CSR, Relationship Quality, Loyalty and Psychological Connection in Sports

Executive Summary

This research study investigates the role of corporate social responsibility in deepening relationship quality (between customers and a sports team).

Given that customers develop a psychological connection with sports organizations over time, the study also examines whether the link between CSR and relationship quality is impacted by the stage in the psychological continuum model:

  • awareness
  • attraction
  • attachment
  • allegiance


The results support the direct impact of CSR activities on relationship quality. In turn, relationship quality drives customer loyalty, which is “a deeply held intention to constantly re-buy or re-patronize a specific product/service, resulting in repetitive consumption of the same brand/product” (Oliver, 1999).

However, as customers move through the psychological connection stages, the effect of CSR on customer loyalty (via relationship quality) tends to diminish.  So, CSR has more impact on enhancing relationships with less psychologically-connected fans than fans who are already deeply committed to a team.

Research Notes

Survey Sample

The survey data were drawn from 5,859 season ticket holders (73.4% male) of a professional Australian Football League club based in Melbourne, Australia.

Relationship Quality

In this study, relationship quality was defined as: “the different but related facets of a relationship, namely: affective commitment, calculative commitment, satisfaction, benevolence trust and competence trust.”

Related Research

Lacey and Kennett-Hensel (2010) collected data twice across several months, to show that CSR attitudes often develop over time and that there can be a lag effect on the influence of CSR activities.

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Publication Date



Marketing Intelligence & Planning


Munyaradzi W. Nyadzayo, Civilai Leckie and Heath McDonald

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