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CSR crises from the consumers’ perspective: a multidimensional typology and future research agenda

Guido Grunwald (Faculty of Management, Culture and Technology, Osnabrueck University of Applied Sciences, Lingen, Germany)

Social Responsibility Journal

ISSN: 1747-1117

Article publication date: 2 March 2022

Issue publication date: 26 January 2023




The purpose of this paper is to develop a multidimensional corporate social responsibility (CSR) crisis typology from the consumers’ perspective and to provide an agenda for future research.


Basic content-related dimensions for characterizing CSR crises from the consumers’ perspective are derived from a review of relevant static crisis typologies. Different types of consumer responses to negative CSR information are derived from various theoretical approaches. Dynamic process models of corporate crises are reviewed to assign various types of consumer responses to different crisis phases. Linking both static and dynamic approaches leads to a comprehensive consumer-oriented typology of CSR crises that is illustrated with examples.


A CSR crises typology is developed based on three consumer-related dimensions: the extent to which the company is attributed blame by consumers; the amount of perceived damage potential; and the perceived CSR relevance of the crisis situation. The combination of these dimensions results in eight different crisis types. For each of these crisis types, different forms of consumer responses are assigned that prevail in the so-called potential, latent and manifest crisis phase.

Research limitations/implications

Future research could address the empirical review of the crisis typology presented, its refinement by considering various consumer and stakeholder segmentation approaches and the advanced dynamic analysis of CSR crises by including stakeholder characteristics that impact the diffusion of CSR-related negative publicity.

Practical implications

The results of this paper support early crisis detection and effective crisis management by identifying relevant target variables for crisis communication.


The typology developed enables a broad spectrum of CSR crises to be classified, including those that have been neglected in previous systematization approaches, such as CSR-related tensions, general sustainability crises and product-harm crises. Due to its theoretical foundation, this paper also contributes to a clearer demarcation of existing CSR crisis constructs.



The author would like to thank two anonymous reviewers for their valuable and comprehensive feedback.


Grunwald, G. (2023), "CSR crises from the consumers’ perspective: a multidimensional typology and future research agenda", Social Responsibility Journal, Vol. 19 No. 2, pp. 398-426.



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