’s motivation for developing the CSR
program is a third consumer response examined to
determine whether there are differences between
consumer perceptions of Institutional and Promo-
tional CSR programs. Skepticism has been defined
as a tendency toward disbelief (Obermiller and
Spangenberg, 2001), or the overall tendency to
question (Boush et al., 1993; Kantner and Mirvis,
1989). In the case of CSR programs, consumers are
often likely to express skepticism about a company’s
motivation for generating such a program, particu-
larly when the company publicizes their efforts
(Webb and Mohr, 1998). Research in the area of
cause-related marketing, a typical example of a
Promotional type of CSR program, demonstrates
that consumers can be skeptical of the reasons that
companies enter into cause-associated alliances
(Andreasan, 1986; Ross et al., 1990–1991; Varad-
arajan and Menon, 1988). Specifically, consumers
must make a judgment about whether cause-related
marketing programs are cause-beneficial or cause
exploitative (Andreasan, 1986; Ross et al., 1990–
1991; Varadarajan and Menon, 1988): is the goal to
increase sales revenue and market share, or to gen-
uinely support of the social cause at hand and the
overall welfare of society?
Results from a study by Ellen, Mohr and Webb
(2003) show that consumers do differentiate be-
tween the different reasons for participating in
cause-oriented marketing programs, and that these
motivations can result in differing consumer actions.
It can be argued that as firms show increasing
commitment to CSR by including more and more
categories of CSR programs (i.e. as they go beyond
promotional programs like CRM to include policies
across more of the seven KLD database categories),
consumers become less skeptical of the firm’s
motivations for participating in a CSR program.
This could be a result of the increasing demands of
employee time and corporate budget needed to
support more expansive CSR programs leading to a
more significant perception of corporate altruism
rather than exploitation as companies ‘‘put their
money where their mouth is.’’ Therefore, it is
proposed that:
Research Proposition 3: Consumer skepticism
about the company’s motivation for participating in a
CSR program will be higher for Promotional CSR
programs than for Institutional CSR programs.
130 Julie Pirsch et al.
Attitude toward the company
A fourth and final consumer response that is pro-
posed to differentiate between Institutional and
Promotional CSR is consumer attitude toward the
company. Attitudes have been defined as the sum-
mary evaluations of objects, issues or people based
on behavioral, cognitive and affective information or
experiences (Petty et al., 1991; 1997). Pursuing
CSR initiatives has been shown to lead to favorable
customer attitudes toward the sponsoring firm
(Brown and Dacin, 1997; Ross et al., 1990–1991;
1992), to attract and retain high quality employees
(Fombrun and Shanley, 1990; Turban and Greening,
1997), to generate a positive corporate image (Smith
and Stodghill, 1994), and to enhance product eval-
uation via an overall evaluation of the firm (Brown
and Dacin, 1997). CSR activities have also been
shown to increase the customer’s willingness to
purchase the company’s products (Brown and Da-
cin, 1997; Sen and Bhattacharya, 2001), demon-
strating that consumers appear to provide greater
support for companies that are socially and envi-
ronmentally responsible (Creyer and Ross, 1997;
Ellen et al., 2000; Sen and Bhattacharya, 2001), and
have negative reactions to companies that are not
(Barrett, 1996). It is therefore argued that Institu-
tional CSR, with its cross-sectional appeal across a
variety of CSR categories, will contribute to a sig-
nificantly more favorable attitude towards the
sponsoring company than a Promotional perspec-
tive, where the focus is short-term and narrow in
view. It is proposed that:
Research Proposition 4: Consumer attitude
toward the company will be more positive for
companies with Institutional CSR programs
than for companies with Promotional CSR
Results and discussion
In order to test the above research propositions, an
exploratory on-line survey was administered to 179
subjects. Subjects had a mean age of 29, and an
average of 15.35 years of primary and secondary
education. A total of 87 (48.6%) were males, and 92
(51.4%) were females. Subjects were volunteers
randomly recruited for participation from three
universities and from the general public. No
incentives were provided to the subjects for partic-
An on-line survey was used for data collection for
a variety of reasons. On-line surveys are seen as an
effective way of reaching a large percentage of the
population: approximately 70% of US adults have
access to the internet at home or at work, and among
people aged 18–54, home internet penetration is
close to 80% (
line.asp, 2005). Additionally, e-mail or internet
surveys tend to provide more detailed and compre-
hensive information than traditional mail surveys,
particularly for open-ended questions (Schaefer and
Dillman, 1998), provide speedier responses (Ilieva
et al., 2002; McDonald and Adam, 2003), are less
costly to administer (Ilieva et al., 2002; McDonald
and Adam, 2003), and lead to more accurate coding
of responses (Lockett and Blackman, 2004). How-
ever, internet panels also may be limited by poor
response rates (Kent and Lee, 1999; McDonald and
Adam, 2003) and unrepresentative samples (Kent
and Lee, 1999), with samples consisting of younger
audiences who come from upper- to middle-class
populations (Frost et al., 1999; McDonald and
Adam, 2003), and who may be more technologically
sophisticated than the population at large (Weible
and Wallace, 1998). Therefore, interpretation of the
results of this exploratory study must be done in
consideration of the possible biases intrinsic in this
type of data collection.
Each subject read two scenarios (Promotional and
Institutional CSR programs) and then answered
both open-ended and closed-ended questions
assessing their opinion of the scenarios. Existing
scales were used to measure the dependent variables
including loyalty and repurchase intentions
(Bettencourt, 1997; Hellier et al., 2003; Hem and
Iversen, 2003; McAlexander et al., 2003; Youjae
and Suna, 2004), skepticism toward the company’s
motivation (Ellen et al., 2003), and attitude toward
the company (Moore et al., 1995). Purchase intent
was measured by asking consumers their likelihood
of purchasing the company’s products. All variables
were measured using the one to seven Likert scale;
the anchor points of the scales are noted below with
the reported means for each variable.
Corporate Social Responsibility Programs 131
Customer responses
Results from the primary testing questions showed a
significant difference in the level of customer loyalty
toward the Institutional CSR firm (M = 4.626,
1 = not very loyal, 7 = very loyal) versus the Pro-
motional CSR firm (M = 3.747, t = 5.642,
df = 356, p-value = 0.000), with customers feeling
more loyal toward the Institutional firm. These re-
sults support Research Proposition 1. While there
was a significant difference between the effects of
Institutional (M = 5.518, 1 = low intent to pur-
chase, 7 = high intent to purchase) and Promotional
(M = 4.812) CSR programs on Purchase Intent,
Research Proposition 2 was not supported. A posi-
tive t-test result showed that Institutional CSR
programs in fact had a greater impact on purchase
intent than Promotional CSR programs (t = 5.761,
df = 356, p-value = 0.000).
