Consumer Social Responsibility: Toward a Comprehensive Index
12 Pages Posted: 5 Oct 2014
Date Written: October 4, 2014
Socially responsible purchasing is the desire to express social and environmental concerns through purchasing choices. Although research in the area of consumers’ social responsibility is continually growing, a wide range of studies in this area has been carried out in developed countries while limited theoretical and applied researches have been conducted in developing countries (Chen & Kong, 2009). I should be also noted that the developing countries face different issues and concerns compared with the developed countries. Researchers have developed numerous scales to measure socially responsible purchasing research in this area; however, in spite of a multi-dimensional look at this concept in most scales, none of them covers a wide range of social issues at various stages of before, during, and after the purchase. In addition, differences in economic, social, legal, and cultural development of each country can make different dimensions in the area of social responsibility which requires the identification of factors involved.
On the other hand, due to the multi-dimensional and dynamic nature of the concept, it is necessary to implement and monitor social responsibility over time. Therefore, the purpose of the current study was to identify the dimensions and elements involved in the social responsibility of consumers and also to develop a comprehensive measure of social responsibility of consumers. In order to achieve the goal of the study, which was to identify the involved factors in the buyers’/consumers’ social responsibility, a qualitative study conducted through an in-depth interview with a group of consumers and experts. During the interview process, all violations of social responsibility as well as important issues to achieve sustainable development were discussed. The main factors involved in emerging social responsibility were identified through the results of the analysis done on the interview contents which in turn, formed a questionnaire. Content validity of the designed questionnaire was examined by the experts in the area of consuming behaviours and its face validity was reviewed and approved by a number of customers.
The questionnaire was then administered in a pilot group and a satisfactory reliability of the questionnaire was obtained via Cronbach's alpha coefficient (0.94). The questionnaire was administered among 253 customers in two branches of a giant chain store. Exploratory factor analysis was applied to detect the validity of the designed scale which identified the main dimensions of social responsibility. Exploratory factor analysis was performed using the principal components and Varimax rotation. The results of the factor analysis showed five factors with eigenvalue greater than one, which could explain totally, 43.169% of the variance of social responsibility. Those are the environmental, health, cultural-national, legal, and ethical dimensions.
The final version of the designed scale containing 43 items can be considered as a comprehensive scale in the context of social responsibility that entails the entire process of pre-buying, while buying, consuming, and withdrawing products. It might be used as a comprehensive scale to examine the behaviour of socially responsible consumers particularly in developing countries. On the other hand, dimensions detected for consumers' social responsibility determine the areas to enable managers in order to develop strategies in line with identified factors in order to align with social desires of customers and promote their social responsibility practices.
Keywords: Consumer purchase behavior, Consumer social responsibility, Multi-dimensional scale of responsible consumption
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