Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 70, Issue 2, pp 125-140

First online:

A Framework for Understanding Corporate Social Responsibility Programs as a Continuum: An Exploratory Study

  • Julie PirschAffiliated withDepartment of Marketing, Villanova University Email author 
  • , Shruti GuptaAffiliated withThe Pennsylvania State University
  • , Stacy Landreth GrauAffiliated withTexas Christian University

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Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs are increasingly popular corporate marketing strategies. This paper argues that CSR programs can fall along a continuum between two endpoints: Institutionalized programs and Promotional programs. This classification is based on an exploratory study examining the variance of four responses from the consumer stakeholder group toward these two categories of CSR. Institutionalized CSR programs are argued to be most effective at increasing customer loyalty, enhancing attitude toward the company, and decreasing consumer skepticism. Promotional CSR programs are argued to be more effective at generating purchase intent. Ethical and managerial implications of these preliminary findings are discussed.


Corporate social responsibility cause-related marketing customer loyalty satisfaction stakeholder theory skepticism