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See discussions, stats, and author profiles for this publication at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/339406924
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The effect of CSR engagement on
eWOM on social media
Mobin Fatma
College for Women, Prince Sultan University, Riyadh, Saudi...
In this context, effective communication is essential as it can enhance consumers’
evaluation of a company by improving th...
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  1. 1. See discussions, stats, and author profiles for this publication at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/339406924 The effect of CSR engagement on eWOM on social media Article in International Journal of Organizational Analysis · September 2021 DOI: 10.1108/IJOA-10-2019-1895 CITATIONS 40 READS 2,198 4 authors: Some of the authors of this publication are also working on these related projects: CSR in the tourism industry View project International collaborations View project Mobin Fatma Prince Sultan University 37 PUBLICATIONS 1,231 CITATIONS SEE PROFILE Andrea Pérez Universidad de Cantabria 96 PUBLICATIONS 2,806 CITATIONS SEE PROFILE Imran Khan Prince Sultan University 45 PUBLICATIONS 1,707 CITATIONS SEE PROFILE Zillur Rahman Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee 359 PUBLICATIONS 10,253 CITATIONS SEE PROFILE All content following this page was uploaded by Mobin Fatma on 14 May 2020. The user has requested enhancement of the downloaded file.
  2. 2. The effect of CSR engagement on eWOM on social media Mobin Fatma College for Women, Prince Sultan University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and College of Business Administration, Prince Sultan University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia Andrea Perez Ruiz Universidad de Cantabria, Santander, Spain Imran Khan College of Business Administration, Prince Sultan University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and Zillur Rahman Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee, Roorkee, India Abstract Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to examine how banks’ level of corporate social responsibility (CSR) engagement influences consumers’ electronic word-of-mouth (eWOM) on Facebook. Furthermore, this study examines the mediating role of consumer identification with a company (C-C identification) in the relationship between CSR engagement and eWOM in online communications. Design/methodology/approach – Indian banks have been taken as a study context. The data were collected online from July to August 2018, resulting in 239 valid surveys. Data were analysed using structural equation modelling via AMOS 22.0. Findings – The findings in the present study suggest that CSR communication on social networking sites engages consumers and also helps them to identify with the companies and increase their eWOM intentions. Based on this finding, the authors suggest that managers should communicate about CSR engagement on social media to favourably influence identification and eWOM. Practical implications – The result highlights the opportunities brought by new technology such as online social media to the service industry. Originality/value – The present study contributes to the literature by enriching the understanding of how CSR engagement influences eWOM on social media. Of theoretical concern, this study connects the social identity perspective to CSR in the online context, something not previously explored. Keywords Corporate social responsibility, eWOM, Consumer–company identification, Banks Paper type Research paper 1. Introduction Consumers and other stakeholders have high expectations for companies to be socially responsible and ethical in their practices (Du et al., 2013). Corporate social responsibility (CSR) includes all the diverse social practices carried out by a company to enhance the congruence between the social expectation of stakeholders and corporate behaviour (Fatma and Rahman, 2016). As a result, many authors have demonstrated a positive relationship between a company’s CSR engagement and its financial and social performance (Martínez-Ferrero and Frías-Aceituno, 2015; Busch and Friede, 2018). Effect of CSR engagement 941 Received 2 October 2019 Revised 19 January 2020 26 January 2020 Accepted 28 January 2020 International Journal of Organizational Analysis Vol. 28 No. 4, 2020 pp. 941-956 © EmeraldPublishingLimited 1934-8835 DOI 10.1108/IJOA-10-2019-1895 The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at: https://www.emerald.com/insight/1934-8835.htm
