University of Twente Student Theses


The effects of CSR fit and message framing in times of a corporate crisis

Lentferink, L.R.M. (2018) The effects of CSR fit and message framing in times of a corporate crisis.

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Abstract:Since last decade, CSR is at the forefront of corporate consciousness. Particular organizations in questionable industries seem to use CSR as a buffer against the negative effects of a crisis. Nevertheless, little research has been conducted into the use and effects of CSR initiatives in times of an organizational crisis. This study examines how CSR initiatives and message framing can be optimally used during a crisis. The influences of CSR fit, crisis type and message framing on specific consumer attitudes including attitude, trust, credibility, (non)skepticism and forgiveness were examined. A 2 (CSR fit: high vs. low) x 2 (crisis situation: accidental vs. preventable) x 2 (message framing: rational vs. emotional) between-subjects experimental design based on fictional scenarios was used. A survey among 340 respondents was conducted. Respondents were randomly assigned to one of the eight conditions. Not surprisingly, results revealed that preventable crisis situations have led to more negative consumer attitudes compared to accidental crisis situations. Furthermore, crisis responses with emotional framed messages generally had a more positive influence on consumer attitudes compared to crisis responses with a rational framing method included. Consumer attitudes were most negative when companies with a high CSR fit in a preventable crisis situation used a rational framing method. On the other hand, when organizations in accidental crisis situations used an emotional appeal regardless of their CSR fit, consumer attitudes were most positive. Findings indicate that organizations with a high CSR fit in preventable crisis situations should use emotional framing methods to increase attitude, non-skepticism and forgiveness. On the other hand, organizations in accidental crisis situations regardless of their fit, should use an emotional message framing in order to increase attitude, credibility, non-skepticism (non-skepticism applies just for low CSR fit organizations) and forgiveness. The current research can serve as a guideline for organizations to choose an appropriate framing strategy during a given crisis situation which suits their CSR fit.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:05 communication studies
Programme:Communication Studies MSc (60713)
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