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Companies, Meet Ethical Consumers: Strategic CSR Management to Impact Consumer Choice

Henri Kuokkanen () and William Sun ()
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Henri Kuokkanen: Institut Paul Bocuse
William Sun: Leeds Beckett University

Journal of Business Ethics, 2020, vol. 166, issue 2, No 11, 403-423

Abstract: Abstract Fulfilling consumer expectations of corporate social responsibility (CSR) can bring strategic advantage to firms. However, research on the topic is fragmented across disparate disciplines, and a comprehensive framework to connect CSR supply and demand is missing. As a result, firms often supply CSR that does not attract demand, as signified by pessimism about ethical consumerism in recent years and the inconclusive link between corporate financial and social performance. In this study, we propose a framework of strategic CSR management to define how a company’s supply of CSR could meet consumer demand for ethical products by aligning managerial and consumer perspectives. We then investigate empirically whether such a strategic approach, which integrates potential demand in CSR management, would influence consumer choice of products with CSR components. Our hybrid choice modeling allows the inclusion of psychological biases caused by social desirability and cynicism to increase result validity. The findings support the explanatory power of the framework and reveal that consumers prefer some CSR elements while others adversely affect choices. This study advances the understanding of strategic CSR management and its impact on consumer choice and helps managers include the right mix of CSR characteristics in their products to satisfy ethical consumers.

Keywords: CSR demand and supply; Ethical consumption; Strategic CSR management (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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DOI: 10.1007/s10551-019-04145-4

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