Consumer Social Responsibility : Toward a Multi-Level, Multi-Agent Conceptualization of the “Other CSR”

Journal of Business Ethics 121 (4):577-592 (2014)
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Abstract

Despite considerable debate as to what corporate social responsibility is, consumer social responsibility, as an important force for CSR :19–45, 2005), is a term that remains largely unexplored and under-theorized. To better conceive the role consumers play in activating CSR, this paper provides a multi-level, multi-agent conceptualization of CnSR. Integrating needs-based models of decision making with justice theory, the article interpretively develops the reasons why variously positioned agents leverage consumers as a force for corporate social responsibility. The paper theoretically expands currently limited conceptions of CnSR by exploring the levels at which diverse agents engage with CnSR and the needs driving these agents. The paper suggests that the so-called “consumer side of CSR” is contingent upon the presence, absence, and varying intensities of underlying agent needs. Academic and managerial implications are drawn in the paper’s conclusion.

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