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Cause-related marketing–led corporate social responsibility in international business-to-business markets: the contingent roles of host-country sustainable development

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Purpose - Cause-related marketing (CRM) focuses on the use of marketing tools to publicize a firm’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities. Drawing on legitimacy theory, this study investigates the impact of CRM-led CSR in international business-to-business (B2B) markets. In particular, we examine the relationship between supplier CRM-led philanthropic CSR reputation and foreign customer business engagement in an international B2B setting. We also test how the foreign customer’s host-country sustainable development level moderates this relationship.

Design/methodology/approach - We collect and analyze dyadic data from multiple sources including 1) dyadic data from asupplier and its 90 foreign customers, 2) the supplier’s internal company records, and 3) publically available data.

Findings - We find that supplier CRM-led philanthropic CSR reputation positively affects foreign customer business engagement. Furthermore, we find that this positive relationship is stronger when host-country environments are characterized by achieving a higher level of environmental wellbeing development. In contrast, this positive relationship is weaker when the foreign customer host-country environment is characterized by achieving a higher level of economic wellbeing development.

Originality/value - We examine that impacts of CRM-led CSR in international B2B markets and differentiate the contingent roles of foreign customer host-country sustainable development in moderating such impacts.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Marketing Review
Publication statusAccepted for publication - 23 Jul 2019


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