Analysis of the results for Research Proposition 3
examining the effect of Institutional versus Promo-
tional CSR programs on skepticism toward the
company’s motivation for participating in a CSR
program showed positive results. Consumers were
more skeptical of the company’s motivations under
the Promotional CSR condition (M = 3.737,
1 = very skeptical, 7 = not very skeptical) than
under the Institutional CSR program (M = 4.499,
t-test = 8.521, df = 356, p-value = 0.000), sup-
porting Research Proposition 3. Results for
Research Proposition 4 showed that Institutional CSR
programs generated more positive attitudes toward
the company (M = 6.216, 1 = negative attitude
toward the company, 7 = positive attitude toward
the company) than Promotional CSR programs
(M = 5.315, t = 7.956, df = 356, p-value = 0.000),
supporting this final Research Proposition. See
Table I for a summary of these results.
Finally, respondents were asked to assign a letter
grade to each of the two companies based on their
CSR programs. These grades ranged from A to D,
and were subsequently converted into a numerical
scale (A = 4, D = 1). Results showed a significant
difference between the grades received by the
Institutional versus the Promotional CSR companies
(F(1,356) = 108.963, p-value = 0.000), with Insti-
tutional CSR earning a higher grade equating to an
A(M = 3.58), and the Promotional CSR company
earning a grade equating to a C+ (M = 2.77, t-va-
lue = 10.439, df = 356, p-value = 0.000).
After grading the two companies on their CSR
programs, respondents were then asked in an open-
ended format why they had chosen to grade the two
programs as they did. These consumer responses
provided interesting insight into the reasoning con-
sumers used when evaluating these contrasting CSR
programs. Responses were categorized and coded
based on the primary reason for the grade. For all
open-ended questions, two coders were used, and
any differences were resolved through discussion.
For the Institutional CSR company, respondents
generally offered significant praise, as they perceived
the company to be making a positive difference in
the community (see Appendix A for the Institutional
CSR company description used in the survey).
Respondents also noted the diversity and compre-
hensiveness of the Institutional program as well as
the positive moral stance taken by the company;
these comments signal the effectiveness of a wide
variety of CSR tactics in reaching consumers. A
summary of the largest categories of responses
showed that 24% of respondents believed the
Summary of Results
Variable Mean
p-value Hypothesis
Loyalty 4.626 3.747 5.642, 356 0.000 RP1: Supported
Purchase Intent 5.518 4.812 5.761, 356 0.000 RP2: Not Supported
Skepticism 4.499 3.737 8.521, 356 0.000 RP3: Supported
Attitude Toward the Company 6.216 5.315 7.956, 356 0.000 RP4: Supported
Letter Grade for Company (4.0 = A) 3.580 2.770 10.439, 356 0.000
132 Julie Pirsch et al.
Institutional CSR company demonstrated a genuine
interest in making a difference in the local com-
munity through their CSR policies. Respondents
indicated that this company ‘‘truly cares about the
things they are advocates for,’’ is ‘‘genuine,’’ and
‘‘really makes a difference to give back to the local
community.’’ Other respondents noted that since ‘‘it
is the ethical obligation of companies to do what
they can to give back to the community that they
serve,’’ the Institutional CSR company ‘‘take[s]
every opportunity they have to use their product to
benefit society, not just themselves.’’ Other typical
responses included:
‘‘I see no signs of [the Institutional CSR company]
attempting to take advantage of their consumers
through these CSR initiatives, instead, I am confident
in believing that this company was built with the needs
of its stakeholders in mind from the beginning.’’
‘‘I feel that the company truly cares about the things
they are advocates for....I do not feel that they feel
morally or socially obligated to operate in the ways
that they do.’
‘‘I think that many of [the Institutional CSR com-
pany’s] programs show that it is trying to improve its
community its direct and local community by its
actions in ways that are visible to and require com-
mitment by its employees and management. This re-
quires some effort, and is impressive to me. Even more
impressive is the fact that some of [the Institutional
CSR company’s] actions may be counterproductive in
terms of profits.’
Another 23.5% evaluated the Institutional CSR
program highly because it was diverse, compre-
hensive, and went beyond their expectations of
what a company needed to do to be socially
responsible. Respondents stated the Institutional
CSR company ‘‘demonstrated a commitment to
social responsibility in all aspects of their business,’’
making their effort seem more ‘‘genuine,’’ and that
they went ‘‘beyond the industry norm in terms of
defining their own level of social responsibility.’’
Other examples of comments expressing this view-
point include:
‘‘It appears this company goes above and beyond in its
corporate responsibility and awareness. They take a
proactive stance often at significant risk to the bottom
line to stand for their causes.’’
‘‘[The Institutional CSR company] received an A
because their program to reach out and truly help the
community is efficient, and comprehensive. They take
into account all forms of their business from products
to employees to surrounding community.’’
‘‘They have touched on nearly every major moral
obligation that I feel companies should be pursuing
and I give my business to those companies who show
true effort rather than companies who throw a phil-
anthropical [sic] team together with a limited, capped
A final 14.5% of respondents stated that the
Institutional CSR company demonstrated a moral
responsibility and social consciousness that was
admirable. The Institutional CSR company was
described as ‘‘thorough with their efforts to make the
world a better place,’’ and that management has
chosen ‘‘to run this company this way out of beliefs
not out of social obligation.’’ Several others com-
mented that the Institutional CSR company was
‘‘doing it [pursuing CSR] out of the goodness of
their own hearts, rather than to promote them-
selves.’’ These respondents noted:
‘‘They thought about their company on several levels
[in order] to embrace morally and socially responsible
actions in their business.’’
‘‘I strongly believe that it is the ethical obligation of
companies to do what they can to give back to the
community that they serve. [The Institutional CSR
company] seems to be genuinely interested in doing
this because they give back in a variety of ways (that
generally aren’t even expected of them by society.)’’
‘‘I feel that this company was truly concerned with the
cause they are involved in and started it to support the
people who are being helped by their cause...Their
CSR program could potentially hurt business,
esp[ecially] with customers who are spending savvy,
and look for a bargain. Since their CSR program could
hurt them, I feel that it is a true cause.’’