  3. 3. In this context, effective communication is essential as it can enhance consumers’ evaluation of a company by improving their identification with it (consumer–company [C-C] identification) (Bhattacharya et al., 2009), which in turn may eventually influence positive word-of-mouth (WOM) (Vo et al., 2017). These findings highlight the importance of effective communication about CSR towards stakeholders, including consumers (Xie et al., 2015). For instance, the emergence of social media platforms (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) offers companies new opportunities to connect with consumers (Harrigan et al., 2017) and is a strong tool to communicate the company’s activities to them (De Keyzer et al., 2019; Aladwani, 2014). It has been argued that interactive media usage may enhance the effectiveness of communication about CSR because users can easily spread the information to others (Du and Vieira, 2012). Therefore, social networking sites (SNSs) have become an effective platform for companies to share their CSR engagement (Colleoni, 2013). Moreover, companies with higher CSR ratings tend to build a larger online presence (e.g. number of followers) compared to those with lower ratings on CSR (Lee et al., 2013). Among the SNSs, Facebook is the most frequently used site for corporate communication (Tao and Wilson, 2015). Nevertheless, when exploring the previous literature relating CSR engagement and social media, it is clear that little is known about how SNSs have empirically changed the effect of companies’ communications about CSR engagement on consumer attitudes and behaviours. For instance, it is well-known that consumers are looking for electronic word-of-mouth (eWOM) to make any purchase decision (Chu and Kim, 2011) and previous studies have revealed that eWOM is more effective than offline WOM (Chu and Kim, 2011; Phelps et al., 2004). However, researchers still have a limited understanding of how eWOM affects dialogic conversation in the context of CSR. It is also vital to note that CSR communication on online platforms is not without risk (Vo et al., 2017). It faces many challenges like how to trade-off between two distinct goals: (1) maximising consumers’ awareness of companies’ CSR engagement (Fatma and Rahman, 2016); and (2) minimising consumer scepticism of companies’ motive for engaging in CSR (Du et al., 2011). Considering these ideas, in this paper we base our argument on legitimacy theory to examine the influence of the online communication of companies’ CSR engagement on consumers’ eWOM. Based on the principles of social identity theory, we also explore the role of C-C identification as a mediator in the CSR–eWOM relationship. We decided to explore C- C identification because the extant literature has claimed that CSR engagement can be used to engender identification (Baskentli et al., 2019). Nonetheless, the study of C-C identification has been neglected in the online context. In testing the conceptual model, our goal is to deepen the empirical understanding of the effect that social media has on eWOM in the context of CSR engagement in the retail banking industry. In doing so, the study contributes to the literature in various ways. First, the present study examines the influence of company-related attributes (i.e. CSR attributes) presented on SNSs on consumers’ behaviour. Company-related attributes are distinct from product- and service-related attributes because they relate to social issues and so they are likely to generate more discussion on social media. Second, this study contributes to the literature by enriching researchers’ understanding of how CSR engagement influences the eWOM on social media through C-C identification. The three variables have rarely been analysed together in the previous literature in the online context. IJOA 28,4 942
  4. 4. 2. Literature review and hypothesis development 2.1 Legitimacy via corporate social responsibility engagement Legitimacy theory implies a “social contract” exists between society and the business (Fatma et al., 2018). This contract entails whether the business operates within the norm set by society or simply the expectation of the society. Companies need to ensure that this contract is not breached to maintain their legitimacy (Bela, 2008), which is essential for the company’s growth and survival (Suchman, 1995). More precisely, legitimacy refers to a “generalized perception or assumption that the actions of any entity are desirable, proper, or appropriate within some socially constructed system of norms, values, beliefs and definitions” (Suchman, 1995, p. 574). Consequently, legitimacy does not mean what a company possesses but rather how stakeholders perceive the company; it has been used by the public to justify a company’s “right to exist” (Maurer, 1971, p. 361). Stakeholders are willing to support a company that has achieved legitimacy (Maignan and Ferrell, 2004). A company’s engagement in CSR creates an ethical corporate image (Fatma and Rahman, 2017) and thus enhances its legitimacy (Du and Vieira, 2012), which may lead to favourable stakeholder perceptions about the company (Fatma and Rahman, 2017). For instance, a company’s CSR engagement can foster consumer trust in the company, which may lead to increased patronage (Park et al., 2014). Socially responsible companies also have advantage in attracting a talented workforce (Mirvis, 2012), as well as attracting company investors (Maignan and Ferrell, 2004). Therefore, a company can reap legitimacy benefits from its CSR engagement (Suchman, 1995). Most notably, CSR communication plays a critical role. Companies can communicate their CSR engagement through SNSs (Dawkins, 2004), which can enhance both CSR awareness (Pomering and Dolnicar, 2009) and its legitimacy (Fatma et al., 2018). 