Review of Research on CSR in International Marketing: 1993-2013
AuthorEteokleous, Pantelitsa P.
Katsikeas, Constantine S.
Leonidou, Leonidas C.
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Although Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has been an issue of major concern for marketers for more than half a century, less attention has been paid to its international marketing dimensions. However, there is a sufficient critical mass of articles on the link between CSR and international marketing to warrant attention. Thus, the aim of our study is to systematically review, assess, and synthesize extant research on the subject. Specifically, we have three major objectives: (a) to identify and analyze the theories that provided the theoretical background of articles on the subject(b) to assess the research methodologies employedand (c) to organize and discuss the key thematic issues addressed. Using a combination of electronic and manual literature search methods, we have identified 132 studies that appeared in 107 articles and were published in 61 academic journals during the period 1993-2013. Theoretically, slightly over a third of the articles were not anchored on a specific theory, and this was particularly true during the early stages of this research. The remainder employed one of the following theories: stakeholder theory (20.6 %), institutional theory (8.4 %), resource-based view (5.6 %), resource-dependence theory (3.7 %), legitimacy theory (3.7 %), and information processing theory (2.8 %). Theories used less frequently were: signaling theory, agency theory and upper echelons theory. A tenth of articles used multiple theories. Methodologically, pertinent articles were characterized by growing sophistication and rigor, as demonstrated by a gradual shift of research from descriptive to formalized, from exploratory to causal, from widening the range of focal country settings, from extending the unit of analysis to cover both firms and various stakeholder groups, from non-probability to probability sampling designs, from single to combined data collection methods, and from univariate and bivariate analytical methods to structural equation modeling. Empirically, this literature covered a wide range of issues, with the most commonly studied being those focusing on the elements of international marketing strategy, external environmental influences, and CSR practices, such as stakeholder management, cause-related marketing and philanthropy, and performance-related issues (although limited attention was paid to social and financial performance). The least studied issues referred to internal influences (e.g., organizational and managerial considerations), consumer retaliation and boycotts, CSR communications, and factors stimulating or obstructing CSR adoption. In conclusion, the literature on CSR issues in international marketing seems to have a rapidly developing and widely spreading pattern, which is characterized by increasing sophistication, innovative elements, and useful insights. This is particularly true of the last 4 years, in which reach on the subject has grown at an unprecedented pace. Since this body of research is expected to grow further in the future, as a result of increasing public concern and sensitivity to social-related issues, the imposition of stringent legislation, and the intensification of competition on a global scale, we end up with a comprehensive list of future research avenues that fall under nine different categories. Our review contributes to the international marketing discipline in three different ways: (a) it synthesizes a novel body of research characterized by great fragmentation and diversity into an organized and holistic framework(b) it creates an inventory of knowledge that could help marketing scholars to advance research on the subject, and practitioners to gain insights into the role of CSR issues in their foreign operationsand (c) it offers public policymakers a framework for formulating sound policies to encourage socially responsible behavior among international firms.