The Promotional CSR program consumer re-
sponses produced significantly different results (see
Appendix B for the Promotional CSR company
description used in the survey). A total of 19% of
respondents actually favored this CSR program
over the other, but specifically cited the relevance
of the cause selected (breast cancer) to them as
Corporate Social Responsibility Programs 133
individuals, or as women. A total of 10% of the
respondents stated that this Promotional CSR
program was good, but the company could do
more to support their CSR position. These
respondents stated that the Promotional CSR
company is ‘‘not dedicating a great deal of time or
energy to actually contributing a lot of portion of
their assets or resources,’’ and that while it was a
good program, it was ‘‘not as comprehensive...[It
was] One dimensional.’’ And, while 7% stated they
thought the company was overall very socially
responsible, 41% of respondents expressed skepti-
cism about the company’s motivation for creating
this Promotional CSR program. Respondents no-
ted, that ‘‘while the company is making an effort in
social responsibility...the programs seem to be
geared to help them make a profit (increase sales),’’
and the company ‘‘doesn’t necessarily believe in
their cause....It seems they are more interested in
making a profit.’’ Other typical statements
expressing skepticism include:
‘‘The Company seems to be doing the bare minimum.
Because of this I don’t feel they are doing this because
they genuinely care about the cause. They risk very
little of their own capital.’’
‘‘These types of things [Promotional CSR] are more
like an ad campaign versus truly dedicating the com-
pany to an overall productive policy in regards to the
product, community and company itself.’’
‘‘I think [the Promotional CSR company’s] program is
not broad enough. They should become more in-
volved in the community and the environment espe-
cially considering that they make a lot more products
than just ice cream. It seems to me that they follow the
CSR program because they feel they have to.’’
The statistical and open-ended results from this
exploratory study point to some interesting consid-
erations for marketers regarding Corporate Social
Responsibility programs, and the effects of these
programs on consumer perceptions. Both the sta-
tistical and open-ended results suggest that con-
sumers do in fact perceive Institutional and
Promotional CSR programs differently. Respon-
dents from this study indicated that Institutional
CSR programs have a greater effect on consumer
loyalty, intention to purchase, consumer skepticism
of the company’s motivation for generating a CSR
program, and on attitude toward the company than
do Promotional CSR programs. This suggests that
the longer-term, more comprehensive approach to
CSR, with its target of a variety of the company’s
stakeholders, affects consumers more powerfully,
and supports Drumwright’s (1996) assertion that the
positive effects of particular elements of CSR, while
targeted at one stakeholder group, can spill over and
influence other stakeholder groups.
For managers, these preliminary findings suggest
that taking a strategic position beyond generating
profits can not only help to make important con-
nections with consumers, but can also fulfill the
firm’s moral and social obligations, particularly for
marketing oriented companies (firms that focus pri-
marily on customer’s needs, elevating the customer
above other stakeholders in importance (Ferrell,
2004)). According to Kotler and Levy (1969), while
marketing in general is widely perceived as the pro-
cess of selling, influencing and persuading the end
user to purchase a product, it also should serve and
satisfy the human needs of its customers and all of its
other internal and external publics (see also Kotler,
1972). Institutional CSR programs can therefore
help to support the altruistic needs of its internal and
external customers, and fulfill the mission of ‘‘[tying
the company’s] economic activity to a higher social
purpose’’ (Kotler and Levy, 1969, p. 15).
Cragg (2002) extends the concept of marketing
going beyond solely economic motivations by
arguing that firms actually have an obligation to take
a more comprehensive approach to the ethical and
moral interactions with all stakeholders. According
to Cragg, firms exist because the communities in
which they operate set up the necessary legal struc-
tures to protect the firm. Therefore, the firm has a
‘‘social contract’’ that obligates it and its managers to
treat all stakeholders ethically and fairly in return for
establishing and maintaining this legal structure.
Institutional CSR programs, with their compre-
hensive approach to social responsibility, can there-
fore help firms meet their obligations to all
stakeholders, and fulfill the social contract with all of
the company’s publics.
This position is also in keeping with the concept
that there is now a marketplace trend toward a more
comprehensive approach to the ethical and moral
issues facing firms today. Rodgers and Gago (2004)
present the ‘‘ethics of care’’ philosophy, and state that
134 Julie Pirsch et al.
this is an increasingly popular element of strategic
management decisions. In contrast to earlier strat-
egies where companies function under ‘‘psycho-
logical egoism’’ and exist only to maximize
shareholder wealth, or under the relativist position
where companies do only as much as their com-
petitors, the ethics of care strategy seeks to build
solidarity among all stakeholders in the organiza-
tion. An institutional CSR program, therefore,
with its comprehensive approach addressing moral
and ethical issues affecting all stakeholders, supports
this trend in the marketplace. Based on the open-
ended responses from this exploratory study, this
strategy is effective in reaching the consumer
stakeholder group and generating loyalty, purchase
intent and positive attitude toward the firm, while
minimizing skepticism.
Another possible explanation for the strong sup-
port shown for the institutional approach to CSR
could come from Social Identity Theory, which
states that individuals derive their self-image from
the social categories to which they perceives them-
selves as belonging (Hogg and Abrams, 1988; Tajfel,
1978, p. 16; Tajfel and Turner, 1985). These social
categories or groups are formed based on the pro-
totypical characteristics of their members (Ashforth
and Mael, 1989; Turner, 1985); individuals join a
group is based on the emotional and value signifi-
cance of the group to themselves (Tajfel, 1972;
Turner, 1975). When it comes to purchasing
products, consumers have been shown to be more
likely to ‘‘join’’ a company (through purchase, for
example), when the company’s identity overlaps
with their own (Ashforth and Mael, 1989) and are
more willing to reject those whose identities and
ideals are in conflict with their own. The ‘‘values’’
and ‘‘morals’’ of companies adopting a comprehen-
sive, Institutionalized CSR program may therefore
seem more attractive to consumers than companies
who adopt a more limited Promotional CSR ap-
proach, leading to increased purchase and increased
identification with the overall social position of the
company. Mangers must consider, however, that
while many consumers will be attracted to a com-
prehensive CSR program, others may be turned off
by it, particularly if the moral or social position is in
direct contrast with the consumer’s own. Careful
market research is needed to ensure that there is a
match between the elements of the company’s CSR
program and the general beliefs and positions of its
key customer groups.
