Proactive Versus Reactive CSR in a Crisis: An Impression Management Perspective

Hyejoon Rim, Mary Ann T. Ferguson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


This study investigates the effects of corporate social responsibility (CSR) practices on protecting and restoring company reputation in crisis situations. The results suggest the ability of proactive CSR to counter potential damage to corporate reputation caused by a crisis but not to serve as a remedy after a crisis. The findings further indicate a significant interaction effect between crisis type and the fit of reactive CSR for a company without proactive CSR. For a preventable crisis, a company is better off choosing low-fit reactive CSR than not engaging in reactive CSR at all. In a victim crisis, low-fit reactive CSR is more effective in improving company reputation than high-fit reactive CSR. When a company has been previously engaged in proactive CSR, the impact of fit across crisis types disappears. The mediating role of perceived altruism suggests the importance of sincerity in CSR.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)545-568
Number of pages24
JournalInternational Journal of Business Communication
Issue number4
Early online date2017
StatePublished - Oct 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2017.


  • corporate social responsibility
  • crisis communication
  • CSR-crisis fit
  • impression management


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