Consumers as Drivers of Corporate Social Responsibility

N. Craig Smith

in The Oxford Handbook of Corporate Social Responsibility

Published in print February 2008 | ISBN: 9780199211593
Published online September 2009 | e-ISBN: 9780191576997 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Business and Management C

Consumers as Drivers of Corporate Social Responsibility

More Like This

Show all results sharing these subjects:

  • Business Strategy
  • Business Ethics


Show Summary Details


This article surveys the potential and limits of consumers in demanding socially responsible behavior through their decisions at the checkout. Corporate responsibility (CR) has never been more prominent on the corporate agenda and primarily because the business case is perceived to be much stronger. This article takes a critical look at the role of consumers in corporate attention to CR. It gives illustrative examples of ‘ethical consumerism’, survey data, and a theoretical rationale that supports the general idea that consumers care about issues of corporate responsibility. It also examines various marketer initiatives that reflect a belief in ethical consumerism, from cause-related marketing to ethical branding. It then turns to more theoretical treatments and empirical research findings on, first, consumer support for pro-social corporate conduct (‘positive ethical consumerism’) and, second, consumer punishment of CR failings, most notably in consumer boycotts (‘negative ethical consumerism’).

Keywords: socially responsible behavior; corporate responsibility; ethical consumerism; survey data; empirical research findings

Article.  9200 words. 

Subjects: Business Strategy ; Business Ethics

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.