All Hands on Deck Special Session: Cultivating Socially Responsible Consumers and Corporations: An Abstract
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In this consumption-driven economy, consumers and companies, and by extension employees, must collaborate to ensure that consumption activities would contribute to societal well-being. Social responsibility is defined as stakeholders’ values, expectations, and practices that emphasize the responsibility of individuals as a member in society (Aguinis and Glavas 2011; Pigor and Rockenbach 2016). Corporate social responsibility refers to “obligations to take action to protect and improve both the welfare of society as a whole and the interest of organizations” (Davis and Blomstrom 1975: 6). By the same token, consumer social responsibility refers to consumer decisions which are driven by socially responsible motives rather than the individual’s own self-interest (Devinney et al. 2010; Öberseder et al. 2011). While the goal of social responsibility is to improve societal well-being, extant socially responsibility research has identified positive consequences of such actions for both consumers and companies as well. On the one hand, companies would be perceived as more trustworthy and in turn enhance evaluation of their product quality and brand image (Dacin and Brown 1997; Klein and Dawar 2004; Smith et al 1994). On the other hand, consumers would gain a better sense of self and improve self-image through moral licensing (Khan and Dhar 2006; Mazar and Zhong 2010).
In this special session, the speakers examine social responsibility through the consumer, employee, and management lens. In doing so, we hope to extend our understanding of social responsibility with respect to its theoretical conceptualization and underpinnings as well as social and managerial implications. Moreover, we address some of the unanswered questions in this field of research. We first examine how consumers’ moral emotions (i.e., guilt and shame) may influence consumers’ decision towards socially responsible consumption choices. In this regard, it illuminates an affective mechanism through which consumers decide on whether or not to make socially responsible consumption. While both guilt and shame are negative affects, our study found that they have divergent effects on socially responsible consumption. Next, we propose a double mediation model that delineates how company’s corporate social responsibility climate may attenuate employee cynicism and enhance work meaning which would turn employees into brand ambassadors. As such, it extends extant corporate social responsibility research, which looked at employees’ affective commitment to and identification with the organization, to show that corporate social responsibility can enhance work experience for individuals. Finally, we consider the philosophical roots of corporate social responsibility though Confucianism, a Chinese philosophy that has been widely adopted in cultural and management research. Building on brand personality literature, this paper suggests that a socially responsible corporation can be personified as an individual who possesses virtuous qualities and puts others’ interest in front of self-interest.