AbstractsBusiness Management & Administration

The Relationship between Corporate Philanthropy and Corporate Reputation: Examining the Consumer-Company-Cause Triad

by Ilona Szöcs

Institution: Vienna University of Economics and Business
Year: 2013
Keywords: RVK QP 150, QP 323; corporate social responsibility / corporate philanthropy / corporate reputation / business ethics / consumer behavior
Record ID: 1031776
Full text PDF: http://epub.wu.ac.at/3906/1/02.06._FINAL_Dissertation_Ilona.pdf


Although studies in scholarly journals suggest that corporate philanthropic activities may enhance corporate reputation, little systematic research on this effect exists. In fact, our knowledge of consumer responses to corporate philanthropic initiatives is limited. While corporate success relies on the support of customers, business benefits from corporate generosity - such as improved corporate reputation - are lacking. This dissertation investigates consumer perceptions of corporate philanthropy. Specifically, it explores the congruence among consumer perceptions of different philanthropic cause types, their geographical deployment, and the company-cause fit. Moreover, it aims to provide an understanding of the link between corporate philanthropy and corporate reputation by highlighting the role of ethnocentrism in shaping this relationship. The empirical research draws on balance theory, the sociological concept of ethnocentrism, and cultural dimensions to provide a framework and model for the relationship between consumer Attitudes toward Corporate Philanthropy and Customer-based Corporate Reputation. I employ three methodological approaches (interpretive, experimental, and survey-based) to investigate three sets of research questions. Firstly, an exploratory design is employed to uncover consumer and corporate perceptions of corporate philanthropy. Secondly, an experimental design is used to shed light on consumer evaluations of different corporate philanthropic causes and their dimensions by testing three propositions. Finally, a survey design is applied to test six hypotheses, and consequently to provide an understanding of the link between corporate philanthropy and corporate reputation in two distinct cultural contexts. The latter consists of two large-scale surveys in which two leading telecommunication companies, one in Austria and one in Egypt, are examined. Data is analyzed by applying qualitative computing, nonparametric tests, regression analyses, and structural equation modeling. Three consumer views emerge from the interviews: egoistic, altruistic, and pragmatic. The corporate view, in contrast, is largely of strategic nature (i.e. gaining sustainable competitive advantage by means of responsible management). Some weak ethnocentric tendencies appear in terms of consumer preferences for domestic philanthropic support as opposed to distant support. Furthermore, findings point toward congruence in the perceived importance of social causes by consumers, with health-related causes favored most and art-related causes least. The geographical focus of corporate philanthropy (i.e. domestic versus distant) is perceived differently for the education-related cause across all seven industries examined in the experiment. For other causes, however, such as health- or environment-related causes, a significant difference is found in the oil and consulting industries, respectively. This indicates that consumers' evaluation of corporate philanthropic activities is partially dependent on the geographical focus.…