2.2 Corporate social responsibility engagement CSR engagement refers to how companies are identifying and communicating their CSR- related activities for the purpose of commercial output. The present study uses the Sampaio et al. (2012) approach to define CSR engagement, namely, it is an umbrella term that refers to business responses to social and environmental issues, including their motivation for adopting such policies. There is growing evidence in the literature that shows the increasing importance of CSR engagement. First, CSR engagement brings a myriad of potential benefits to the company and society (Carroll and Shabana, 2010). Moreover, companies are engaging in CSR activities because it is the right thing to do (Bansal and Roth, 2000). Subsequently, CSR engagement is taken as a step towards strategic investment by moral managers (Porter and Kramer, 2006). Finally, companies with CSR engagement are more likely to disclose their CSR-related activities on public domains (Dhaliwal et al., 2011). Consequently, more transparency reduces the information asymmetry aimed at different stakeholder groups. 2.3 Corporate social responsibility engagement via social media Social media has become a crucial part of everyday life and has improved understanding about people’s preferences and needs based on the information they share on SNSs. This form of online media facilitates communication through a friendly interface (Pannunzio and Nelson, 2008). It is also used by companies to share their product related information, receiving feedback from the consumers, making announcements concerning company activities and engaging in conversation with the community and general public (Stone, 2009). Effect of CSR engagement 943
  5. 5. Specifically, this form of media is increasingly used by many companies of different sizes and types to communicate their social engagement (Colleoni, 2013). Du et al. (2011) state that the use of social media may enhance the effectiveness of CSR communication because messages can easily be shared with the general public. Even though there are numerous concerns with using social media, such as a loss of control over data, information privacy and industry safety standards (Scarborough, 2010), this type of media can help companies to adequately position or reposition their CSR (Bauer, 2014). For instance, it helps to reduce information asymmetries by creating awareness and expanding audiences (Zerfass et al., 2012), because CSR engagement communicated through SNSs is perceived to be more credible than company controlled messages (Lyon and Montgomery, 2013). Despite the relevance of CSR engagement through social media, the CSR literature has not fully captured this relation. CSR researchers are just starting to explore how social media impacts business–society relations (Whelan et al., 2013). Thus, we believe that analysing CSR engagement through social media is going to be a key contribution to the CSR literature. In making our contributions, we draw on the social identity theory literature to propose that, in comparison to traditional media (e.g. TV, print, radio), social media (e.g. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) offers multidirectional communication with high speed and low cost. The decentralised and interactive characteristics of social media are significant for CSR engagement. Social media empowers individuals to democratise social relations by reducing the costs that individuals’ face when it comes to raising their voice (Whelan et al., 2013). 