Business Ethics and CSR

The Business Case for CSR: A Trump Card Against Hypocrisy?

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Why do many companies use a business case frame when referring to their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities? Two experiments (N=1687) show that using a business case frame makes for a better impression management strategy than moral frames. By signaling that CSR activities are driven by instrumental reasons, and therefore not diagnostic of a company's moral character, a business case frame (and also a hybrid frame) suppresses accusations of hypocrisy. Consequently, when companies do not appear fully committed to CSR, using a business case frame makes them seem less hypocritical and elicits more favorable social evaluations, compared to using a moral frame. When companies appear committed to CSR, business case, hybrid and moral frames elicit similarly positive evaluations. These results support our theorizing that the rhetorical frames used when referring to CSR are not cheap talk, but constitute costly signals because they affect how companies are subsequently evaluated.
Bibliographic citation: HAFENBRÄDL, S., WAEGER, D. (2021). The Business Case for CSR: A Trump Card Against Hypocrisy? Journal of Business Research, 129, 838-848. doi:10.1016/j.jbusres.2019.08.043.

Reference: 10.1016/j.jbusres.2019.08.043 (DOI)
Date: 01/05/2021
Author(s): Sebastian Hafenbrädl; Daniel Waeger
Document type: Article in Journal (refereed)
Department: Managing People in Organizations
Languages: English