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Building a theoretical framework of message authenticity in CSR communication

Andrea Pérez (Department of Business Administration, University of Cantabria, Santander, Spain)

Corporate Communications: An International Journal

ISSN: 1356-3289

Article publication date: 25 January 2019

Issue publication date: 23 May 2019



The purpose of this paper is to provide an integrative theoretical framework that advances the underdeveloped stream of research that analyses how message authenticity influences the persuasiveness of corporate social responsibility (CSR) communication.


Theoretical and empirical literature on authenticity is reviewed to provide a comprehensive definition of message authenticity in CSR communication. An integrative theoretical framework is also developed to understand how message authenticity is enhanced through the design of informational content and it improves consumer responses to CSR communication.


The framework presented in the paper defends that message authenticity can be integrated in communication models based on three streams of research: identity-based brand management model, attribution theory and heuristic-systematic model. Consumer attributions of message authenticity can be notably improved with a message design based on CSR fit, social topic information and specificity. Authenticity improves message and source credibility by reducing consumer scepticism and enhancing their attributions of corporate expertise and trustworthiness. Indirect benefits of CSR message authenticity include increased consumer purchase, loyalty and advocacy behaviours.


The value of the paper resides in making the rather underdeveloped and inconclusive literature on authenticity accessible to CSR and communication researchers and practitioners. A theoretical framework is provided for further research that would contribute to improving the knowledge on the role that message authenticity plays in CSR communication.



Pérez, A. (2019), "Building a theoretical framework of message authenticity in CSR communication", Corporate Communications: An International Journal, Vol. 24 No. 2, pp. 334-350.



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