Financial and performance factors can also drive
firms toward more comprehensive, Institutional
CSR programs. Specifically, the social and ethical
position taken by a company through their CSR
program can help to differentiate one firm from
other firms in the marketplace, and as demonstrated
through these findings, lead to increased purchase of
the firm’s products. Based on the preliminary results
found in this study, not only do consumers seem to
notice the comprehensiveness of the CSR program
presented by companies, and reward those compa-
nies that make an effort to holistically support their
social positions, but responses to the open-ended
questions demonstrate that many consumers are
judging the companies relative to each other. This
indicates that companies must be increasingly con-
scious of competitors ‘‘raising the CSR bar’’ within a
product category in order to minimize a negative
comparison, and may benefit financially from
establishing a more comprehensive CSR program,
particularly when competing in a market where
other firms use more promotional CSR tactics.
It is important to say that while the results for
Institutional CSR programs were overwhelmingly
positive, Promotional CSR programs are not without
merit. While they produced weaker consumer re-
sponses than Institutional CSR programs, Promo-
tional CSR responses were still positive (loyalty
M = 3.747, purchase intent M = 4.812, and attitude
toward the company M = 5.315, where 7 = positive
and 1 = negative). This indicates that consumers do
place value on even the most basic forms of CSR, and
that companies can benefit from these programs.
However, the most noticeable difference in Pro-
motional CSR program results came from the level
of consumer skepticism expressed about the com-
pany’s motivation for developing a CSR program.
Respondents were significantly more suspicious of
the company’s motivations under the Promotional
CSR scenario, with the numerical differences fur-
ther supported through the open-ended responses.
Recognizing that consumers are skeptical about why
companies develop CSR programs, and under-
standing which type of CSR program generates the
most skepticism among consumers will assist man-
agers in combating this effect among target cus-
tomers. Recognizing that consumer CSR skepticism
Corporate Social Responsibility Programs 135
exists will also help managers develop effective
Promotional campaigns to support their CSR pro-
grams that do not conflict with consumer percep-
tions about ‘‘proper’’ company actions.
Limitations and future research directions
The preliminary categorization of CSR based on
variance in customer response offered in this paper
presents several opportunities for future research.
One key contribution of the paper is the suggestion
that Institutional CSR programs are directed at
creating and maintaining customer loyalty. As indi-
cated by Dick and Basu (1994), loyalty construction
follows an attitude-based framework with a set of
cognitive, affective and conative antecedents.
Extending this framework, Oliver (1997, p. 35)
argues, ‘‘...consumers can become Ôloyal’ at each
attitudinal phase relating to different elements of the
attitude development structure.’’ Future research
should explore whether Institutional or Promotional
CSR programs are more effective in generating one
of these specific types of loyalty.
Additionally, there is an ongoing consensus in
marketing literature regarding the close relationship
between customer satisfaction and loyalty. However,
as argued by Oliver (1999), although loyal customers
tend to be satisfied, satisfaction does not always lead
to loyalty. Instead, the best way to conceptualize this
relationship is to view satisfaction as a factor that,
along with other significant factors such as personal
determination and social support, transforms over
time into loyalty. In the absence of these other
factors, though, satisfaction can continue to exist in a
dormant state without transforming into loyalty.
Further justification for the proposed CSR catego-
rization can be generated by investigating the
relationship between satisfaction and loyalty within
the domain of corporate social responsibility. Future
research could also explore the mediating role of
satisfaction and the contribution of factors such as
personal determination and social support (Oliver,
1999) in the relationship between CSR and
customer loyalty.
Finally, although this paper focuses on generating
support for the two different CSR categories by
focusing on the responses within the consumer
stakeholder group, future research should investigate
the impact of Promotional and Institutional CSR
programs across all other salient stakeholder groups.
Research by Drumwright (1996) shows that social
forms of advertising primarily targeted toward the
consumers are also noticed by the employees of the
firm, influencing employee morale, motivation and
performance. Future research should investigate the
perceptions of other stakeholder groups like inves-
tors, suppliers and employees towards the firm’s
Promotional and Institutional CSR programs, and
could examine the relationship between the different
stakeholder responses. Such research would hold
tremendous managerial relevance by producing
substantial justification for investment in building a
company’s CSR portfolio.
Despite the contributions of this paper, there are
several limitations to this study. First, this was an
exploratory study, designed to provide preliminary
assessment of the validity of two-tiered classification
of CSR. The number of subjects was limited, and the
preliminary research propositions relatively simple.
Second, this study was a within subjects design rather
than a between subjects design. Exposing subjects to
both CSR scenarios may have caused subjects to
compare the manipulations to one another, and this
may have created a contrast bias. This limitation of-
fers a possible explanation for the lack of support for
Research Proposition 2. It is possible that although
Promotional CSR may in fact stimulate a higher
purchase intention at point of purchase than an
Institutionalized program, in this study the within
subjects design allowed respondents to compare these
two programs to one another. This may have caused
respondents to rate Institutional CSR programs
higher on purchase intent simply because the
company description offered a much more extensive
CSR picture than the Promotional CSR company
description. Future projects will use a between sub-
jects design in order to eliminate this bias. Finally, the
difference in scenario detail, nature of causes sup-
ported in the two scenarios with the promotional
CSR program focusing entirely on women’s health
issue and the use of convenience sample might be
have contributed to some study bias.
In summary, this paper contributes to the domain
of corporate social responsibility in a variety of ways.
First, it provides empirical evidence to justify the
proposed view of CSR as consisting of two distinct
categories anchoring a continuum: Institutional and
136 Julie Pirsch et al.
Promotional. Additionally, the strong support
shown for the Institutional category reasserts the
belief that CSR initiatives designed to and effective
in addressing not only the targeted stakeholder group
such as employees, investors, and suppliers, but also
how the effects of these programs spill over to affect
other stakeholder constituencies (like consumers).
Consumers do not always have their ‘‘consumer
hat’’ on they are also employees, investors, advo-
cates and community members. Therefore, it is
important to recognize that CSR programs have
multiple audiences both within and outside of the
firm, and companies seeking to maximize the ben-
efits of their CSR initiatives need to increasingly
communicate their efforts across all stakeholder
groups. Finally, this research demonstrates that
consumers can be skeptical about the company’s
motivation for developing a CSR program. The
more ‘‘institutionalized’’ the program, the more the
consumer seems to trust in the altruistic rather than
the profit oriented motivations of the firm. CSR is a
growing strategic tool gaining increased respect in
the marketplace as an effective marketing method.
Exploring the nuances of these types of programs
will assist managers and researchers alike in identi-
fying and maximizing its effectiveness.
