Consumer responses toward retail firms' engagement in corporate social responsibility:empirical evidence from an emerging economy

Abstract

The aim of this research is to investigate Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) engagement of retail firms in the context of an emerging economy. More specifically, its objectives are twofold: firstly, to explore of the general outlook of the CSR in the context of an emerging economy; secondly, to determine the attribution process of consumers towards CSR initiatives carried out by the retail firms and potential mediating and moderating factors of the relationships between CSR domains and consumers’ attributions and responses.The theoretical backbone of the thesis is attribution theory, in combination with other theories explaining customer responses to CSR, such as theories regarding ethical consumption and consumer loyalty, to provide explication of the nature and extent of the relationships between variables in the research framework.A mixed methods approach is employed to address the research questions. A survey on 716consumers across 45 retailers is developed subsequent to 13 in-depth interview sessions with participants who are working in retail industry. The results emerged from the qualitative study inform the conceptual framework to test in the subsequent quantitative study.A comprehensive review of literature shows some substantial gaps in understanding CSR from the perspective of individual consumers in the context of emerging markets. These limitations to the current knowledge have been clearly highlighted as the lack of evidence in the context of emerging market on how the consumers respond towards CSR engagement of3the retail firms, on which processes or mechanisms that the CSR engagement translates into consumer-related consequences, and under which conditions that the CSR efforts influence the consequences. In addressing these gaps, the research, therefore, contributes to the CSRliterature on emerging economies by investigating the role of CSR domains on consumer attributions, the mediating effects of consumer attributions on the relationships between CSR domains and brand-related outcomes, and the moderating effects of proactive CSR strategy of retail firms and consumer consciousness of sustainable consumption.The main findings of the research show the first interesting implication that CSR domains have different impacts on consumer attributions. Community and customer domains have direct and positive impacts, while environment and employee domains have direct and negative impacts on consumer attributions of normative, affective, calculative motives of the retail firms. In addition, the research provides empirical findings on the link between consumer attribution of normative motives of the retail firms and their attitudinal loyalty to the retail firms. Secondly,the research provides empirical evidence on inferred motives as mediators which translate CSR domains into the consumers’ loyalty and willingness to pay more. Consumer attribution of normative motive, affective motive, and calculative motive of the retail firms partially mediate the relationships between four types of CSR domains (environment, customer, employee, and society) and attitudinal loyalty; meanwhile, consumer attribution of affective motives of the retail firms partially mediates the relationship between community domain and attitudinal loyalty. Also, partial effects of mediation of consumer attribution of normative and affective motives are found on the relationship between customer domain and willingness to pay more of the consumers. It is also reported that full mediation is revealed when two mediators(normative and affective motives) fully mediate the relationships between three types of CSR domains (environment, employee, and society) and willingness to pay more. Finally, the research found supporting evidence of three moderators which set the favourable or unfavourable conditions for the CSR domains influence the consumer’s attributions. Namely,proactive CSR dampens the positive relationship between community CSR domain and affective motive; consciousness of sustainable consumption in environment strengthens the positive relationship between environmental CSR domain and affective motive;consciousness of sustainable consumption in society strengthens the positive relationship between societal CSR domain and normative motive.

Divisions: Aston Business School > Marketing & Strategy
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Institution: Aston University
Uncontrolled Keywords: corporate social responsibility,,consumer perception,,attribution theory,consciousness of sustainable consumption,,emerging economy.
Completed Date: 2021
Authors: Le, Tien Duc

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