Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 82, Issue 2, pp 339–352 | Cite as

An Ethical Framework for the Marketing of Corporate Social Responsibility



Purpose The purpose of this paper is to develop an ethical framework for the marketing of corporate social responsibility. Methods The approach is a conceptual one based on virtue ethics and on the corporate identity literature. Furthermore, empirical research results are used to describe the opportunities and pitfalls of using marketing communication tools in the strategy of building a virtuous corporate brand. Results/conclusions An ethical framework that addresses the paradoxical relation between the consequentialist perspective many proponents of the marketing of CSR adopt, and ethical perspectives which criticize an exclusive profit-oriented approach to CSR. Furthermore, three CSR strategies in relation to the marketing of CSR are discussed. For each CSR strategy it is explored how a corporation could avoid falling into the promise/performance gap.


ethical branding virtue ethics marketing ethics corporate social responsibility 


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The author would like to thank Ronald Jeurissen, Patrick Murphy, Johan Graafland, Wim Dubbink, Mandy Bosma, Corrie Mazereeuw- van der Duijn Schouten, Jeffery Smith, and the special issue editors for their helpful comments on earlier versions of this paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Tilburg UniversityTilburgThe Netherlands

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