Institutional CSR company description
Company R started in 1983 as a project of the Rural
Education Center (a nonprofit agency) to help
revitalize the struggling New England dairy industry
and save the fast disappearing family farms.
Over the 20 years, this company has defined itself
around its socially responsible agenda in the fol-
lowing way:
By using all natural organic ingredients (pro-
duced without the use of antibiotics, pesti-
cides and fertilizers), no preservatives or
artificial flavors or sweeteners.
Buying milk only from local family farmers
rather than national dairy suppliers, and re-
quires these farmers to use no antibiotics,
growth hormones, pesticides or fertilizers.
Giving 10% of their profits to environmental
causes, and has recycles all possible waste from
manufacturing, including water and heat, and
has decreased plant emissions by over 50%.
Reducing waste by:
switching to a lighter-weight plastic cup
replacing the plastic lid with a foil seal
giving the yogurt waste (in the manufactur-
ing process) to local pig farmers to be used
as hog feed instead of disposing it in a land-
fill or incinerator.
Building a workforce that reflects the local
community by hiring a multi-ethnic group
of workers and seeking out people from
underrepresented segments of the population
when hiring.
Reviewing their suppliers for fair labor prac-
tices, make sure suppliers offer a living wage
to employees, and require basic health care
services be provided.
Promotional CSR company description
Company W is part of a larger food products
corporation that makes other products besides
yogurt like breakfast cereal, snack foods, prepared
meals, baked foods etc. The company’s CSR activ-
ities include:
Supporting Women’s Breast Cancer Cure by
running a 4 month promotion every year
called ‘‘More Lids for a Better Life.’’ This
program has been offered for the past
2 years. For every yogurt cup lid that is re-
turned to the company by the user, a
10 cent donation is made to a national Breast
Cancer Foundation.
Providing information on women’s wellness
breast cancer, heart health, osteoporosis
prevention and fitness on its website.
The authors would like to thank MSI International, a
full service marketing intelligence firm based near
Corporate Social Responsibility Programs 137
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Julie Pirsch
Department of Marketing,
Villanova University,
800 Lancaster Avenue, Villanova, PA, 19085,
Shruti Gupta
The Pennsylvania State University,
Abington, PA, 19001,
Stacy Landreth Grau
Texas Christian University,
Ft. Worth, TX, 76129,
140 Julie Pirsch et al.
... Conceptual paper 10 Carroll (1979), Wartick and Cochran (1985), Lantos (2001), Matten and Moon (2008), Basu and Palazzo (2008), Halme andLaurila (2009), Porter andKramer (2011), Dowling and Moran (2012), Aguinis and Glavas (2013), Rangan et al. (2015) Empiricalquantitative study 91 Creyer and Ross (1996), Russo andFouts (1997), Weaver et al. (1999), Greening and Turban (2000), Luce et al. (2001), Maignan (2002), Mizerski et al. (2002), Backhaus et al. (2002), Cui et al. (2003), Dean (2003), Menon and Kahn (2003), Auger et al. (2003), Peterson (2004), David et al. (2005), Mohr and Webb (2005), Ricks (2005), Oppewal et al. (2006), Anselmsson and Johansson (2007), Phau and Ong (2007), Pirsch et al. (2007), Collins et al. (2007), Du et al. (2007), Golob et al. (2008), Megicks et al. (2008), Turker (2008), Wang (2008), Auger et al. (2008), Bower andGrau (2009), Chang et al. (2009), Arli and Lasmono (2010), Liu et al. (2010), Chomvilailuk and Butcher (2010), Hietbrink et al. (2010), Russell and Russell (2011), Choi and Ng (2011), Lii et al. (2011), Tuan (2012a, Lii and Lee (2012), Tuan (2012b), Robinson et al. (2012), Westberg and Pope (2014), Jeong et al. (2013), Liu et al. (2014), Wang and Berens (2014), Park et al. (2014), Schons and Steinmeier (2015), Andreu et al. (2015), Perez and Bosque (2015), Pino et al. (2015), Bolton and Mattila (2015), Magistris et al. (2015), Chen and Huang (2016) Hamby (2016) considered the differential impact of CRM vis-à-vis buy-one-give-one offers for multiple product categories. ...
... The how-based classifications were used for both business CSR and product brand CSR. Several how-based business CSR classes were extensively covered, like philanthropy, corporate responsibility integration, corporate responsibility innovation, improving operational effectiveness, institutionalized CSR, promotional CSR and transforming the business model (Halme & Laurila, 2009;Pirsch et al., 2007;Rangan et al., 2015). The how-based product brand CSR types involved a vast range of mechanisms, including cause promotion, sponsorship, social marketing, sponsorship linked marketing, CRM, cause-related event marketing, cause-related experiential marketing T A B L E 4 CSR activity level and impact assessment level across the resources CSR activity level and impact assessment level ...
... Pirsch et al. (2007),Halme and Laurila(2009), Peloza and Shang (2011), Rangan et al. (2015), Chen et al. ...
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Over the past few decades, scholars have outlined several corporate social responsibility (CSR) classifications to analyse the wide range of brand CSR initiatives. This has resulted in independent and fragmented research that is mostly not comparable due to the focus on different CSR types. Previous literature reviews have analysed the overall CSR domain or focused on specific brand CSR activities, like cause‐related marketing. A comprehensive review of CSR classifications is not available to the best of the authors’ knowledge. This article synthesises the literature on CSR classification and proposes a holistic brand CSR mechanism classification schema. The study systematically reviews the CSR classifications outlined in 104 academic resources published between 1979 and 2021. These resources include 103 articles (across 47 ABDC listed journals) and one book. The review utilises the 5W1H – Who, Why, What, When, Where, and How – analytical framework to reveal the underlying rationale of different CSR classifications. The 5W1H analysis indicates that the majority of CSR classifications are from the overall business perspective rather than the product brand perspective. It also suggests the importance of the CSR delivery mechanism, i.e., how CSR is delivered. The review finds a lack of conceptual basis in the extant brand CSR mechanism classifications and a near absence of CSR co‐creation options – an essential emerging domain in brand CSR. To address these challenges, we propose a conceptually grounded classification schema for brand CSR mechanisms with 10 classes to capture the feasible options holistically and parsimoniously. We describe the proposed classes and sub‐classes, provide real‐life illustrations, and assess the proposed classification’s robustness. The implications of this study for theory, practice, and consumers are discussed. Leveraging the proposed classification, we identify several avenues for further research.
