- Research Handbooks in Business and Management series
Edited by Ronald Paul Hill and Ryan Langan
Chapter 10: Consumers and CSR understanding: nuances in consumer perceptions of corporate responsibility initiatives
‘I myself own a flower,’ he continued his conversation with the businessman, ‘which I water every day. I own three volcanoes, which I clean out every week (for I also clean out the one that is extinct; one never knows). It is of some use to my volcanoes, and it is of some use to my flower, that I own them. But you are of no use to the stars . . .’ The businessman opened his mouth, but he found nothing to say in answer. And the little prince went away. (Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince, 1943) With consumers increasingly questioning the role of business in creating social value, it is essential for most firms to address corporate responsibility in ways that go beyond the minimum legal requirement and to communicate their various societal contributions. However, corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts often fail to have a significant positive impact on consumers, with the result that the ‘business case’ for CSR can prove elusive (Bhattacharya and Sen 2004; Smith 2008; Vogel 2005). This chapter reviews some key research findings on how corporate responsibility initiatives and communications can be more in tune with consumer concerns and be more likely to generate the desired consumer response. First, a company needs to identify the social and environmental issues it should give attention to if consumers are to reward its efforts.
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