2.4 Electronic word-of-mouth Positive WOM relates to favourable communication about a company that a consumer is willing to share with others (Lacey and Kennett-Hensel, 2010). The favourable role of WOM is well understood in acquiring new consumers (Zeithaml et al., 1996). More precisely, WOM is shown to influence attitudes, awareness, perceptions, expectations, behaviour intention and actual purchase behaviour both in the offline and online contexts (Ward and Lee, 2000). Therefore, WOM is especially important for companies (Solis, 2011), which are capable of using positive WOM to increase the success of their marketing and promotions (Chen and Xie, 2008). With the emergence of the internet, social media has facilitated online WOM, which is known as eWOM. eWOM in the online context is defined as: [. . .] any positive or negative statement made by potential, actual, or former customers about a product or company, which is made available to a multitude of people and institutions via the internet (Hennig-Thurau et al., 2004, p. 39) With the diffusion of information technology and Web 2.0, attracting people and forming an online community are no longer a tough task for companies. This form of relationship is built up using a network of people with shared interests and no centralised control. Thus, building social relationship and bonding with peers are the primary activities among SNS users. In this context, the ideas spread through this network via eWOM are perceived to be highly credible by the users because they are based on group similarities (Colleoni, 2013). 2.5 Corporate social responsibility engagement and electronic word-of-mouth Furthermore, companies engage in CSR for many reasons (Vo et al., 2017), including gaining positive WOM (Rim et al., 2016). CSR engagement results in consumers being willing to talk about companies’ socially responsible activities to their friends, families and colleagues (Bhattacharya and Sen, 2004). Therefore, companies’ engagement in CSR helps them to construct their socially responsible image. For this purpose, eWOM on SNSs has many IJOA 28,4 944
  6. 6. advantages as it quickly and spontaneously disseminates the information compared to offline WOM. It can also be used in the setting out of companies’ shared values and CSR agenda (Fieseler and Fleck, 2013). This becomes imperative in identifying how CSR engagement influences eWOM in online hangouts. Thus, the following hypothesis is proposed: H1. Companies’ CSR engagement has a positive influence on eWOM on social media. 2.6 Consumer–company identification According to social identity theory, people tend to classify themselves and others into various social categories, such as religious affiliation, organisational membership, age cohort and gender (Tajfel and Turner, 1979). Social classification serves two purposes (Bhattacharya and Sen, 2004). First, it segments the social environment and provides individuals with a systematic method of defining others. Second, their identification with a specific category enables individuals to define or locate themselves in the social environment. In this context, C-C identification is a specific form of social identification (Fatma et al., 2018). In the present study, we define C-C identification as a perceived feeling of oneness with the company (Mael and Ashforth, 1992). C-C identification expresses the reason that motivates individuals to relate themselves with the company. This occurs through a cognitive categorisation process during which an individual views himself/herself as a member of an organisation and tries to find the similarity or overlap in his/her identity and company characteristics. Because of this type of connection, the company is emotionally accepted as part of the individual’s social identity (Scott and Lane, 2000). Therefore, consumers also have a need for self-definition that is fulfilled through identifying and developing the social exchange relationship (Dutton et al., 1994). Du and Vieira (2012) suggest that when individuals identify with the company they become “psychologically attached to and care about the company and its products” (p. 227). Subsequently, they engage in behaviour that is “directed toward preserving, supporting, and improving the organization” (p. 577), as stated by Ahearne et al. (2005). 2.7 Corporate social responsibility engagement and consumer–company identification When discussing C-C identification, it is critical to be aware that consumers identify not only with the companies’ products and services but also with companies themselves (Bhattacharya and Sen, 2004). In this regard, CSR engagement plays an important role in the corporate identity that may induce consumers to identify and develop a sense of connectedness with the company (Marín et al., 2009). Lichtenstein et al. (2004, p. 17) state that “the way that CSR initiatives create benefits for companies appears to be by increasing consumers’ identification with the company”. The ability to establish congruence between the individuals’ expectation and CSR activities depends upon how the CSR is communicated with different stakeholders (Lee et al., 2013). With the diffusion of social media, such as Facebook or Twitter, people are no longer passive receivers of communication. Rather, they actively engage in the evaluation and creation of content (Mirvis, 2012), which results in increased awareness about companies’ CSR engagement (Pomering and Dolnicar, 2009) and, therefore, increased C-C identification as well. For this, consumers who are aware of companies’ CSR engagement develop a stronger sense of identification compared to those who are not aware of such activities (Bhattacharya and Sen, 2004; Fatma and Rahman, 2016). Additionally, individuals are more likely to identify with highly socially responsible Effect of CSR engagement 945