... Trust is seen as a central factor that contributes to the success of relationship marketing, mainly because it has the ability to indirectly elicit cooperative behaviour from consumers [49,51]. Building trust relationships with the consumer can constitute a competitive advantage for the company [58]. ...
... Customer loyalty can be defined as a process (repeat purchasing), and can also be defined from a psychological point of view (commitment and attitude) [58]. Therefore, customer loyalty includes both the decision to repurchase a product and the moral belief about that respective product [8]. ...
... In another study [56], it was found that CSR initiatives can be used as a competitive weapon by challenger companies against market leaders, mainly based on trust-based relationships, and they can use CSR as a competitive advantage in changing the customers' loyal status towards the market leader. So, CSR initiatives in their different forms become important channels to build customer loyalty [58]. In the present study, we assume the positive influences of brand trust and competitive advantage (individually and together) on customer loyalty, and we hypothesize: ...
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Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a trend that manifests on a global level. The positive effects of CSR initiatives depend on the reaction of stakeholders, among which customers represent an important category. The purpose of this paper was to analyse the impact that CSR initiatives of cosmetics companies have on customer behaviour in both the short-term (buying intention) and the long-term (client loyalty) in the case of electronic commerce. Starting from the existing literature, the conceptual model proposed different dimensions of CSR as influencers (legal and ethical, philanthropic and community services, respect for environment, respect for consumers), and as mediators, which were considered as the brand trust and the competitive advantage of the company. The research method used was quantitative with the empirical data being collected from 1265 actual and potential consumers of cosmetic products. The hypotheses were tested using the partial least squares structural equation modelling (PLS-SEM). The main findings illustrated positive relationships between CSR and both buying intention and client loyalty, as the two facets of consumer behaviour. The interpretation is that CSR activities can increase both the consumer intentions to buy cosmetics products provided by CSR-involved companies, and increase the long-term customer loyalty for these companies. The research also provided evidence for a strong mediation effect of brand trust for both sides of customer behaviour. This illustrates that when brand trust is higher the effect of CSR initiatives on customer behaviour increases. The paper includes theoretical and practical contributions associated to the results of the research.
... Today, businesses face an ever-expanding obligation, they are not only satisfying their employees and customers, but also address wider social, economic and environmental concerns. Businesses are no longer just corporates with economic purposes, they have to be active for on a wide variety of issues such as the development of society, sustainability, economy, environment, human rights (Pirsch, Gupta & Grau, 2007). In the light of these, this study concentrates on employees' perceptions of corporate social responsibility. ...
... Ethical and philanthropic responsibilities are practices that are not mandatory for businesses to fulfill but are expected from businesses by society. Businesses carry out the activities they perform within these dimensions for both the business and public benefits (Pirsch, Gupta & Grau, 2007). ...
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In today's conditions, almost all businesses, of regardless of the sector they operate in, use social responsibility effectively to gain competitive advantage. Researches on corporate social responsibility commonly centered on customers' perception, while investigating employees' point of view is still needed. This research investigates relations between employee perceptions of corporate social responsibility, customer orientation, and perceived performance. Data were obtained from 218 employees and analyzed by Partial Least Squares (PLS) Structural Equation Modelling technique. Results show that all dimensions of employees' perception of CSR are positively related to customer orientation and perceived performance. Perceived environmental CSR activities are the strongest variable to explain perceived performance whereas perceived ethical CSR activities are the strongest variable to determine customer orientation. Furthermore, customer orientation is positively related to perceived performance. Results provide fruitful insights for employee-based CSR and its possible positive consequences. Furthermore, the study intends to fill the research void in employee-based CSR and investigate its effect on marketing related outputs with its results. Öz Günümüz şartlarında, hangi sektörde faaliyet gösterdikleri fark etmeksizin tüm sektörler rekabet avantajı kazanmak için kurumsal sosyal sorumluluğu etkin olarak kullanmaktadır. Kurumsal sosyal sorumluluk araştırmaları çoğunlukla tüketicilerin algısında yoğunlaşmıştır, konuya çalışanların bakış açısına ihtiyaç bulunmaktadır. Bu çalışma çalışanların kurumsal sosyal sorumluluk algısının, müşteri odaklılık ve algılanan performans ile ilişkisini incelemektedir. 218 çalışandan elde edilen veriler Kısmi En Küçük Kareler (PLS) Yapısal Eşitlik Modellemesi tekniği ile analiz edilmiştir. Sonuçlar çalışanların KSS algısının tüm boyutlarının müşteri odaklılık ve algılanan performans ile pozitif ilişkili olduğunu göstermektedir. Algılanan performansı açıklayan en güçlü değişken algılanan çevresel KSS aktiviteleriyken, müşteri odaklılığı açıklayan en güçlü değişken algılanan etik KSS aktiviteleridir. Ayrıca, müşteri odaklılık, algılanan performans ile pozitif ilişkilidir. Sonuçlar çalışan-temelli KSS ve onun olası pozitif sonuçları için yararlı içgörüler sunmaktadır. Ayrıca çalışma sonuçları ile çalışan temelli KSS'deki araştırma boşluğunu doldurmayı ve bunun pazarlama ile ilgili çıktılar üzerindeki etkisini incelemeyi hedeflemektedir. Bu çalışma, çalışanların kurumsal sosyal sorumluluk algılarına odaklanmakta ve çalışanların kurumsal sosyal sorumluluk algısının müşteri odaklılık ve algılanan performans ile ilişkisini incelemeyi amaçlamaktadır. Araştırma Soruları Çalışma, çalışanların kurumsal sosyal sorumluluk algısının olası sonuçlarını sorgulamaktadır. Bu doğrultuda ilk soru, çalışanların kurumsal sosyal sorumluluk algısının müşteri odaklılık ile ilişkili olup olmadığı, ikinci araştırma sorusu çalışanların kurumsal sosyal sorumluluk algısının algılanan performans ile ilişkili olup olmadığı, üçüncü araştırma sorusu ise müşteri odaklılığın algılanan performans ile ilişkili olup olmadığıdır.
... Previous studies have shown that in addition to the concern regarding society, CSR policies are capable to increase the financial results of a company (Pirsch et al., 2007). This is one of the reasons why CSR is considered to be important for companies. ...
