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The role of message specificity in corporate social responsibility communication

Stefanie Robinson and Meike Eilert

Journal of Business Research, 2018, vol. 90, issue C, 260-268

Abstract: Companies vary in how they communicate their corporate social responsibility (CSR) endeavors, either reporting the specific causes supported (e.g., “We support the American Lung Association, Kidney Foundation, and Multiple Sclerosis Society”) or mentioning the issue in general (e.g., “We support advancing health”). This study investigates which message strategy (general or specific) is more effective and shows that when companies donate to a single issue (e.g., health), a specific rather than a general message strategy produces more positive evaluations. This is because consumers trust companies more when they communicate their cause support with more specificity. However, when a company donates to a diverse set of issues (e.g., health, environment, and education), a boundary condition to the effect occurs. This research has important implications for managers' decisions on how best to advertise their CSR efforts.

Keywords: Message strategy; Trust; Corporate social responsibility; Cause portfolios; Message specificity (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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