Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 157, Issue 2, pp 359–373 | Cite as

Frontline Employees as Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Ambassadors: A Quasi-Field Experiment

  • Laura Marie Edinger-SchonsEmail author
  • Lars Lengler-Graiff
  • Sabrina Scheidler
  • Jan Wieseke
Original Paper


As past research has identified frontline employees as the primary communicators of a company’s CSR, this paper reports on a large-scale quasi-field experiment aimed at gaining a deeper understanding of the levers of successful in-store, point-of-sale, CSR communication. In cooperation with a large international retailer, the authors analyzed the effects of varying in-store CSR communication strategies in 48 unique stores, combining data from a customer survey (N = 38,999), company records of customers’ real visits and purchases, and interviews with store managers. Taking into account the nested structure of the data, the authors reveal that CSR-related training of frontline employees bestows its favorable effect on customers and customer behavior only if it is accompanied by the store managers’ personal support for CSR.


Corporate social responsibility (CSR) CSR communication In-store communication Point-of-sale communication Boundary-spanning agents Frontline employees CSR ambassadors CSR-related training of employees Managers’ personal support 



This study was funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, Grant No. SCHO-1605/2-1.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

All authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Laura Marie Edinger-Schons
    • 1
    Email author
  • Lars Lengler-Graiff
    • 2
  • Sabrina Scheidler
    • 2
  • Jan Wieseke
    • 2
  1. 1.Chair of Corporate Social ResponsibilityMannheim UniversityMannheimGermany
  2. 2.Sales and Marketing DepartmentRuhr University of BochumBochumGermany

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