This paper examines the main factors contributing to the social performance of supply chains. It also aims to examine the relationship between Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and the social pillar of Sustainable Supply Chain Management. Corporate Social Responsibility and Social Sustainability are two complex concepts with controversial meanings. CSR is a complicated concept which cannot be easily generalized, as every company has its own and unique social, environmental, and ethical impact on the society. In addition, social sustainability needs to be further examined, as it has received the least attention, both in research and practice, compared to the other dimensions (environmental and economic) of Sustainability. However, it is an equally important dimension, as social responsibility, or the development of policies related to the social aspect of sustainability may be considered as an important asset for a company. Nevertheless, the development of such policies needs to be designed carefully so as to prevent the undesired risk of creating a fake social image. To address these issues, this paper examines previous research related to the subject of study and develops a conceptual framework taking into consideration the resource-based view (RBV), the stakeholder and the legitimacy theories. Finally, the paper argues that the Social Return on Investment could be used as a tool to assess both the social performance of the company and the social value created inside the supply chain, ensuring the integrity of all stakeholders.
... pon this theory that this present study hinges. S t a k e h o l d e r theory suggests that organizational survival and s u c c e s s is contingent on satisfying both its economic (e.g., profit maximization) and n o ne c o n o m i c (c.g.. corporate social performance) objectives by meeting the needs of the company's various s t a k e h o l d e r s (Pirsch, Gupta, and Grau. 2007). Widely acclaimed as one of the first to define s t a k e h o l d e r theory, Freeman (1984) The support lend to the society through banks CSR will thereby make the business environment more friendly and habitable for organization survival. Spicer (1978) Wahid Olanipckun ct. al snproved the development of a CSR policy for the country, ...
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This study investigated the impact of corporate social responsibility on corporate profitability with particular emphasis on MTN, Nigeria, Secondary data were extracted from the MTN Nigeria and MTN Foundation Annual reports and accounts respectively. Pearson Product Moment Correlation Coefficient was used to test the hypotheses and show (he relationship between CSR expenditure and financial performance Findings revealed that CSR expenditure is significantly correlated to profitability at 0.05 level of significance. The study Concluded that significant relationship exist between CSR expenditure and financial performance. Based on the findings, there is need for all organizations to engage in CSR because businesses cannot successful operate in a community which they ignore. This implies that to help make the society a better place to work in, business should engage in activities beneficial to the society in general as this would even provide positive net benefits i.e. better image, subscriber patronage and loyalty on the part of stakeholders who see themselves as part of the business.
... Profitability is widely used to evaluate the impact of corporate characteristics on EID (Pirsch et al., 2007). According to the voluntary disclosure perspective, corporations with positive economic performance have a high willingness to conduct EID, which is quantifiable and specifically related to pollution, to reveal a wide range of measures and activities to the market (Hassan & Romilly, 2018). ...
Although widely explored in many studies, how and why combined top management team (TMT) and corporate characteristics affect environmental information disclosures (EID) are still lacking clarity. This study uses both fuzzy‐set qualitative comparative analysis and necessary condition analysis to reconcile the inconclusive results concerning the configurational effects of these characteristics on EID and to validate the robustness. From a sample of listed construction engineering corporates during the 2014–2018 period, the high EID level is associated with several complex configurations that contain the core characteristics such as corporate ownership and size, whereas the low EID level is related to the configurations including TMT salary and corporate profitability. The findings support the four tenets of equifinality, asymmetry, complexity, and causal asymmetry in complexity theory. Our results capture the complex non‐linear effects of TMT and corporate characteristics and shed new light on environmental disclosure management for corporate sustainable development.
... It is upon this theory that this present study hinges. Stakeholder theory suggests that organizational survival and success is contingent on saistying Doth its economic (e.g., profit maximization) and non-economic (e.g., Corporate social performance) objectives by meeting the needs of the company's various stakeholders (Pirsch, Gupta, and Grau, 2007). ...
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This study investigated the relationship between adoption of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programmes and sustainable development with particular emphasis on MTN, Nigeria. Questionnaire administration technique via a structured questionnaire was used in source for data information from stakeholders. Pearson Product Moment Correlation coefficient and Chi Square analysis was used to analyzed the data with the aid of Stata 11.0 statically software package. The study concludes that the adoption of CSR programmes such as skill acquisition, youth empowerment , support for economic, education, and health development etc indeed has a significant relationship on development of the society. It is recommended that government has a role to play promoting CSR through creating legislative and regulatory framework that would encourage companies to balance social, environmental and economic concerns given the already intense in line with the principles of sustainable development that underpins the concept of CSR.
... A compelling argument behind the motivation of firms to invest in CSR programs comes from the domain of stakeholder theory [40]. Stakeholder theory suggests that organisational survival and success are contingent on satisfying both its economic (e.g., profit maximisation) and non-economic (e.g., corporate social performance) objectives by meeting the needs of the company's various stakeholders [41]. Early research in stakeholder management defines a stakeholder in an organisation as any group or individual who can affect or is affected by the achievement of the organisation's objectives [42]. ...
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This quantitative research examines the relationship between corporate social responsibility and corporate financial performance. The research's specific objectives examined if there is any significant relationship between corporate social responsibility and net profit after tax. Also, the research looks to establish if there is a significant relationship between CSR and an organisation's revenue. The study's target population consisted of staff of Frieslandcampina Wamco and Unilever Nigeria PLC. The descriptive research design was adopted to obtain data needed to examine the relationship between the variables, and secondary data sourced from annual reports and accounts of the firms under study from 2013-2018 were used. Consequently, hypotheses were developed and were subsequently tested using the ordinary least square regression technique. Consequently, findings showed that CSR has a significant relationship with net profit after tax (NPAT). Furthermore, there is a positive and significant relationship between corporate social responsibility and revenue. Based on the findings, the study recommended that the fast-moving consumer goods firms from the manufacturing sector in Nigeria increase their investments in corporate social responsibility, as this will enhance their turnover in net profit before tax. In addition, manufacturing companies should ensure that CSR is encouraged to improve the companies' corporate image and reputation, which can invariably boost revenue and earnings for the firm.
