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EMAC 2021 Annual Conference

Doing good for humanity, the community, or the planet: Exposing consumers to morally congruent CSR has beneficial effects for business and society

Published: May 25, 2021


Camilla Barbarossa, Toulouse Business School; Simona Romani, Luiss University; Yanyan CHEN, Toulouse Business School; Daniel Korschun, Drexel University


Mass-market retailers (MMRs) practice corporate social responsibility (CSR) in diverse domains, such as ethics, community, and environment. We unveil whether and when consumers (a) reward MMRs and (b) support the cause more, depending on the CSR domain practiced. Grounded on the Big Three of morality (i.e., autonomy, community, and purity), and the notion of focal morality, we posit that when autonomy- (community-, purity-) oriented individuals are exposed to morally congruent ethic- (community-, environment-) based CSR, they exhibit more favorable pro-company responses (e.g., attitudes toward the MMR) and pro-social responses (e.g., donating money to and volunteer in the cause). Across three experimental studies (N combined = 2,508) with consumers residing in both western and non-western countries, we find strong support for the hypothesized focal morality–CSR domain congruence mechanism and its beneficial effects for both business and society in general. The hypothesized mechanism however does not hold when community-oriented individuals are exposed to congruent community-based CSR. Finally, the implications of our findings for theory as well as for business and society are discussed.