Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 157, Issue 2, pp 431–446 | Cite as

Let Me Make It Up to You: Understanding the Mitigative Ability of Corporate Social Responsibility Following Product Recalls

  • David NoackEmail author
  • Douglas R. Miller
  • Dustin Smith
Original Paper


The corporate social responsibility (CSR) literature recognizes that firms’ existing CSR reputation can serve as a safeguard from the impact of reputation-damaging events (e.g., product recalls) on a firm’s social legitimacy. However, the literature has yet to focus on the extent to which CSR activities can help mitigate such damage, post-event. This article examines how a firm’s social actions following a product recall facilitate the recovery of its diminished social legitimacy. We test our predictions using a sample of 197 product recalls involving 168 publicly traded corporations from 1999 to 2009 and demonstrate that the speed of the CSR response, the frequency of CSR activities, and the intensity of CSR activities have a significant effect on firm recovery following crisis. The effects were most pronounced in instances where the magnitude of the recall was most severe. The visibility of the recall has a limited impact on post-event recovery. We discuss our contributions to research on strategic CSR and recovery.


Corporate social responsibility Product recalls Recovery Social legitimacy Strategic action 



This study did not receive any type of funding, from any individuals or public or private entities.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

There are no conflicts of interest with this study, as no funding or grants were received or used for purposes of this study.

Ethical approval

No animals or humans were used or studied for the purpose of this research. All data were obtained from secondary database sources.

Informed consent

Not applicable to this study. No animals or humans were used or studied for the purpose of this research.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Weber State UniversityOgdenUSA
  2. 2.Virginia Commonwealth UniversityRichmondUSA
  3. 3.Webster UniversityWebster GrovesUSA

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