Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 147, Issue 2, pp 385–400 | Cite as

Retail Chains’ Corporate Social Responsibility Communication

  • Jakob Utgård


This study examines determinants of retail chains’ corporate social responsibility (CSR) communication on their web pages. The theoretical foundation for the study is signaling theory, which suggests that firms will communicate about their CSR efforts when this is profitable for them and when such communication makes it possible for outsiders to distinguish good from bad performers. Based on this theory, I develop hypotheses about retail chains’ CSR signaling. The hypotheses are tested in a sample of 208 retail chains in the Norwegian market. As hypothesized, I find that foreign chains, chains using private brands, and vertically integrated chains are more likely to signal, but I find no relationship between pricing and signaling. In further analysis using chains’ CSR memberships and certifications as the measure of signals, only the relationship between organizational form and signaling is replicated. In total, the findings give partial support to signaling theory.


Corporate social responsibility Communication Retail Web pages Signaling theory Franchising 


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Oslo School of ManagementOsloNorway

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