Consumer Perceptions of CSR: (How) Is China Different?

International Marketing Review, Forthcoming

36 Pages Posted: 18 Oct 2014

See all articles by Ans Kolk

Ans Kolk

University of Amsterdam Business School

Willemijn van Dolen

University of Amsterdam Business School

Leiming Ma


Date Written: October 16, 2014


Despite large interest in CSR in China, the role of consumers has been underexplored in empirical research, with studies mainly focused on specific subcomponents of CSR, based on evidence from small, urban samples. Using a country-wide consumer survey, this article examines 1) how Chinese consumers perceive the underlying components of CSR found in Western countries; 2) whether their CSR expectations differ for local Chinese firms compared to foreign firms; and 3) whether results differ across regions. Findings show that the originally Western CSR construct seems generalizable to China, but consumers across all regions perceive two rather than four components: one combining economic and legal responsibilities (‘required CSR’) and another combining ethical and philanthropic responsibilities (‘expected CSR’). Consumers expect local Chinese firms to take more responsibility than foreign firms, particularly for required CSR. Only in a few regions were local and foreign firms expected to take similar levels of responsibility for some aspects. The article discusses possible explanations, future research areas, and implications for practice.

Keywords: corporate social responsibility, China, consumers, multinationals, domestic firms, regional differences

JEL Classification: D12, D21, F23, H7, G38, M14, M3, M31, L23, P2, R23

Suggested Citation

Kolk, Ans and Dolen, Willemijn van and Ma, Leiming, Consumer Perceptions of CSR: (How) Is China Different? (October 16, 2014). International Marketing Review, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN:

Ans Kolk (Contact Author)

University of Amsterdam Business School ( email )

Plantage Muidergracht 12
Amsterdam, 1018 TV
+31 20 525 4289 (Phone)
+31 20 525 5281 (Fax)


Willemijn van Dolen

University of Amsterdam Business School ( email )


Leiming Ma

Independent ( email )

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics