Business Ethics
A Literature Review on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Consumers’ CSR Behaviours

Understanding Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

Today, many people would not unfamiliar with Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), as discussions on it are many. While many people know about the term of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), it is also important to acknowledge that it is also sometimes referred as “corporate conscience”, “corporate responsibility”, “corporate philanthropy”, “corporate citizenship”, “social performance”, or “sustainable responsible business” (Behnaz, 2013; Robins, 2005).

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) concept was proposed in 1950s, and it keep evolving over the time which until recently it can be observed that there are alternative themes on the concept (Carroll, 1999; Jamali, Hallal & Abdallah, 2010). The many different themes on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) cause that the concept is discussed without a clear boundaries and without an agreed definition (Robins, 2005; Lawrence & Weber, 2008). Even until today, there are various ways Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) was defined (Mishra & Suar, 2010). The many themes will be shown below, so to better understand the evolvement of the concept.

CSR as the responsibility of businesses on society. Perhaps the simplest concept on CSR is the concept that a business should take care of social needs (Etang, 1994). Carroll (1999) commented that it is perhaps relevant to award Bowen (1953) as the father of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), as Bowen (1953) is the very first scholar to propose the social obligation of businesses. The very early definition of CSR by Bowen (1953) was about CSR as the “obligations of businessmen to pursue those policies, to make those decisions, or to follow those lines of action which are desirable in terms of the objectives and values of our society” (cited in Carroll, 1999; p. 270). Under this concept, CSR is about the social responsibility of a business – which to be fulfilled by a business. However, the early concept such as this is too simple. As in later years, such concepts are expanded. The expanded views on CSR are discussed in paragraphs below.

CSR as the responsibility of a firm because firm is also a social actor in the society. Then, there are also views that a business entity is a legal person. In such a view, the legal person will have the responsibility of a real person as well. Being a legal person, the companies should act morally and ethically, comply with law and being sensitive to social needs of the society (Robins, 2005). Many definitions or concepts of CSR are proposed, with the view that a firm should pursue CSR because it is also a social actor. Some of these include:

  • CSR is the decisions taken to take care of the society for reasons at least partially beyond the firm’s direct economic or technical interest (Davis, 1960, p. 70: cited in Carroll, 1999), although the CSR actions may benefit a firm either financially or non-financially in the long run. Then, Davis (1960) had actually also proposed the “Iron Law of Responsibility”. This is a view that the higher the social power possessed by a firm, the more social responsibility should be shouldered by a firm (Lawrence & Weber, 2008). Such view is also sometimes being broadened by the concept that when a firm avoid social responsibility, the social power as possessed by the firm will be gradually eroded (Carroll, 1999).
  • There are also views that CSR as the responsibility of a firm because firm are interwoven in the society. This view suggest that a firm is a not only a social actor because business and society are interwoven rather than distinct entities. As both business and society are inter-connected, firms should work for the betterment of society (Mishra & Suar, 2010). This is because when the society is hurt; there will be repercussions that exert negative effects on the firm itself.
  • Another similar view is that because a firm is a citizen of the society, firms should take social citizen’s responsibility for the betterment of the society (Chen & Wang, 2011). Under such view, the society can be considered as the neighbourhood that a firm is operating in. As such, the roles of a firm is also to do good for the neighbourhood as well as to assist in solving neighbourhood problems; beside trying to make a profit from business activities (Carroll, 1999).

 

CSR is about doing more than legal requirements. There are also viewpoints that CSR is what begin when a firm start to do more than what is required by laws and legislation (Carroll, 1999). Under this viewpoint, doing what is required by laws is the minimum standard a firm should adhere to. Then, to do more than required than legislation is about to rely on self-regulation in the execution of daily management practices (Behnaz, 2013). Therefore, a firm should try to do consider and take responsibility to shareholders, employees, suppliers and customers, even on the non-economic consequences that the firm may affect the society and the natural environment (Robins, 2005).

CSR is strategic in nature. As the debates on CSR intensifying, there are even views that treat CSR as part of strategic management of a firm. In such a view point, the CSR is something to be considered in the very early stage of strategic management of a firm, as the strategic management demand a firm to review and audit on the external environment, on the following aspects: governmental, socio-cultural, economic and competitive and so on. From considering about the relationships of a firm to the society, it is then becoming necessary for the firm to pay attentions to the social issues, and even possibly to tap into the societal related opportunities by trying to solve social problems (Ness, 1992; Manuel & Lúcia, 2006). Many scholars agreed on the importance of CSR for strategic management of a firm, and there are theories on how CSR can add value to long-term survival and profitability of companies (Adams & Zutshi, 2004), long-run profit maximization (Carroll, 1999), better recruitment and retention of employees, improved corporate image and relations with stakeholders, improved financial returns, improved internal decision-making and cost-savings (Adams & Zutshi, 2004), better corporate culture, goodwill, higher employee motivation and satisfaction, and even achievement of competitive advantage (Manuel & Lúcia, 2006; Alshareef, Sandhu & Bazhair, 2012).

It is interesting also to note that scholars also understand about the adoption of CSR will incur costs to an organisation, but the majority of them believe that such costs can be recouped in the long run; and indeed, the CSR activities will return even better profits to a firm in the longer term (Manuel & Lúcia, 2006). Apparently, under the view that CSR as strategic management efforts, many scholars had found evidences supporting such claim. This is especially when there are evidences that CSR can improve firm performance, such as in these researches: Alshareef, Sandhu & Bazhair (2012), Arnaud & Wasieleski (2014), Bayoud, Kavanagh & Slaughter (2012), Chen & Wang (2011), Sun (2012) and Zali & Sheydayaee (2013). However, such notion is however not conclusive, as there are also some other studies that found mixed results, or even evidences that CSR does not enhance firm performance, such as in: Lech (2013), Newell & Chyi (2012) and Schnietz & Epstein (2005).

CSR as marketing agenda. A similar viewpoint to seeing CSR as strategic management is about leverage on CSR for marketing purposes. In this viewpoint, CSR is required to enhance the image or reputation of a firm, as CSR can offer many marketing benefits to the firm (Etang, 1994). Some of the concepts discussed under such viewpoint include CSR image advertising, which is about to develop a positive CSR identity for a firm, so to affect the perceptions of consumers (Pomering & Johnson, 2009). Then, there are also concept arguing to use CSR to align the external and internal stakeholders of a firm, for better performance (Hildebrand, Sen & Bhattacharya, 2011).

CSR as stakeholder management. In the viewpoint from stakeholder management, CSR is about to take care of the needs of the different stakeholders. Being CSR therefore for a firm is to balance the multiplicity of interests, between shareholders, government, customers, employees, suppliers, and the community (Carroll, 1999; Mishra & Suar, 2010; Robertson & Nicholson, 1996), aside from threating all of these stakeholders ethically and responsibly (Luu, 2012). The stakeholder viewpoint on CSR means that a firm must not only pay attention to societal needs and do good for the society, but also need to ensure make money for the shareholders, as after all any firm need to has profit for sustaining the business and to answer to the needs or interests of shareholders (Freeman, 1984). Many scholars believe that this is an integrated or holistic approach to managing a business, and it is sustainable – because the different stakeholders are considered in trying to make the best possible decision for a firm (Mishra & Suar, 2010). In short, the stakeholder perspective claims for a corporate responsibility that also considers stakeholders’ contributions to the firm wealth creation process. Therefore, the firm is responsible to reduce risk and increase benefits for stakeholders at one side but to take care on a fair distribution of wealth at the other side (Sachs, Maurer, Rühli & Hoffmann, 2006).

Socially responsible consumers and socially responsible investing. Then, in the recent, years, it is also seen that scholars had also argued and push forward the idea that CSR should not be shouldered upon the businesses, but that other stakeholders such as investors and the consumers must also play a part in affecting the CSR adoption within firms and in positively shaping social fabric. Such viewpoint eventually gives rise to the concepts such as: socially responsible consumers (Roberts, 1995, Mohr, Webb & Harris, 2011; Webster, 1975) and socially responsible investing (Sakuma & Louche, 2008; Scholtens & Sievänen, 2013). The evolvement of the concepts of CSR into both socially responsible consumers (SRC) and socially responsible investing SRI) is not hard to be comprehended. This is because consumers and shareholders can significantly shape the business activities and managerial decision within a corporation. As will be discussed further, socially responsible consumers are the main topic in this dissertation, in which the research aim is to examine the CSR behaviours among the Chinese consumers in mainland China.

From the discussions above, it can be seen that the concepts of CSR has been evolving, and there are different themes on it.

Conceptual Framework on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

There are some conceptual frameworks developed by academic scholars on CSR, and reviewing these conceptual frameworks will enhance the understandings on the subjects or issues related to CSR. For such reasons, some of the conceptual frameworks developed by the different academic scholars will be presented below.

There are layers of CSR activities. Etang (1995) commented that it is useful to classify the many different types of responsibility into different layers or levels. It is believed this can make the discussion of CSR easier. Based on Etang (1995), the three levels of responsibility under CSR include: 1. direct responsibility, 2. indirect responsibility, and 3. corporate philanthropy. The higher the level the responsibility a firm is fulfilling, it suggests that the firm is actually being more proactively in taking CSR initiative. Such framework is actually quite common in literature (although other framework may be different, but they are largely similar). The separating of different layers of responsibilities is crucial; as some scholars seemed to have different viewpoints if how a firm should do in order to be considered as a socially responsible firm. For example, some scholars believed that to do business ethically by itself is considered as the adoption of CSR, while other think that a firm should engage in even non-business related philanthropic activities to be considered truly as the CSR firm (Robertson & Nicholson, 1996).

Pyramid of CSR. The viewpoint that there are many different layers of CSR is indeed further developed by Carroll (1999) into a “Pyramid of CSR”. The conceptual frameworks have similar assumption whereby the CSR initiatives of a firm have different levels. It is important for a firm to fulfil one of the bottom levels of CSR needs, before moving up the pyramid. The four layers of CSR under the conceptual framework of CSR (from most basic to most advance) are: 1. Economic responsibilities (i.e., be profitable), 2. Legal responsibilities (i.e., obey the law), 3. Ethical responsibilities (i.e., be ethical), and lastly 4. Philanthropic responsibilities (i.e., be a good corporate citizen).

The DNA code of CSR. Claydon (2011) had proposed about a CSR 2.0 model. Under the CSR model proposed, it is postulated that a firm will need to have to fulfil at least four CSR goals: 1. Economic development, 2. Institutional effectiveness, 3. Stakeholder orientation, and 4. Sustainable ecosystems. Ability of a firm to fulfil these four goals will be used to judge if a firm is effective or otherwise. The various CSR goals can be tracked by different performance indicators. For example, the “Economic development” goal can be tracked by the beneficial of products offered by a firm, and the practice of inclusive business. Yet, the “Institutional effectiveness” goal can be tracked by issues such as transparency of a firm as well as the offering of ethical products. Next, “stakeholder orientation” goals can be tracked at least by the two indicators: philanthropy and the adoption of fair labour practices. Lastly, the “Sustainable ecosystems” goal can be tracked by the following dimensions: renewable resources as well as zero-waste production.

The Feedback Model. The various conceptual frameworks on CSR above largely focus on the CSR efforts within a firm. However, that is only partial of the view on CSR, as stakeholders can also affect the CSR efforts and outcomes in a firm. For that, Kreng & May-Yao (2011) developed a feedback model on CSR that capture the relationships between CSR efforts by a firm, and how that affects other issues such as: consumer behaviours, corporate strategy and public policy. The model shows that there is a cause-effect feedback circuits are used to explore the dynamic relationships among consumer behaviour, corporate strategy, and public policy with regard to two dimensions of corporate social responsibility, i.e., 1. making a profit and 2. providing social services. Thismoel is relevant to the study in this dissertation. Based on the model, Kreng & May-Yao (2011) argued that CSR efforts by a firm can be due to three reasons: consumer behaviours driven, corporate strategy driven and public policy driven. To explain, consumer behaviours driven CSR is to adopt CSR by doing no harm to and being honest with stakeholders. Then, corporate-strategy driven CSR is about to build a business that values a culture of ethics and support, and to cater for both fulfilling missions within the enterprise, and acting as a societal model externally. Lastly, public-policy driven CSR is about using resources authorized by societies efficiently, and creating additional value for societies. This particular conceptual model is shown in Figure 1 below.

 

Figure 1: The Feedback Model of CSR

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Overall, the many conceptual framework developed by scholars were discussed. It can be noted that many of the conceptual framework actually focus on examining CSR efforts within a firm, such as to suggest how the firms can adopt CSR stages by stages, or levels by levels. However, there is also model capturing the CSR impacts on external actors, such as on consumers. That suggests relationships on CSR to consumers are critical and should be further studied. Then, it is also learned that consumer behaviours will have a feedback effects on the firm’s CSR effort as well. From a system perspective, the actions of both the firms and the consumers will interact and eventually affect the CSR adoption progress and initiative in the business world. In such a way, the study into consumer behaviours is indeed something not to be neglected.

Responsibilities of Corporations versus Responsibilities of Consumers

In earlier discussions, the early debates on CSR focus on responsibilities of firms on paying attention to meet the social needs. However, it is also seen that the debates slowly evolve to also include the roles of the consumers in influencing CSR behaviours of these firms. The argument is intuitive, as the consumers determine their purchases – and that in turn determine the survival of a firm. As such, the consumers have the power to make or fail a business. If the consumers favour over a CSR oriented firm, then more firm will be forced to take proper action to focus on CSR. It is such way that the CSR philosophy can become more widespread and adopted by the many firms in the society.

On that matter, from the corporation perspective, some of the activities that they can do for CSR purposes include the following: sponsorship, commitment to local communities, attention to environmental issues, and responsible advertising (Ness, 1992). Then, Robins (2005) also discussed that businesses should assume a major role in making the world a better place, which include: adopt socially responsible policies on labour, environmental and human rights issues. In a similar way, Mohr & Webb (2005) also commented that socially responsible firm should behave ethically, supporting the work of non-profit organisations, treating employees fairly, embrace diversity management and minimizing damage to the environment.

While these are the responsibilities of the businesses, the consumers do have some ‘should be’ responsibilities as they have the power to also affect the firms (whether to adopt CSR philosophy or otherwise). This is easily comprehended because as the consumers, how they spend money will affect the social fabric. The spending of consumers are indeed the “economic votes”, which can reward a firm, or punish a firm (Roberts, 1995). If the consumers largely punish those firms that are irresponsible, then it would be easy that those irresponsible firms can be wiped out in a short period of time. In such a way, consumers shall spend their money wisely as to also help save the environment; not to mention about to also improve the society (Kreng & May-Yao, 2011; Mohr, Webb & Harris, 2001; Smith & Williams, 2011).

Given that argument, it is clear now that consumers do also play a role in the shaping of CSR efforts of businesses. The arguments do also support the “feedback model of CSR” as discussed in the earlier section. In order to better understand the relevant issues on how consumers may affect CSR, and vice versa; more studies will be presented in the next section.

Consumer Behaviours and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

As discussed earlier, consumer behaviours can affect CSR; as consumers have the ‘economic voting power’ to determine the prosperity and profitability of a business (which is arguably the main concerns for most of the managers). A review of the literature on such matters indeed found that scholars had acknowledged such issue and had conducted some studies into such topic; although the study on such issues are still very limited (for example, as compared to issues such as socially responsible investing).

The socially conscious consumers. The literature on consumer behaviours and CSR can be discussed from variety of perspective. For example, the discussions can be about the percentage of socially conscious consumers, of which such group of consumers are conscious about the need to attend to social needs and environmental concerns, and they realise about their roles in shaping firms’ CSR behaviours (Mohr, Webb & Harris, 2001; Brown, 2011). As discussed in Roberts (1995), there is only around 8% to 20% of the population that are actually socially conscious consumers. Nevertheless, Roberts (1995) believe that social consciousness is on the rise – indicating that more consumers are becoming more concerns on CSR related matters (which will be a good push and pressure on firms to adopt CSR).

Defining socially responsible consumer (SRC) and socially responsible consumer behaviours (SRCB). Roberts (1995) defined both the two concepts of socially responsible consumer (SRC) and socially responsible consumer behaviours (SRCB) as follow. Socially responsible consumer is someone whom purchases products and services which he or she perceives to have a positive (or less negative) impact on the society or uses his or her purchasing power to express current social concerns. Yet, the concept of socially responsible consumer behaviours is those consumer behaviours that take into account the impact on the society of private consumption decisions or which use purchasing power to express current social concerns. In other words, the consumers that exhibit socially responsible consumer behaviours are those that will think about the CSR efforts or adoption of the sellers – before they buy from a particular seller. Those socially responsible consumers are supposed to refuse to purchase from those sellers that are irresponsible and thereby exerting their economic voting power to influence the business landscape.

Having discussed above, it can be seen that those socially conscious consumers are likely to be the socially responsible consumers, that make their purchase with a conscious focus on how that will affect the society well-being and the natural environments. They exhibit behaviours that are supposed to affect the business activities and strategies of the firms exist within a society. In the next few paragraphs, some of the studies available will be presented.

Research on Consumer Behaviours and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

There are some researches into CSR and consumer behaviours. Some fo these studies will be presented as follow.

Research on how CSR affect consumers. Mohr & Webb (2005) had conducted a study to examine how corporate social responsibility and price may affect consumer responses. The CSR activities conducted by firms included in this survey include CSR on these two dimensions: environment and philanthropy. Based on the study, it is found that companies that adopt CSR both from environment and philanthropy point of view can exert positive and significant impacts on consumer evaluation on products offered by that company, as well as the purchase intention of the consumers towards the products offered by those companies.

Wigley (2008) research into the effects of consumers’ knowledge on CSR efforts of a firm towards the consumers’ attitudes and purchase intention. It is found that consumers exposed to information about the CSR activities of a firm are more knowledgeable about those activities and that increased knowledge positively affect both attitudes and purchase intentions among the consumers.

Lee & Shin (2010) examine about the relationship between consumer awareness of CSR activities and their purchase intentions. Through the use of questionnaire survey on Korean consumers, it is found that consumer awareness of CSR activities are related to their purchase intentions. However, not all CSR activities exhibit positive impacts in affecting consumers’ purchase intention, as corporate social contribution and local community contribution affect consumers’ purchase intention while corporate environmental protection and contribution have no effects on consumers’ purchase intention.

Matute-Vallejo, Bravo & Pina (2011) had examined about how customers’ perceptions of firms’ CSR and fairness in their pricing strategy determine customers’ behaviour as users of financial services. It is found that both CSR and price fairness are significant in affecting customer loyalty, albeit that relationships are mediated by customer satisfaction and commitment.

Raman, Wayne & Nair (2012) had studied about the linkages between CSR efforts from firms to consumer loyalty. From the study, it is found that the higher the practice of CSR the stronger is the consumer loyalty towards a particular firm. In a way, the adoption of CSR practices can contribute to competitive edge of a company.

Loureiro, Dias Sardinha & Reijnders (2012) had studies about the consumers’ perceptions on CSR efforts on Portuguese firms and how that affects the satisfaction of the consumers. It is found that CSR performance of a firm can indeed affect consumers’ satisfaction. However, more specifically, the CSR performance of a firm in terms of environmental performance is more powerful in affecting consumer satisfaction as compared to the CSR activities related to labour practices and community development. Nevertheless, it is also found that perceived product and service quality and empathy with the brand, were much more influential in affecting the satisfaction of Portuguese consumers than CSR.

Last but not least, Lii, Wu & Ding (2013) also examined about the impacts of different forms of CSR initiatives (which include: sponsorship, cause-related marketing, and philanthropy) on consumer evaluations on a firm. It is found that philanthropy was found to have a stronger effect on consumer evaluations, followed by sponsorship and cause-related marketing.

Research on how consumers perceive CSR. The perceptions of consumers on CSR related issues are not a hot topic being focused by researchers. Given the limited amount of studies on this particular area, this dissertation will attempt to add further valuable findings to inform such area.  Anyway, one of the previous studies available on these areas will be discussed here. Arli, Bucic, Harris & Lasmono (2014) had studied about the consumers perceptions on importance of CSR in Indonesia (a developing country). It is argued that socially responsible consumer behaviours are becoming more widespread in the developed world but such consume behaviours are unknown in many of the developing world. Anyway, based on the study carried out, they found that despite the country-based differences, Indonesian college students express perceptions of CSR similar to those of consumers in developed countries. Interestingly, it is also found that female consumers have stronger intentions to support ethical products than their male counterparts.

Growing scepticism. It is important to also understand that given that the CSR activities conducted by a firm may affect the consumers, some companies resort to CSR to purely influence the consumers, rather than to act truly in a socially responsible manner (Gonzalez, Ling & Glantz, 2012; Bond, 2008). Indeed, that had also contributed to a trend of consumer scepticism on marketing claims by a firm (Yeo Jung & Wei-Na, 2009).

Overall, it can be seen that most of the research on CSR and consumer behaviours focus on how CSR may affect consumer behaviours. However, there are few studies on how consumers actually exhibiting socially responsible consumer behaviours. Given that there are also voices that consumers are growing sceptical on corporate marketing (especially the use of CSR purely to manipulate the consumers), such areas indeed deserve more research into it (which will be cover within this dissertation). Anyway, there are also some research related to CSR and consumer behaviours in China, and these materials will be presented below.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Research in China

In recent decade many indigenous corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives have emerged in China – and that deserves an analysis of the CSR development in China (Li-Wen, 2010; Chen & Wang, 2011). Indeed, such development is also consistent with the Chinese government agenda to promote local businesses to implement CSR programmes (Levine, 2008; Brody, 2003). Fortunately, there are still some studies on CSR related issues in China, despite such volume of studies are limited, given the size of the economy of China. Some of such studies will be presented below.

