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date: 13 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

There is now a well-established literature showing that stakeholders often respond positively to organizations’ environmental and social initiatives, or corporate social responsibility (CSR) practices. However, much less attention has been dedicated to determining whether and why people might also respond negatively to CSR, and the circumstances in which this is more likely to occur. For example, rampant “greenwashing” may mean that even well-intentioned and genuine CSR actions and communications are met with suspicion because this widespread misrepresentation has created a justifiably wary public. This chapter highlights research to date that suggests we should be concerned with the potential for stakeholders to respond negatively to CSR practices and communications. It concludes by offering directions for future research and important questions regarding when and why CSR may elicit unintended negative reactions from stakeholders—or “CSR backfire effects.”

Keywords: greenwashing, micro-CSR, skepticism, CSR backfire effects, reactions to CSR, social responsibility, triple bottom line, psychology of CSR

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