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How Sustainability Ratings Might Deter "Greenwashing": A Closer Look at Ethical Corporate Communication

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  • Béatrice Parguel

    ()
    (DRM - Dauphine Recherches en Management - CNRS : UMR7088 - Université Paris IX - Paris Dauphine)

  • Florence Benoit Moreau

    (DRM - Dauphine Recherches en Management - CNRS : UMR7088 - Université Paris IX - Paris Dauphine)

  • Fabrice Larceneux

    ()
    (DRM - Dauphine Recherches en Management - CNRS : UMR7088 - Université Paris IX - Paris Dauphine)

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    Abstract

    Of the many ethical corporate marketing practices, many firms use corporate social responsibility (CSR) communication to enhance their corporate image. Yet, consumers, overwhelmed by these more or less well-founded CSR claims, often have trouble identifying truly responsible firms. This confusion encourages 'greenwashing' and may make CSR initiatives less effective. On the basis of attribution theory, this study investigates the role of independent sustainability ratings on consumers' responses to companies' CSR communication. Experimental results indicate the negative effect of a poor sustainability rating for corporate brand evaluations in the case of CSR communication, because consumers infer less intrinsic motives by the brand. Sustainability ratings thus could act to deter 'greenwashing' and encourage virtuous firms to persevere in their CSR practices.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by HAL in its series Post-Print with number hal-00654101.

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    Date of creation: 2011
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    Publication status: Published, Journal of Business Ethics, 2011, 102, 1, 15-28
    Handle: RePEc:hal:journl:hal-00654101

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    Cited by:
    1. Skarmeas, Dionysis & Leonidou, Constantinos N., 2013. "When consumers doubt, Watch out! The role of CSR skepticism," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 66(10), pages 1831-1838.
    2. Mohamed Chelli & Yves Gendron, 2013. "Sustainability Ratings and the Disciplinary Power of the Ideology of Numbers," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 112(2), pages 187-203, January.
    3. Yu-Shan Chen & Ching-Hsun Chang, 2013. "Greenwash and Green Trust: The Mediation Effects of Green Consumer Confusion and Green Perceived Risk," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 114(3), pages 489-500, May.
    4. John Balmer & Shaun Powell & Stephen Greyser, 2011. "Explicating Ethical Corporate Marketing. Insights from the BP Deepwater Horizon Catastrophe: The Ethical Brand that Exploded and then Imploded," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 102(1), pages 1-14, August.

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