Research on how CSR affect consumers. First of all, similar to the situation as discussed earlier, majority of the scholarly studies focus on how CSR efforts may affect consumer behaviours in China. Some of these studies are as follow.

Chen & Wang (2011) studied about CSR efforts by businesses in China and the impacts to corporate financial performance. From the perspective as CSR as stakeholder management, and through the use of data collected in 2007 and 2008 from Chinese firms to explore the relationship between CSR and corporate financial performance; it is found that companies’ social responsibility activity can improve their financial performances of the current year, have significant effects on their financial performances of the next year, and vice versa. Such finding found that the relationships between CSR efforts by businesses in China and the impacts to corporate financial performance in China are similar to the situations in the western counterparts.

Li, Zhang, Mao & Min (2012) had also investigated about the consumer perception of CSR in China’s sports lottery industry, and the effect of perceived CSR initiatives on sports lottery consumption behaviour. It is found that perceived CSR efforts can affect consumer purchase behaviours, from these dimensions: relative and absolute expenditure, purchasing frequency, and time commitment.

However, in a study conducted by Xun (2013), the impacts of CSR efforts by global firms operating in China towards their respective financial performance were investigated. It is found that these firms adopt a preferential stakeholder model using government-aimed and consumer-aimed CSR strategically can enhance the financial performance (from their respective CSR efforts). Apparently, government play a part in affecting CSR results in China.

Yet, in Cai & Aguilar (2013), it is examined about the impacts of disclosed level of CSR on consumers’ stated wood product purchasing preferences; with a comparisons of consumer behaviours among the consumers from China and United States. were more likely to choose products from manufacturing companies with a higher level of CSR rating compared with an unknown one – supporting the claim that CSR can contribute to positive consumers outcomes in China.

Research on consumers’ perceptions and attitudes on CSR. The survey on the issues related to if Chinese consumers emphasize on CSR, how they perceive CSR, or their CSR behaviours are limited and seriously lacking (which make it to be important for such issues to be addressed in this dissertation). One study was on such issue was found. In Kong (2012), it is studied about both consumers and investors’ perceptions on importance of CSR of listed firms in food industry – upon the melamine contamination incident in China as an exogenous shock. Based on the study, it is found that there is indeed a mounting attention given to CSR-related events – of which to a certain extent demand managers within the food industry to deploy or strengthen their respective CSR initiatives.

Overall, it can be seen that research into CSR and consumer related issues are gaining more momentum in recent few years. However, studies on consumer CSR behaviours, how consumer perceive CSR and how consumers perceive the responsibilities of the companies are still lacking, despite that corporate fraud such as the event of melamine contamination incident in China is driving greater concerns of CSR in the nation. Indeed, such lack of studies on this area demands the study in this dissertation to address such issues. The research methodology to address such issues will be discussed in the next chapter.

Summary of the Literature Review

Overall, this chapter had discussed on the evolving concepts of CSR, and until recent years the increasing extension of CSR concepts into the notion that other stakeholders, such as investors and consumers do play some roles in affecting CSR behaviours among the firms. Among some of the conceptual framework developed by scholars, there are also modelling on how CSR efforts may affect consumer behaviours and vice versa. It is discussed that the research on consumer CSR behaviours are indeed important, given that the consumers have the economic voting rights and power to influence the business landscape. Empirical evidences on CSR efforts by firms towards affecting consumers’ perceptions, attitudes and behaviours are also discussed. Majority of the studies are concerning how CSR efforts may affect consumers; but very few studies are on how the consumers actually perceive CSR efforts or CSR related issues. Indeed, such phenomenon is also similar in the context of CSR research in the context of China. Such lack of research on this particular area will be addressed in this dissertation, as the lack of research in this area should be paid relevant attention given that the consumers have the power to affect business landscape and that there are inter-related influences between consumer CSR behaviours and corporations’ CSR efforts. With such findings in mind, the next chapter will proceed to discuss more about the research methodology to be employed in the process of executing this study.

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