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Bu araştırma sosyal kimlik kuramı, sosyal mübadele kuramı ve örgütsel adalet kuramı perspektiflerinden kurumsal sosyal sorumluluk (KSS) ve örgütsel adalet faktörlerinin örgütsel bağlılık üzerindeki etkisinde, kamu hizmetleri motivasyonunun (KHM) aracılık etkisinin tespit edilmesini amaçlamaktadır. Araştırmanın örneklemi Yükseköğretim Kurulu’nun 2019 yılında yayınladığı üniversite izleme ve değerlendirme raporlarına göre topluma hizmet ve sosyal sorumluluk kategorisinde, üniversite sosyal sorumluluk proje sayısı alanında birinci sırada yer alan Atatürk Üniversitesinde çalışan öğretim elemanlarından seçilmiştir. Çalışmanın evreninden çok aşamalı örnekleme yöntemi kullanılarak evreni temsil gücü yüksek bir örneklem grubu belirlenmiştir. Veriler beşli Likert ölçeğine dayalı anket yöntemi ile 341 katılımcıdan toplanmıştır. Bu verilerden yola çıkarak kullanılan ölçeklerin istatistiksel olarak geçerlilik ve güvenilirlik analizleri yapılmıştır. Daha sonrasında yapısal eşitlik modeli kullanılarak değişkenler arasındaki ilişkiler, doğrudan etkiler, dolaylı etkiler, tam aracılık rolleri ve kısmi aracılık rolleri analiz edilmiştir. Anketten elde edilen verilerin analizi neticesinde öğretim elemanlarının örgütsel adalet ve KSS algılarının duygusal ve normatif bağlılıkları üzerinde hem doğrudan hem de dolaylı etkilerinin olduğu belirlenmiştir. Diğer taraftan bu çalışmanın bulguları ile örgütsel adalet ve KSS’yi örgütsel bağlılığın önemli öncül değişkeni olarak kabul eden literatüre önemli bir katkı olarak KHM’nin aracılık etkisi olduğu tespit edilmiştir. Anahtar Kelimeler: Kamu Hizmetleri Motivasyonu, Kurumsal Sosyal Sorumluluk, Örgütsel Adalet, Örgütsel Bağlılık
Purpose – This research aims to understand consumer responses to corporate social responsibility (CSR) during an unprecedented public health crisis. Specifically, two studies were conducted to investigate how companies’ different CSR initiatives in the early stage of COVID-19 would influence consumers’ advocacy intention according to their focus (i.e. targets of institutional CSR). The first study examined the moderating role of individuals’ CSR expectancy on the effects of companies’ CSR initiatives on consumers’ brand advocacy intention. The second study further extends the findings of Study 1 by examining the mediating role of perceived brand motive. Design/methodology/approach – Two between-subject online experiments were conducted to explore the impact of three types of institutional CSR initiatives (i.e. community, employee and consumer-centered CSRs) on brand advocacy. Study 1 (N = 380) examined the moderating role of CSR expectancy in influencing consumer responses to institutional CSR initiatives. Study 2 (N = 384) explored the underlying mechanism through examining the mediating role of a company’s value-driven motivation in the process. Findings – Study 1 indicated that institutional CSR, regardless of type, was more effective in generating a more significant brand advocacy intention than a promotional message, measured as a baseline. The impact of different kinds of institutional CSR on consumers’ brand advocacy intentions was significantly moderated by their CSR-related expectations. Specifically, individuals with moderate to high CSR expectancy showed higher brand advocacy intentions in both consumer- and employee-centered CSR initiatives than the promotional message. In comparison, those with low CSR expectancy only showed higher brand advocacy intentions in the community-centered CSR initiative. In addition, as individuals’ CSR expectations rose, the mediation effect of the perceived value-driven motivation became stronger. Research limitations/implications – The current study includes guiding principles to help companies effectively respond to COVID-19 as corporate citizens by demonstrating the importance of individuals’ CSR expectancy across three CSR initiatives. This study used real-life examples of how leading companies were stepping up CSR efforts and suggested an approach that aligns CSR behaviors with the urgent and fundamental human needs of COVID-19. Originality/value – In line with the CSR goal of maximizing benefits for stakeholders, this study’s findings signal that situational changes determine CSR expectations and that companies must be highly susceptible to the changes in consumers’ expectations of CSR and their appraisal process of CSR motives to maximize its CSR value. Keywords Corporate social responsibility, Brand advocacy, COVID-19, CSR expectancy, CSR motives, Institutional CSR, Value-driven CSR motives
Information processing theory and findings on advertising response suggest a nonlinear response to repetitive ad exposure, mediated by brand loyalty. The response can occur in either or both of the hypothesized stages of purchase: brand choice and quantity choice. A tobit-type analysis of scanner purchases (with TV exposures) of a mature product category appears to support these hypotheses. The effect of advertising is generally nonlinear and its impact on volume purchased is mediated by brand loyalty. Advertising seems to reinforce preference for current brands rather than stimulate brand switching. However, features, displays, and especially price have a stronger impact on response than does advertising. The effect of brand loyalty dominates that of the other variables.
Brand loyalty is first distinguished from simple repeat purchasing behavior and then conceptually defined in terms of six necessary and collectively sufficient conditions. An experiment designed to test this conceptualization provided strong empirical support for the distinction as conceptualized.
Marketing is a pervasive societal activity that goes considerably beyond the selling of toothpaste, soap, and steel. The authors interpret the meaning of marketing for nonbusiness organizations and the nature of marketing functions such as product improvement, pricing, distribution, and communication in such organizations. The question considered is whether traditional marketing principles are transferable to the marketing of organizations, persons, and ideas.
The proposal that marketing is relevant to all organizations having customer groups was advanced in the January, 1969 issue of this journal. It is now stated that the original broadening proposal should be broadened still further to include the transactions between an organization and all of its publics. The author sees marketing as the disciplined task of creating and offering values to others for the purpose of achieving a desired response. The generic view of marketing is defined by a set of four axioms and leads to new marketing typologies and views of the tasks of marketing management.
Cause-related marketing represents the confluence of perspectives from several specialized areas of inquiry such as marketing for nonprofit organizations, the promotion mix, corporate philanthropy, corporate social responsibility, fund-raising management, and public relations. The authors outline the concept of cause-related marketing, its characteristics, and how organizations, both for-profit and not-for-profit, can benefit from effective use of this promising marketing tool.
Although brand theorists suggest that what a person knows about a company (i.e., corporate associations) can influence perceptions of the company's products, little systematic research on these effects exists. The authors examine the effects of two general types of corporate associations on product responses: One focuses on the company's capabilities for producing products, that is, corporate ability (CA) associations, and the other focuses on the company's perceived social responsibility, that is, corporate social responsibility (CSR) associations. The results of three studies, including one that measures respondents’ CA and CSR associations for well-known companies and one that uses consumers recruited in a shopping mall, demonstrate that (1) what consumers know about a company can influence their beliefs about and attitudes toward new products manufactured by that company, (2) CA and CSR associations may have different effects on consumer responses to products, and (3) products of companies with negative associations are not always destined to receive negative responses. The authors conclude by discussing the implications of these findings for marketing managers and further research.