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When in the Summer of 2015 unprecedented numbers of refugees traveled through Austria, not only public and governmental authorities were challenged to provide support, but…
When in the Summer of 2015 unprecedented numbers of refugees traveled through Austria, not only public and governmental authorities were challenged to provide support, but also the business sector. Various companies responded to the challenge by organizing relief actions, among them Austrian Federal Railways (OEBB). The purpose of this paper is to analyze the effects of this initiative on stakeholder perceptions and behavior.
The case of OEBB served as the research context. Data were collected by means of an online survey in May of 2016, about eight months after the initiative.
Almost half of the participants mentioned OEBB’s activities for refugees in an unaided recall task. Unaided corporate social responsibility (CSR) awareness is related to people’s issue involvement and reminiscence of specific activities and communication measures. People unaidedly recalling the initiative expressed a significantly better CSR image and identification with the company; they also expressed a stronger intention to speak positively (positive word of mouth) about the company’s CSR activities. CSR image and attitude toward the initiative mediates this effect.
The study stresses the importance of CSR awareness and communication. The non-representative sample does not allow general inferences.
This research uses an actual case to test the effectiveness of CSR activities and communication in the context of a highly critical situation, and sheds light on the mediating processes that drive the effects. The study extends existing knowledge from experimental studies.