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Title: The linkage between CSR beliefs and ethical behaviour and its influences on consumer attitudes towards the retail sector in the UK
Author: Gronfula, Auhud Ghazi M.
ISNI:       0000 0004 7658 6538
Awarding Body: Brunel University London
Current Institution: Brunel University
Date of Award: 2018
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The relationship between corporate social responsibility (CSR) and consumer attitudes has been investigated in previous research; however, empirically there is no studies deliberate the role of consumer ethics in order to achieve the CSR, that is, to achieve greater CSR, there is a need to be accompanied with consumer ethics. Therefore, the emergence of consumer ethical behaviour has brought a new perspective to determining the influences of CSR on consumer attitudes. Based on The Theory of Planned Behaviour and Vitell-Hunt theory, this study aims to examine the link between CSR and consumer ethical behaviour, and its influences on consumer attitudes. In order to address the aim, this study explores the relationship between CSR from the philanthropic perspective, and consumers' ethical behaviour. It also determines the extent to which CSR affects brand trust and consumer affective behavioural attitudes. Finally, it examines the role of consumers' ethical behaviour in influencing consumers' attitudes alongside CSR. To address these objectives, this study adopted positivism research philosophy, using a quantitative survey method. The data were collected from consumers who make purchases from the retail sector in the UK. A self-administered questionnaire was developed based on the previous literature. Then, 500 questionnaires were distributed, of which 350 were completed and used for the final analysis. Multivariate analysis was employed, with the questionnaires analysed using a covariance-based structural equation modelling (SEM) approach. The findings reveal that as hypothesized, CSR 'philanthropy' is significantly associated with consumer ethical behaviour; however, this study reveals a negative relationship between them. This study also hypothesized that philanthropic retailers have an influence on (a) consumer affective attitudes and (b) consumer behavioural attitudes. This study does not support the hypothesized relationship between philanthropy and (a) consumer affective attitudes or (b) consumer behavioural attitudes. However, the study identifies a positive relationship between philanthropy and brand trust. Consumers' ethical behaviour is not statistically significantly related to brand trust or consumer affective attitudes. However, the relationship between consumer ethical behaviour and consumer behavioural attitudes is found to be statistically significant. Moreover, the study demonstrates a positive relationship between brand trust and consumer behavioural attitudes, and that consumer affective attitudes mediate this relationship. This study offers a number of theoretical contributions to the literature on CSR and consumer ethics. First, the important contribution lies in the attempt to explore the relationship between CSR and consumers' ethical behaviour. This study unexpectedly, discovers the negative relationship between CSR and consumers' ethical behaviour. The possible explanation is that when consumers perceive the company to behave philanthropically, they are less likely to evaluate themselves as ethical because they may attribute their ethical behaviour to the company's perceived philanthropic behaviours. This study further highlights the positive relationship between consumers' ethical behaviour and their behavioural attitude. The second contribution lies in the relationship between CSR and consumers' responses. In line with previous studies (e.g. Willmott 2003; Hustvedt 2014; Singh et al. 2012), this study concurs that CSR positively affects consumers' brand trust. However, the relationship between CSR and consumers' attitudes is not statistically significant. Instead, this study highlights the important role of brand trust; that is, based on this finding, brand trust is the key driver of both consumers' affective and behaviour attitudes. Third, this study discovers the partially mediating role of consumers' affective attitude on the link between brand trust and behavioural attitude; which seems to be an essential sub-process regulating the effect of brand trust on consumer behavioural attitudes. This study also has practical implications. Firstly, retailers are recommended to effectively communicate their philanthropic activities to consumers in order to enhance their brand trust. It is particularly important that they also aim at influencing consumers' trust in their brand because it is the brand trust that would positively affect their purchasing decision. The final recommendation is that management should focus their CSR communication on the ethical consumer segment because ethical consumers show strong intention to purchase from a socially responsible company.
Supervisor: Ali, M. ; Yen, D. ; Punjaisri, K. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Philanthropy ; Corporate social responsibility ; Consumer ethics ; Consumer behaviour ; Brand trust