  7. 7. activities to express ethical or moral values that enhance their self-esteem (Reed and Aquino, 2003). Thus, the following hypothesis is proposed: H2. Companies’ CSR engagement has a positive influence on C-C identification on social media. 2.8 Mediating effect of consumer–company identification between corporate social responsibility engagement and electronic word-of-mouth Based on the prediction of social identity theory (Tajfel and Turner, 1979), consumers with a strong level of C-C identification are prone to engage in extra role behaviour, such as a positive evaluation of company, supporting its products and brand loyalty. (Ahearne et al., 2005; Bhattacharya and Sen, 2003). If the consumers identify themselves with the company or brand, they tend to make positive recommendations about it (Algesheimer et al., 2005) and provide positive WOM (Arnett et al., 2003). It is likely that at least part of consumers’ willingness to talk about companies they perceive to be socially responsible is based on their identification with the company (Bhattacharya and Sen, 2004) because it enhances their self- esteem and projects an ethical and social image (Aquino and Reed, 2002). Companies’ CSR engagement through social media provides a more favourable context for consumers to evaluate the company and engage in conversations with others that may result in positive eWOM. Social media platforms enable the individuals to participate in a collaborative and co-creative environment, as well as providing numerous ways for companies to connect with their customers and build relationships and trust with them. This form of relationship is more enduring and long lasting (Sen and Bhattacharya, 2001). Based on Baron and Kenny’s (1986) logic of mediation, we assume that consumers’ identification with a company will mediate the relation between a company’s CSR engagement and positive eWOM on social media. Thus, the following hypothesis is proposed: H3. C-C identification mediates the relation between companies’ CSR engagement and positive eWOM on social media. 3. Method 3.1 Sample selection The population of the study includes consumers who evaluate Indian banks that have a brand page on Facebook. Indian banks are embracing the social media space in a big way. SNSs are used by many banks to promote their products, resolve consumer queries, improve the brand image, make important announcements, etc. In this context, Indian banks have six million fans on Facebook (www.indiainfoline.com). Amongst them, the private sector banks (e.g. ICICI, HDFC and Axis) possess the highest number of followers on Facebook. Therefore, respondents are: customers of a bank; they also have a Facebook account; and they are followers of Indian banks’ brand pages on Facebook. We have used a sample that exclusively includes customers and, to control for this issue, we asked the respondents whether they were employees in the banking industry. We excluded employees from the sample based on a positive response to this question. A convenience sampling technique was used to select the sample. To guarantee the respondents’ IJOA 28,4 946
  8. 8. representativeness, three initial screening questions were asked. First, respondents were asked Are you a user of any banking service? Then, Do you have a Facebook account that you have accessed during the last month? (Lipsman et al., 2012). The third question was, Do you follow your bank brand page on Facebook? Only those respondents who answered “yes” to all the questions were allowed to take part in the survey. Respondents were advised to answer the questions considering a bank that they had already shared information with on Facebook. After confirming the answer of these respective questions, the final survey link was mailed to the respondents. Respondents were asked to answer the survey questions on the basis of their perception of their banks’ CSR engagement on Facebook. The data were collected online from July to August 2018. After data collection and filtering, a total of 239 valid surveys were retained for analysis. 3.2 Measures All the measurement items used in this study were taken from previous studies. Items were measured on a seven-point Likert scale ranging from strongly disagree (1) to strongly agree (7). At the preliminary stage, a pilot test of the questionnaire was conducted with graduate students to evaluate the reliability, comprehensibility, wording and ambiguity of the scale items (Hair et al., 2016). In our model, the independent variable, CSR engagement, was measured with a five-item scale taken from the study of Klein and Dawar (2004) and Brown and Dacin (1997). A four-item scale taken from Mael and Ashforth (1992) was used to measure C-C identification. eWOM was measured with a three-item scale adapted from the study of Zeithaml et al. (1996). All of the scale items are listed in the Appendix. 