Corporate social responsibility: a corporate marketing perspective Diogo Hildebrand and Sankar Sen
Zicklin School of Business, Baruch College, City University of New York, New York, New York, USA, and
Corporate social responsibility
European School of Management and Technology, Berlin, Germany Abstract
Purpose – The main goal of this paper is to provide an integrative understanding of corporate social responsibility (CSR) from a corporate marketing perspective, highlighting the critical role of CSR in effective corporate marketing strategies. Design/methodology/approach – The paper is conceptual and draws on the social identiﬁcation, organisational identity and corporate marketing literatures from the European and US schools of thought. Findings – The paper integrates and builds on extant thinking in corporate marketing and CSR to provide an identity-based conceptualization of CSR. Based on this, it positions CSR as an optimal managerial tool for promoting alignment between multiple corporate identities (e.g. internal, external), which ultimately leads to key beneﬁts for the company. Originality/value – The paper is the ﬁrst to highlight the unique role of CSR in being able to align multiple corporate identities. Furthermore, the paper threads together diverse perspectives on corporate identity and marketing to highlight the potential role of CSR in effective corporate marketing. Keywords Corporate social responsibility, Corporate marketing, Corporate identity, Europe, Consumer-company identiﬁcation, Identity alignment, Marketing strategy, United States of America Paper type Research paper
Introduction In recent years, few notions have so totally captured the global corporate consciousness as the twin ideas of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability. While both ideas have followed somewhat parallel evolutionary paths, they have converged to convey a uniﬁed sense that a company’s long term success, and sometimes even existence (Vaaland et al., 2008), is inextricably tied to its stewardship of not just its own well-being but also that of the natural and social environment in which it operates. This has led more and more forward-thinking companies to take a strategic approach to CSR, devoting unprecedented efforts and resources to creating Sankar Sen is very grateful to the Sasin Graduate Institute of Business Administration of Chulalongkorn University, where he was a visiting scholar during the time this paper was completed. European Journal of Marketing Vol. 45 No. 9/10, 2011 pp. 1353-1364 q Emerald Group Publishing Limited 0309-0566 DOI 10.1108/03090561111151790
and maximizing what Porter and Kramer (2011) in their Harvard Business Review article have called “shared value” (i.e. value for the company and for society). Some notable efforts aside (e.g. Sen and Bhattacharya, 2001; Balmer et al., 2007; Fukukawa et al., 2007; Simmons, 2009; Maignan and Ferrell, 2004), conceptual questions persist about the relationships between a company, its stakeholders and its CSR, and, in particular, how these three entities come together to create that often elusive shared value (Balmer et al., 2007). In this commentary, we take a corporate marketing perspective on CSR to disentangle these aforementioned links, presenting a model of stakeholder reactions to CSR that furthers our extant thinking on the role and place of CSR in the modern corporation. At the heart of the strategic approach to CSR is the central and ascendant role of the stakeholder (Fukukawa et al., 2007; Galbreath, 2008; Vaaland et al., 2008; Polonsky and Jevons, 2009). Speciﬁcally, companies are increasingly interpreting CSR in terms of the interests of a speciﬁc but large and diverse set of stakeholder groups (e.g. consumers, employees, investors, communities,...