Corporate Social Responsibility and Competitive Advantage: Overcoming the Trust Barrier

48 Pages Posted: 14 Oct 2010 Last revised: 28 Nov 2014

Shuili Du

Simmons College

CB Bhattacharya

European School of Management and Technology (ESMT)

Sankar Sen

City University of New York (CUNY) - Department of Marketing and International Business

Date Written: October 11, 2010

Abstract

This research builds on the complementary corporate social responsibility (CSR) literatures in strategy and marketing to provide insight into the efficacy of CSR as a challenger’s competitive weapon against a market leader. Through an investigation of a real world CSR initiative, we show that the challenger can reap superior business returns among consumers who had participated in its CSR initiative, relative to those who were merely aware of the initiative. Specifically, participant consumers demonstrate the desired attitudinal and behavioral changes in favor of the challenger, regardless of their affective trust in the leader, whereas aware consumers’ reactions become less favorable as their affective trust in the leader increases. Furthermore, participation, unlike mere awareness, transforms the nature of the consumer-challenger relationship from a transactional one to a communal, trust-based one.

Keywords: corporate social responsibility, competitive strategy, challenger brand, affective trust

Suggested Citation

Du, Shuili and Bhattacharya, CB and Sen, Sankar, Corporate Social Responsibility and Competitive Advantage: Overcoming the Trust Barrier (October 11, 2010). ESMT Working Paper No. 10-006. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1690423

Shuili Du

Simmons College ( email )

300 The Fenway
Boston, MA 02115
United States

Chitrabhanu Bhattacharya (Contact Author)

European School of Management and Technology (ESMT) ( email )

Schlossplatz 1
10117 Berlin
Germany

Sankar Sen

City University of New York (CUNY) - Department of Marketing and International Business ( email )

One Bernard Baruch Way, B12-240
New York, NY 10010-5585
United States

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