Is socially responsible behavior good business? An investigation of tomorrow's business leaders

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Social Responsibility Journal


Purpose The purpose of this paper is to seek to answer the question as to why socially responsible behavior is good business behavior. Design/methodology/approach A two (presence/absence of warning label) by two (potentially hazardous/not hazardous product) experimental design tested four hypothesized relationships. Findings It was found that the more favorable attitudes formed when warning labels are present support the notion that consumers recognize and value the stewardship principle. The findings are consistent with the emerging trend toward the triple bottom line philosophy. The difference between 2002 and 2006 for condition 4 (i.e. potentially hazardous with warning label) suggest that market activities (i.e. increase awareness of hazardous products) results in a dilution effect in which weaker inferences are formed from non-diagnostic information. Research limitations/implications – Clearly, the use of only USA samples provides a limitation in that we cannot address how these issues might vary across nations. Furthermore, moderating variables that might explain some of the counterintuitive findings were not considered in this study. As with all scientific research, bias (e.g. replying with an inaccurate but socially acceptable answer) should be considered when interpreting the findings of this study. Practical implications The current research makes two major managerial contributions: it supports the triple bottom line framework which suggests that the value of an organization should integrate economic, environmental, and social activities; and confirms the importance of voluntary labeling as a tool for capturing a competitive advantage. Originality/value This study addresses the gap in the literature as to the relationship between voluntary labeling, attitudes, and intentions and provides empirical evidence of the causal relationship. © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited


Management, Marketing, and Logistics

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