Corporate Social Responsibility : A genuine comittment or just good adverising
The importance of corporate social responsibility (hereinafter referred to as CSR) is on the rise, and more and more companies are engaging in activities such as cause-related marketing, employee volunteering and/or corporate philanthropy, commonly referred to CSR programmes. More than 80 % of Fortune 500 companies deal with CSR issues in the United States. In Europe the number of companies doing this is also growing, led by companies such as The Body Shop and SAP.
What are the reasons for this trend? On the one hand, consumers are becoming increasingly aware of bad business practices in times of increasing media coverage and advanced information technology. Twitter storms and Facebook campaigns have enabled consumers to exert their powers of protest and boycotting, resulting in negative economic consequences for the companies. For instance the Coca-Cola #notinmyfridge twitter campaign is said to have had an impact on the company’s global sales due to the negative publicity.
On the other hand, there is evidence that CSR is not only “the moral thing to do”, but also has a positive impact on the company’s relationships with its stakeholders, such as employees, customers and consumers. CSR is reported to have a positive impact on both consumer product responses as well as its attitude towards the company, including consumers’ identification with the company.
Still, there are still many knowledge gaps with regards to how these CSR programmes are being developed and implemented today. In addition to this, there is limited research on how the programmes are being perceived by stakeholders such as customers, consumers, employees and leaders, or indeed what the main driving forces are behind setting up such programmes. Is it a desire to be a great company or just a precaution to avoid “twitter"-storms?
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