CSR types and the moderating role of corporate competence

Published: 26 April 2018

Authors: Xiaoye Chen, Rong Huang, Zhiyong Yang, Laurette Dube

Publication: European Journal of Marketing, Forthcoming



This paper aims to investigate the impact of different types of corporate social responsibility (CSR; i.e. value-creating CSR, promotional CSR and philanthropic CSR) on consumer responses and the moderating role of corporate competence.


The authors tested the hypotheses by using two empirical studies – a survey and an experimental study. The evidence is generated based on generalized linear model repeated-measures ANOVAs for the survey study and two-way factorial ANOVAs for the experimental study.


The findings show that in general, consumers respond to value-creating CSR more favorably than to philanthropic CSR or promotional CSR. In addition, corporate competence moderates consumers’ responses to different types of CSR in such a way that promotional CSR is more likely to have the desired effects when carried out by low-competency rather than by high-competency firms, whereas value-creating CSR is more effective for high-competency firms than for low-competency ones. Philanthropic CSR works equally in both types of firms.

Research limitations/implications

This research answers a long-term call to study the differential consumer effects of various CSR types. It also identifies perceived corporate competence, an important consumer-based corporate factor, as a potential moderator of consumers’ response to CSR types.

Practical implications

Armed with the findings, companies can choose CSR practices that fit with their company characteristics. This research offers important and specific managerial implications to firms with different company profiles on their CSR choices.


Given that today’s managers are faced with the challenge of selecting desirable CSR activities from a group of options, the authors answered the call by studying the differential effects of a wide array of CSR choices and provide important practical guidance to managers. For the first time in the literature, the study also investigates the potential interactive effects between specific CSR types and corporate competence on consumer reactions. This inquiry bears significant relevance to the ongoing discussions concerning whether and how company characteristics generate influences on the outcomes of CSR strategies.


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