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The Influence of Cognitive Dimensions on the Consumer-SME Relationship: A Sustainability-Oriented View

Francesco Caputo (), Luca Carrubbo () and Debora Sarno ()
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Francesco Caputo: Department of Pharmacy, University of Salerno, Via Giovanni Paolo II, 132, 84084 Fisciano SA, Italy
Luca Carrubbo: Department of Medicine, University of Salerno, Via Giovanni Paolo II, 132, 84084 Fisciano SA, Italy
Debora Sarno: Department of Management, Sapienza University of Rome, Via del Castro Laurenziano, 9, 00161 Rome RM, Italy

Sustainability, 2018, vol. 10, issue 9, 1-19

Abstract: While companies are investing increasingly in sustainability measures, the effects of firms’ sustainability actions on consumer perceptions should not be taken for granted and deserve to be investigated. By adopting the interpretative lens of consumer culture theory, this paper defines a set of cognitive dimensions which can describe consumer perceptions of sustainability actions and the behaviors of small–medium enterprises (SMEs), with the aim of identifying the relationships between firms’ sustainability actions and the economic performance of SMEs. To this extent, the cognitive dimensions proposed by Green & Petre (1996) are re-elaborated to define a set of customer cognitive dimensions in the sustainability domain (resilience, wholeness, mapping, coding, and engagement). Thus, the relationships between SMEs’ sustainability actions and behaviors, the defined cognitive influencers and SME performance is empirically tested. In particular, a survey of a sample of 1137 customers of 175 Italian SMEs is analyzed using structural equation modelling (SEM). The findings show that the adoption of certain sustainability actions influences consumer perceptions, which in turn impacts the economic performance of SMEs.

Keywords: sustainability; consumer culture theory; cognitive dimensions; SMEs; structural equation modelling (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: Q Q0 Q2 Q3 Q5 Q56 O13 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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