The Effects of Sport Organizations’ Communication of Corporate Social Responsibility on Consumers

Executive Summary

The findings of this Ph.D thesis provide evidence that CSR can be used by professional sports organizations to improve their reputation among consumers. Moreover, CSR can be used to counter negative effects of sport organizations’ unethical behaviors and reduce the impact on the organizations themselves as well as on their stakeholders.

In a wide-ranging review of prior research studies, as well as three original experiments, the thesis examines:

  • Motive attributions as a main driver of consumers’ response to CSR.
  • Where to engage in CSR? The relevance of the proximity of the supported cause for consumers’ response to CSR.
  • CSR as a mechanism to reduce negative effects of unethical behaviors.

Findings include:

  • Reputation improves if recipients of CSR campaigns attribute philanthropic (vs. profit-driven) motives.  Similarly, reputation declines if recipients of CSR campaigns attribute profit-driven motives.
  • Based on egocentrism theory, local (vs. distant) CSR activities should lead to a more favorable consumer-related CSR outcome, as the local community directly benefits from CSR. In fact, that is the case for small sporting goods retailers. But, for large sporting goods retailers, consumers evaluated them more positively when their philanthropic motives were carried out at distant locations.
  • CSR can reduce (or even eliminate) negative effects of perceived corruption on the evaluation of both the sport governing body and sport event and hence sport sponsorship.
Research Notes

Editors Note:  Regarding the proximity of the supported cause, the researcher’s findings seem counter-intuitive and worthy of further investigation, particularly for American teams and sporting goods retailers. But perhaps consumers look to bigger sports organizations to address bigger issues.

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Publication Date



Ph.D Dissertation at Technische Univeritat Munchen


Wojciech Kulczycki

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