The Role of CSR in Crises: Integration of Situational Crisis Communication Theory and the Persuasion Knowledge Model

Chang Dae Ham, Jeesun Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Despite widespread discussion of the impact of corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities on consumer perceptions, little research has examined how consumers cope with CSR-based crisis response messages as a bolstering strategy. To fill this gap, we propose a framework integrating situational crisis communication theory with the persuasion knowledge model, applying the model to an experiment with a 2 (topic knowledge − crisis type: accidental vs. intentional) × 2 (persuasion knowledge− CSR motives: intrinsic vs. extrinsic) × 2 (agent knowledge− CSR history: long vs. short) between-subjects factorial design. In Study 1, we found interaction effects between CSR motives and crisis type on word-of-mouth intention and purchase intention. In addition, inferences about CSR motives interacted with perceptions about CSR history on purchase intention. In Study 2, we replicated study 1 and found that crisis responsibility mediated the main effect of crisis type on behavioral intentions, but neither the main effect of CSR motives and CSR history nor the interactions effects among those variables were mediated by crisis responsibility. Our results indicate that consumer inferences from a company’s CSR-based crisis communications play a significant role in increasing consumer behavioral intentions in two situations: when a crisis is accidental and when a CSR history is short. Ethical and theoretical implications are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)353-372
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Business Ethics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 30 2019


  • Agent knowledge
  • Corporate social responsibility (CSR)
  • Crisis type
  • Persuasion knowledge
  • Persuasion knowledge model (PKM)
  • Situational crisis communication theory (SCCT)
  • Topic knowledge

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Law


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