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Signaling Corporate Social Responsibility: Third-Party Certification vs. Brands

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  • Fabrice Etilé

    (ALISS - Alimentation et sciences sociales - INRA - Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, PSE - Paris School of Economics - ENPC - École des Ponts ParisTech - ENS-PSL - École normale supérieure - Paris - PSL - Université Paris sciences et lettres - UP1 - Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - INRAE - Institut National de Recherche pour l’Agriculture, l’Alimentation et l’Environnement, PSE - Paris-Jourdan Sciences Economiques - ENS-PSL - École normale supérieure - Paris - PSL - Université Paris sciences et lettres - INRA - Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - ENPC - École des Ponts ParisTech - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)

  • Sabrina Teyssier

    (ALISS - Alimentation et sciences sociales - INRA - Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique)

Abstract

For most consumers, Corporate Social Responsibility is a credence attribute of products, which can be signaled either through a label certified by a third party, or via unsubstantiated claims used as part of a brand-building strategy. These claims may, in theory, be regulated by reputation mechanisms and the awareness of NGOs and activists. We use an experimental posted-offer market with sellers and buyers to compare the impact of these signalling strategies on market efficiency. Both third-party certification and the possibility of CSRrelated brand building give rise to a separating equilibrium. However, only third-party certification clearly produces efficiency gains, by increasing CSR investments. In markets where reputation matters little, unsubstantiated claims can generate a 'halo' effect on consumers, whereby the latter are nudged into paying more for the same level of CSR investments by firms.

Suggested Citation

  • Fabrice Etilé & Sabrina Teyssier, 2012. "Signaling Corporate Social Responsibility: Third-Party Certification vs. Brands," PSE - Labex "OSE-Ouvrir la Science Economique" halshs-00736551, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:pseose:halshs-00736551
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