Cen April Yue and colleagues explored the effects of corporate social responsibility (CSR) or corporate social irresponsibility (CSI) on consumer responses.

Two experiments were conducted on 361 U.S. adult consumers and 291 U.S. adult consumers respectively. The first examined consumer responses to CSR and CSI
when they occurred separately. The second explored the impact of CSR and CSI when they occurred simultaneously.

Key findings include:

  • Both studies found that the order of the occurrence of CSR and CSI made a difference on most consumer responses, including “perceived corporate hypocrisy,” “negative word of mouth intention,” and “protest intention.”
    • There were stronger negative consumer responses when CSR and CSI were implemented at the same time, compared to when CSR followed CSI.
  • When CSI was in the same domain as prior CSR, participants tended to show more negative responses toward the company.
    • Respondents scored “perceived corporate hypocrisy” on a scale of 1-7, 7 being a “strong perceived corporate hypocrisy.” When CSI followed CSR in a different domain, the mean score was 4. When CSI followed CSR in the same domain, the mean score was roughly 5.5.
  • It appeared CSR commitment did not impact consumers’ responses.
    • When there was low CSR commitment, domain congruity and CSR followed by CSI, the score was 5.23 for “perceived hypocrisy.” The same variables with high CSR commitment had a score of 5.22.

Learn more about how corporate social responsibility and irresponsibility effects consumer responses

Heidy Modarelli handles Growth & Marketing for IPR. She has previously written for Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, The Next Web, and VentureBeat.
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