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The impact of CSR on brand equity

The moderating role of consumer involvement in CSR

Written by Jiajun Wu, Wanying Huang

Paper category

Master Thesis


Business Administration>General




Master Thesis: Corporate social responsibility is an essential management issue for modern enterprises. The definition of corporate social responsibility was first proposed by Bowen (1953), who defined it as “businessmen are obliged to pursue those policies, make those decisions, or follow those courses of action that are desirable in terms of social goals and values.” He discussed It has established business ethics and social responsibility, and laid the foundation for corporate executives and scholars to regard corporate social responsibility as a part of corporate strategy and management decision-making. Since its introduction, CSR has become an important topic in management research and has been well developed (Berger et al., 2007). Corporate social responsibility plays a vital role in the development of enterprises and society. As more and more companies participate in CSR activities, in order to clarify the relationship between CSR activities and social issues, Carrol (1979; 1991; 2016) established a four-dimensional framework to emphasize key aspects when planning issues related to social performance And implementation in developing societies. He pointed out that the four responsibilities are like a pyramid, laying the foundation for the genetic characteristics of social responsibility: economic, legal, moral, and charitable responsibility. Some studies also discussed related management practices from the perspective of social welfare, and hinted at the importance of corporate CSR activities in reducing the gap between rich and poor and the social impact of administrative practices (for example, Wartick and Cochran, 1985; Wood, 1991). In other words, corporate social responsibility provides a multi-perspective explanation for the responsibilities that enterprises and society should undertake in the development of society, and has far-reaching influence. Therefore, the concept of CSR that has been more endorsed recently is that “corporate social responsibility includes the economic, legal, ethical, and discretionary (charitable) expectations of the society at a specific time” (Carroll & Buchholtz, 2014, p. 32) was adopted in this paper. From a corporate perspective, empirical studies have shown the link between corporate social responsibility and corporate brand effectiveness (e.g. Cha, Yi, Bagozzi, 2016; Chung and Lee, 2019; Einwiller et al., 2019; Martinez and Bosque, 2013 ), where the level of corporate CSR can directly or indirectly affect consumers’ purchase intentions and brand recognition (He and Li, 2011). Corporate social responsibility is also very important in assessing the contribution of an enterprise to its stakeholders, mainly by fulfilling economic responsibilities, matching corporate social responsibility with strategic intentions, and even being set as a way to promote social order. In short, corporate social responsibility is proven for its contribution to brand and consumer perception. However, previous studies mostly focused on the participation of companies or employees in corporate social responsibility (e.g. Chong, 2009), and seldom paid attention to the participation of individuals in corporate social responsibility. This is also a potential factor affecting consumers' perception of corporate social responsibility. Previous studies have adopted various theories to explore the impact of corporate social responsibility on enterprises and consumers. Fernando and Lawrence (2014) believe that CSR literature research mainly uses three mainstream theories: legitimacy theory, stakeholder theory, and system theory. Based on Fernando and Lawrence (2014), these three theories have similarities, but the stakeholder theory pays more attention to the investigation of independent consumers, and can connect companies with their stakeholders in terms of ethics and management. The stakeholder theory shows that the development of an enterprise cannot do without stakeholder input or participation. Stakeholders are defined as individuals or groups that can influence company decisions through their relationships (Freeman, 1984). Since this view is widely used in research on the impact of CSR, stakeholders are believed to be able to assess the degree of CSR of the company (Endacott, 2004; Rowley and Moldoveanu, 2003). Two main points of view have emerged in recent years for studying consumers through stakeholder theory and corporate social responsibility (as an important stakeholder group) (Berger et al., 2007). On the one hand, some studies have begun to investigate how consumers individually participate in CSR programs adopted by companies (Rupp and Mallory, 2015; Gond et al., 2017). Consumers can increase their loyalty and awareness of the company by perceiving the value creation brought by corporate social responsibility activities, which is also the company's marketing output (Green and Peloza, 2011). At the same time, since consumer appreciation can promote the profitability of companies, empirical research has proposed a process and framework to measure the interaction between consumers and companies through corporate social responsibility activities (for example, Bhattacharya and Sen, 2004) . Therefore, the stakeholder theory is suitable for further research on how consumers participate in corporate social responsibility and its impact on consumer-based brand equity. A series of studies believe that consumer participation is very important. For example, Howie et al. (2018) believes that companies can win competitors, create social impact and obtain higher operational efficiency of marketing applications by participating in business-related marketing. This refers to designated businesses that earn profits by encouraging consumer participation (Varadarajan and Menon 1988) . In addition, Bagozzi and Dholakia (2002) discussed a problem of members participating in virtual communities and distinguishing individual intentions from group intentions from a personal perspective. Read Less