Chapter I: Introduction
Corporate social responsibility according to Henderson (2001) can be defined as the commitment of organizations to help society by improving working and living conditions of employees, their families, and the community as a whole.
The use of CSR as a discipline has its foundation on past centuries, when some kind of social awareness was practiced by companies at the time, nevertheless most authors concur that from the 1960’s onwards, the developmental pace of the subject increase considerably and it became the real basis in which CSR stands in current times, each of the last five decades has played an important role for the discipline, especially the 1990’s decade when general social discontent had spread through different sectors of society and organizations were demanded to become part of the solution rather than the problem (May et al, 2007).
Many are now the companies that consider themselves to be social responsible, the case of Shell is one that stands out, due to the fact that the company in the 1990 was severely accused to accept and follow wrongful policies of work and had no interest on improving the life conditions of the communities in which operated, like the case of Nigeria .After a restructuration in its guidelines and strategies Shell has now become a devoted social responsible company (Henderson, 2001). Another well behave company is Starbucks coffee, this corporation has developed different levels of social responsibility that stretch from its own employees to the coffee farmers around the world (Starbucks.com, 2009). For both companies the application of a social responsibility framework has had positive outcomes, especially those related to acceptance improvement with government relations.
The benefits of Corporate Social Responsibility are broad and far reaching; Corporations with unlimited resources and honest intentions can have the ability to change people’s lives in a significant manner, by creating adequate working conditions, developing educational and health programmes, among many others. The correct establishment of these responsible guidelines would probably enrich the relationships that the corporation holds with stakeholders and any other entity that is affected by their operations. However, it is also important to understand the effects that social responsibility actions have on the purchase intention of consumers.
Several researches have explored the connection between CSR and purchase intention. Creyer and Ross (1997) found that the ethical behaviour of companies in considered by consumers during purchase decision. Mohr et al. (2001) also supported this assumption and suggested that there is a ‘substantial market segment’ paying attention to companies’ CSR practices. A research developed by Prabu et al. (2005) obtained similar findings and added that Social Responsibility has as well a positive effect on corporate identity.