Antecedents to participation in corporate social responsibility programs

Anna S. Mattila, Lydia Hanks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Purpose: In today's competitive marketplace, companies are devoting an increasing amount of time and money to establishing themselves as socially responsible, in an effort to appeal to the value system of their target customers (Sen and Bhattacharya). In the current study, the paper focuses on corporate social responsibility (CSR) appeals in which the company promises to donate a portion of the purchase price to a charitable cause and requests a matching donation from the customer. More specifically, the purpose of this paper is to investigate the joint effects of status, proximity to CSR, and empathy towards the cause on consumers' willingness to donate money to a charity. Design/methodology/approach: The study used written scenarios and a 2×2×2 between subjects quasi experimental design to test the hypotheses. The authors predicted that status would interact with empathy and proximity of the cause to influence customers' donation behavior. Findings: The results supported these predictions. Status seeking individuals exhibited higher levels of prosocial behaviors when the cause was a national one, particularly when the individual felt empathy towards the distant cause. Conversely, empathy feelings had a positive impact donation intent when the cause was a local one and status seeking was not activated. Originality/value: The results of this study have significant implications for marketers and managers who are considering launching a CSR program. By aligning the cause with the type of consumer, corporations may be able to obtain a higher response rate from customers, thereby increasing the level of consumer involvement and engagement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)664-676
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Service Management
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Business, Management and Accounting (miscellaneous)
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management
  • Strategy and Management


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