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The role of corporate social advocacy forms in shaping young adults’ responses

Joon Kyoung Kim (Harrington School of Communication and Media, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, Rhode Island, USA)
Won-Ki Moon (Department of Advertising, College of Journalism and Communications, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, USA)
Jegoo Lee (College of Business, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, Rhode Island, USA)

Corporate Communications: An International Journal

ISSN: 1356-3289

Article publication date: 25 April 2024




This study aims to examine the role of different forms of corporate social advocacy (CSA) in shaping individuals’ attitudinal and behavioral intentions towards companies taking their public stand on controversial socio-political issues. With an online experiment as the research method, this study tests whether depicting nonpolitical or political behaviors in CSA messages increases individuals’ positive behavioral intentions.


This study uses a single factor between subject online experiment. A total of 135 US young adults were recruited through a Qualtrics online panel. Three social media mockups were created to manipulate three levels of actions in CSA messages (no action, nonpolitical action and political action). Participants viewed one of those social media posts depicting presented actions to counter anti-LGBTQ + legislation in the USA and answered questions about values-driven motives behind CSA, brand preference and positive word-of-mouth (WOM) intention.


Participants displayed higher levels of brand preference when they viewed CSA messages depicting the company’s political action intended to repel anti-LGBTQ + legislation. Participants showed more positive WOM intentions towards the company when they perceived its political actions as more values-driven.

Practical implications

The findings of this study offer practical insights to companies when designing CSA messages and strategies. The results of this study indicate that the presence of political actions in CSA communication increases individuals’ positive behaviors towards companies. The results also suggest that depicting altruistic motives behind CSA leads individuals to talk about companies more in positive ways.


This study is one of the early studies investigating the impact of various forms of CSA on individuals’ attitudinal and behavioral intentions to companies practicing CSA. This study provides practical implications on how to effectively appeal individuals’ favorable attitudes and behaviors towards CSA. In particular, this research presents the importance of action aspects in individuals’ attitudes toward corporations’ CSA messages.



This project was supported by a Page Legacy Scholar Grant from the Arthur W. Page Center for Integrity in Public Communication at the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications at Pennsylvania State University. Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Penn State.


Kim, J.K., Moon, W.-K. and Lee, J. (2024), "The role of corporate social advocacy forms in shaping young adults’ responses", Corporate Communications: An International Journal, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.



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