Does the CSR Message Matter? Untangling the Relationship Between Corporate–Nonprofit Partnerships, Created Fit Messages, and Activist Evaluations

Reyhaneh Maktoufi, Amy O’Connor, Michelle Shumate

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

This study unpacks the complex relationship between corporate–nonprofit partnerships, corporate social responsibility (CSR) communication, and stakeholder evaluations of fit. We move beyond the fundamental question of whether partner fit matters to questions about what types of messages matter, under what conditions, and to whom. We conducted an online experiment (N = 966) to test created fit messages’ ability to influence stakeholder perceptions of corporate–nonprofit partnership fit. Grounded in the symbiotic sustainability model, we find that created fit messaging results in stakeholders having more favorable evaluations of corporate–nonprofit partnership fit. However, we also identify differences in the effectiveness of created fit messaging across potential partnerships. In addition, we find, beyond message type and level of partner congruity, the degree of CSR activism influences stakeholders’ responses to created fit messaging in counterintuitive ways.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)188-212
Number of pages25
JournalManagement Communication Quarterly
Volume34
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Maktoufi Reyhaneh 1 https://orcid.org/0000-0003-1632-3843 O’Connor Amy 2 Shumate Michelle 1 1 Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, USA 2 University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, USA Amy O’Connor, Hubbard School of Journalism & Mass Communication, University of Minnesota, 111 Murphy Hall, 206 Church St. S.E., Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA. Email: amyoc@umn.edu 1 2020 0893318919897059 © The Author(s) 2020 2020 SAGE Publications This study unpacks the complex relationship between corporate–nonprofit partnerships, corporate social responsibility (CSR) communication, and stakeholder evaluations of fit. We move beyond the fundamental question of whether partner fit matters to questions about what types of messages matter, under what conditions, and to whom. We conducted an online experiment ( N = 966) to test created fit messages’ ability to influence stakeholder perceptions of corporate–nonprofit partnership fit. Grounded in the symbiotic sustainability model, we find that created fit messaging results in stakeholders having more favorable evaluations of corporate–nonprofit partnership fit. However, we also identify differences in the effectiveness of created fit messaging across potential partnerships. In addition, we find, beyond message type and level of partner congruity, the degree of CSR activism influences stakeholders’ responses to created fit messaging in counterintuitive ways. corporate social responsibility corporate–nonprofit partnerships activists created fit messages National Science Foundation https://doi.org/10.13039/100000001 1631602 edited-state corrected-proof typesetter ts1 Declaration of Conflicting Interests The author(s) declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article. Funding The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: The authors are grateful to the National Science Foundation (1631602) grant that provided the funding for this research. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. ORCID iD Amy O’Connor https://orcid.org/0000-0003-1632-3843

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2020.

Keywords

  • activists
  • corporate social responsibility
  • corporate–nonprofit partnerships
  • created fit messages

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