Graduation Year

2008

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.A.

Degree Granting Department

Mass Communications

Major Professor

Kelly Page Werder, Ph.D.

Keywords

Corporate credibility, Corporate social responsibility, Theory of reasoned action, Chipotle

Abstract

Recently, the use of corporate social responsibility initiatives has grown in popularity and prominence among organizations as research increasingly suggests that these initiatives positively impact the corporation's bottom line. This study contributes to theory driven research in strategic communications by using an experimental design to test the influence of six distinct corporate social responsibility initiatives, as identified by Kotler and Lee (2005), on the beliefs, attitudes, and behavioral intention of message receivers, using Fishbein and Ajzen's (1975, 2005) theory of reasoned action as a theoretical framework. According to Fishbein and Ajzen (1975), attitudes about an object are the result of the total of many varying beliefs about the object. This study extends understanding of the Dual Credibility Model by examining the influence of corporate credibility as a belief set and mediator between organizations and their target publics.

This study is uniquely focused on developing a better understanding of how corporate social responsibility initiatives influence corporate credibility and corporate social responsibility beliefs. Findings do not indicate significant differences among corporate social responsibility initiatives. Only significant differences between using and not using an initiative were found. However, among the initiatives cause related marketing demonstrated the highest mean score, although not a significant difference. CSR initiatives do influence belief sets, specifically CSR beliefs. The corporate credibility/ trust belief set showed the strongest positive influence on attitude toward the advertisement and attitude toward the organization. Attitude towards the organization demonstrated a significant influence on behavioral intention toward the organization. These results support the theory of reasoned action.

Exploratory research found that corporate credibility/trust and corporate credibility/expertise directly and significantly influenced behavioral intention toward the organization, suggesting an extension of the theory within the context of corporate credibility.

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