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Stakeholder responses toward fast food chains’ CSR: Public health-related vs generic social issue-related CSR initiatives

Yeonsoo Kim (School of Communication Studies, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Virginia, USA)
Mari Luz Zapata Ramos (Department of Business Administration, University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez, Puerto Rico)

Corporate Communications: An International Journal

ISSN: 1356-3289

Article publication date: 5 February 2018




The purpose of this paper is to examine how stakeholders perceive the motives behind fast food companies’ public health-related corporate social responsibility (CSR) and general social issue-related CSR initiatives, and their responses toward CSR in terms of supportive communication intent, investment intent, and purchase intent. The authors further examine the impact of perceived CSR motives on intent and whether a healthier chain image has an effect on stakeholder responses.


An online experiment was conducted. This study employed a randomized 2 (CSR type: health-related CSR vs generic social issue-related CSR)×2 (chain image: healthier chain vs general fast-food chain) full factorial design using general stakeholder samples.


For an ordinary fast food restaurant, generic social issue-related CSR programs elicited significantly more positive perceptions of CSR motives, supportive communication intent and investment intent, than public-health related CSR. When a company has a healthier image, stakeholders do not distinguish between CSR types. Stakeholders perceive both CSR types as stemming from mutually beneficial motives and show neutral to slightly positive reactions to both CSR. A positively perceived CSR motive plays a determinant role in anticipating communication, investment, and purchase intents.


This is the first study that examines stakeholder perception of motives behind and responses toward fast food chains’ health-related vs generic social issue-related CSR initiatives, in light of corporate image. The study findings help public relations practitioners, public health professionals, parent groups, and legislators understand stakeholders’ reactions toward CSR initiatives in the fast food industry and help them monitor practices for improvements.



Kim, Y. and Zapata Ramos, M.L. (2018), "Stakeholder responses toward fast food chains’ CSR: Public health-related vs generic social issue-related CSR initiatives", Corporate Communications: An International Journal, Vol. 23 No. 1, pp. 117-138.



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