The role of message specificity in corporate social responsibility communication

Stefanie Robinson, Meike Eilert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Companies vary in how they communicate their corporate social responsibility (CSR) endeavors, either reporting the specific causes supported (e.g., “We support the American Lung Association, Kidney Foundation, and Multiple Sclerosis Society”) or mentioning the issue in general (e.g., “We support advancing health”). This study investigates which message strategy (general or specific) is more effective and shows that when companies donate to a single issue (e.g., health), a specific rather than a general message strategy produces more positive evaluations. This is because consumers trust companies more when they communicate their cause support with more specificity. However, when a company donates to a diverse set of issues (e.g., health, environment, and education), a boundary condition to the effect occurs. This research has important implications for managers' decisions on how best to advertise their CSR efforts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)260-268
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Business Research
StatePublished - Sep 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Elsevier Inc.


  • Cause portfolios
  • Corporate social responsibility
  • Message specificity
  • Message strategy
  • Trust

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Marketing


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