Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) can do more than just influence how consumers choose amongst products; it can influence their beliefs and attitudes. This study evaluates how CSR information affects consumers, potential employees and investors. The authors find stakeholders who are aware of CSR initiatives not only have more positive views of the company and their relationship to it, but they have a greater intention to work for and invest in the company, and to consume its products.
Research shows CSR has the potential to trigger positive company-favouring effects, but there is limited evidence in the real-world marketplace. Much of the literature examining benefits of CSR 1) assumes stakeholders are aware of the initiatives, and 2) focuses on sales-related outcomes This study evaluates outcomes of a consumer goods company's donation to a childhood development centre. It explores how awareness of the donation affects stakeholders' beliefs and attitudes toward the company.
Just 17 percent of stakeholders surveyed were aware the donation had taken place-but this group had a greater intention to consume the company's products, and to work for and invest in the company.
- Those who were aware identified more with the company, and viewed the company as more socially responsible compared with those who were unaware.
- Positive actions towards the company were stronger among individuals who believe the company had genuine concern about the issues involved.
Implications for Managers
- Communicate CSR initiatives effectively, since unaware stakeholders may have less-positive views and attitudes towards your company.
- Broaden communication efforts to include not only consumers but employees, investors and other stakeholders. This is important because CSR can positively impact stakeholders other than customers.
Implications for Researchers
Future research could identify how companies can ensure "genuine concern" is communicated. For future research, the authors call for the full range of stakeholder attributions of the company's CSR motives to be investigated.
CSR was measured as a Fortune 500 company's donation to a university. Awareness, perceptions and behavioural intentions were measured in web-based surveys with 1,200 students, two weeks before the donation announcement, and two weeks after the donation. The two sets of scores were compared. Next, subgroups displaying low and high attributions were compared to understand whether CSR outcomes (purchase intentions) would be stronger and more positive for individuals making attributions of genuine concern.
Sen, Sankar, Bhattacharya, C. B., and Korschun, Daniel. (2006). The Role of Corporate Social Responsibility in Strengthening Multiple Stakeholder Relationships: A Field experiment. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 34(2): 158-166.
Alberto Fonseca & The NBS Team