Our experiment examines how corporate prior ethical reputation, CSR cause fit, and information source interact with each other; and how this interaction influences consumers’ evaluations of the company. Meanwhile, our study tests the mediating effect of inferred CSR motives on consumer responses to CSR initiatives. Results show that corporate prior ethical reputation affects consumers’ company evaluations regardless of CSR cause fit and information source, and that this effect is partially mediated by inferred CSR motives. Our study contributes to CSR scholarship in the domain of strategic communication. Through adopting an interdisciplinary approach advocated by strategic communication researchers, it carries current piecewise understanding of consumer responses to CSR a step forward to a holistic framework. Practitioners will find its results useful in selecting and communicating CSR activities based on their firms’ reputation characteristics.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science