Three Essays on the Effects of Corporate Social Responsibility on Brand and Firm Outcomes

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Nickerson, Dionne Antoinette
Kohli, Ajay K.
Bharadwaj, Sundar G.
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This work examines the impact of corporate social responsibility (CSR) on marketing outcomes from three unique perspectives. The first essay centers on a multimethod approach and distinguishes between three types of CSR engagement. Results from observational data and laboratory experiments suggest that CSR engagement aimed at reducing a brand’s negative impact produces the highest sales increase, whereas purely philanthropic-type CSR efforts can hurt sales. The second essay explores the role of the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) in helping firms reap benefits from CSR, using panel data from a sample of over 300 firms. The findings show that the CMO can positively influence firm financial performance by enhancing a firm’s socially responsible behavior and reducing a firm’s socially irresponsible behavior. The final essay takes an experimental approach to investigate the impact of CSR claims on consumer perceptions of the brand’s societal benefits as well as consumer choice. The findings suggest that CSR claims related to activities within a brand’s core business operations (business process CSR claims) increase societal benefits, and lead to a greater choice of socially responsible products, compared to CSR claims involving activities outside a brand’s core business operations (philanthropic CSR claims).
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