Are Customers Rewarding Responsible Businesses? An Overview of the Theory and Research in the Field of CSR

Alexandra ZBUCHEA


Many researchers consider corporate social responsibility (CSR) a key element in developing sustainable businesses today. The benefits for companies and communities are very diverse. From a company perspective, some benefits are non-financials while, on the other hand, many of them have a financial dimension. An important outcome considered in this context is the increase in sales. The present paper analyses the most reliable worldwide studies on how consumers are actually influenced by the social-responsible actions of companies. It aims to understand in what degree people are responsive to CSR actions and to see how much of the intended attitude towards responsible businesses is translated into actual behavior. Items considered are trust, purchase behavior, and loyalty in the case of responsible businesses and boycott in the case of irresponsible ones. The research developed worldwide in the last five years show that people are extremely concerned with CSR and they try to be responsible by rewarding companies that are responsible or by sanctioning the ones which are perceived as irresponsible. There is a difference between intentions and actual behavior, partly justified by the fact that people feel they are not sufficiently informed on the responsible companies. Nevertheless a larger part part of the respondents are actively recognizing and rewarding CSR contributions of companies. Research shows that country differences exist. The most responsive countries are the ones with emerging economies. Countries in Europe and North America are more reserved. Differences in reactions are to be registered also by taking into account the age of the respondents, as well as the domain in which companies get involved through their CSR strategies.

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