Publication Details

Pomering, A. & Dolnicar, S. (2009). Assessing the prerequisite of successful CSR implementation: are consumers aware of CSR initiatives?. Journal of Business Ethics, 85 (2s), 285-301.


Corporate social responsibility has received a large amount of research attention over the last decade. Results indicate that consumers are influenced by corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives of businesses if they are aware of them. Whether consumers are in fact aware of CSR initiatives, however, has not been studied in the past. This ‘missing link’ in CSR research makes the conclusions that CSR affects consumer behaviour questionable. Consequently, a number of researchers (e.g. Maignan 2001; Mohr, Webb, and Harris 2001) have called for empirical studies to determine the extent to which consumers are actually aware of the CSR records of corporations and the social issues engaged within those CSR records. The present study fills this gap for the Australian banking industry sector. Results from a qualitative study with bank managers and a quantitative study with consumers indicate that the awareness levels of CSR activities are low, despite the fact that banks do actively promote their CSR activities. This leads to the conclusion that CSR, while effective in theory, has not proven its general effectiveness in the marketplace. In order to benefit from CSR activities, businesses have to be more active in communicating their activities and wisely choose the targets for both their CSR activities and their communications. Our results indicate that specialization on consumers with distinct interests (e.g. in sports, cancer research, etc.) currently offers the highest success probability in increasing awareness.



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