Does Culture Matter? Measuring Cross-Country Perceptions of CSR Communication Campaigns about COVID-19

Sustainability, 14, 889. doi: 10.3390/su14020889

Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic has brought several challenges to businesses and societies. In response, many corporations have supported local communities and authorities in the management of the pandemic. Although these initiatives, which can be considered forms of corporate social responsibility (CSR), were highly coupled with explicit CSR communication campaigns, little is known about whether these campaigns were effective. Previous research indicates that culture can shape people’s perceptions of CSR initiatives and communications, suggesting that businesses pay attention to careful consideration of cultural norms for effective CSR communication. However, the COVID-19 pandemic as a new CSR setting may challenge earlier findings. This study empirically investigates whether three cultural factors (individualism/collectivism, uncertainty avoidance, and power distance) affect public perceptions measured as recall of and favorability towards corporate COVID-19 response initiatives across six countries. Findings from a representative survey of adults across these countries show that respondents in individualistic and collectivistic countries recall these CSR communication campaigns about these corporate COVID-19 response initiatives quite differently, and these are related to differences in power distance and uncertainty avoidance. However, no difference was found in overall corporate favorability, indicating that cultural factors did not affect levels of favorability towards such initiatives. This, we argue, can be explained by the global dimension of the COVID-19 pandemic, which is the context of these CSR initiatives. This study contributes to CSR communication literature with empirical findings from a global pandemic setting. It offers businesses and managers empirical grounds to understand the communicative impact of COVID-19 response initiatives, which can inform future CSR actions.

Sung In Choi  Yan Jin  Solyee Kim 

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