Volume 28, 2017
Proceedings of the Twenty-Eighth Annual Meeting
The Role of Motive Attributions of Corporate Social Responsibility Activities in the Development of Stakeholder Trust
Stakeholders are often sceptical of a firm’s engagement in corporate social responsibility (CSR). They may doubt whether the firm reports its engagement honestly and, even when this engagement is seen as real, they can still doubt whether the firm is driven by genuine motives or self-interest. A firm’s motives are important for stakeholders, because genuine motives are stable and can be counted upon, while self-interest depends on circumstances that could change. This paper uses attribution theory to develop a two-stage model of how stakeholder motive attributions contribute to the development of stakeholder trust is presented. This model separates issues of credibility of CSR information from issues of trustworthiness of a firm, which previous research has usually mixed. The model implies that both values-driven and strategic-driven motives can confer credibility to a firm, but only values-driven motives can support stakeholder trust that is not merely calculative.