Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 100, Issue 3, pp 515–534 | Cite as

Fostering Responsible Communities: A Community Social Marketing Approach to Sustainable Living

  • Marylyn CarriganEmail author
  • Caroline Moraes
  • Sheena Leek


Just as socially irresponsible organizational behavior leaves a punitive legacy on society, socially responsible organizations can foster curative change. This article examines whether small organizations can foster societal change toward more sustainable modes of living. We contend that consumption is deeply intertwined with social relations and norms, thus making individual behavioral change toward sustainability a matter of facilitating change in individual behavior, as well as in social norms and relations between organizations and consumers. We argue that it is in this facilitation process that small firms can play a major role, by adopting upstream and downstream approaches to diffuse behavioral change. By synthesizing four key strands of literature – small businesses and corporate social responsibility, ethical consumption, community social marketing, and the diffusion of innovation – and using the exemplar case of Modbury, the iconic “plastic bag-free” town, we demonstrate how responsible small firms can influence communities, and the individuals therein, to encourage environmentally sustainable practice to diffuse and support change in society.

Key words

community CSR small business social marketing sustainability 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marylyn Carrigan
    • 1
    Email author
  • Caroline Moraes
    • 2
  • Sheena Leek
    • 2
  1. 1.Open University Business SchoolThe Open UniversityMilton KeynesU.K.
  2. 2.Birmingham Business SchoolUniversity of BirminghamBirminghamU.K.

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