4. Analysis and results The present study used three methods to reduce common method bias. First, the identity of the respondents was kept anonymous. Second, Harman’s single factor was applied. According to this test, one factor would cause the majority of variance in the independent and dependent variables if common bias existed (Podsakoff et al., 2012). However, the results of an exploratory analysis showed three factors with variances of 17.34, 28.92 and 34.92 per cent, respectively. Thus, no factor emerged as causing the majority of variance in our model. To further confirm the absence of common method bias, all the variables were loaded on one other variable in the confirmatory factor analysis and the model fit was checked. All the model fit indices revealed a poor fit [comparative fit indice (CFI) = 0.553, GFI = 0.690, normative fit indice (NFI) = 0.712, root mean square error of approximation (RMSEA) = 0.120]. Consequently, the findings indicated that common method bias was not present in the sample data (Podsakoff et al., 2003). 4.1 Validation of the measurement model Confirmatory factor analysis was carried out with the data to test the measurement model using maximum likelihood estimation. All the model fit indices were in an acceptable range (x2 = 269.310, df = 66, p = 0.000, CFI = 0.912, GFI = 0.979; NFI = 0.891; RMSEA = 0.600, root mean square residual (RMR) = 0.400), confirming the model fit. As shown in Table I, the Cronbach’s alphas of all the measures were higher than 0.80, demonstrating adequate internal consistency (Bagozzi and Yi, 1988). The reliability of the measurement scales was examined using composite reliability. The composite reliability of all the constructs exceeded 0.700. Therefore, the composite reliability of all the measures was deemed satisfactory. The convergent validity of the model was examined by exploring the average variance extracted (AVE) value of each construct. The AVE of each construct was above 0.500, suggesting the measurement model possessed good convergent validity (Fornell and Larcker, 1981), as shown in Table I. To assess Effect of CSR engagement 947
  9. 9. the discriminant validity of the measures, the square root of the AVE of each construct was compared with the correlation of that construct with the other constructs in the model. As shown in Table II, the square root of the AVE of each construct was larger than its correlation with other constructs, thus confirming the discriminant validity of the model. 4.2 Hypothesis testing The proposed hypothesised relationships (Figure 1) were tested using structural equation modelling with partial lease sqaure (PLS-SEM). PLS-SEM is a causal modelling approach intended to maximise the explained variance of the dependent latent constructs. This path modelling proves to be a “silver bullet” in estimating theoretical models and empirical data situations (Hair et al., 2016). In our conceptual model, all of the model fit indices were within Table I. Results of the first- order confirmatory factor analysis of the conceptual model Constructs Item Factor loadings a CR AVE CSR engagement CSR1 0.700 0.890 0.830 0.640 CSR2 0.650 CSR3 0.910 CSR4 0.890 CSR5 0.780 C-C identification CCI1 0.840 0.830 0.860 0.770 CCI2 0.790 CCI3 0.660 CCI4 0.710 eWOM WOM1 0.970 0.870 0.910 0.730 WOM2 0.910 WOM3 0.890 x2 = 269.310, df = 66, p = 0.000 CFI = 0.912 GFI = 0.979 NFI = 0.891 RMSEA = 0.600 RMR = 0.400 Notes: CFI = Comparative fit indice; NFI = normative fit indice; RMSEA = root mean square error of approximation; RMR = root mean square residual Table II. Descriptive statistics and discriminant validity CSR CCI eWOM Mean SD CSR 1.000 3.120 0.390 CCI 0.450** 1.000 4.560 0.490 eWOM 0.360* 0.170* 1.000 3.760 0.610 Notes: p 0.050* and p 0.010**; SD Standard deviation Figure 1. Hypothesised model H2 H3 H3 eWOM CCI CSR Indirect effect IJOA 28,4 948
  10. 10. the acceptable range. The structural model has a statistically significant value (x2 = 321.310, df = 76, p = 0.000, GFI = 0.899; CFI = 0.911, NFI = 0.923, RMR = 0.300, RMSEA = 0.700). Thus, we conclude that the proposed model fits the data well. The results of the hypothesis test are illustrated in Table III. H1 states that companies’ engagement in CSR activities has a positive influence on eWOM on social media; thus H1 is supported (b = 0.210, p 0.050). In this regard, eWOM behaviour is consistent with the social nature of legitimation (Handelman and Arnold, 1999). For example, if a company is involved in CSR and it engages in dialogic conversation on social media, CSR engagement can have an important impact on the positive eWOM. H2 states that CSR engagement has a positive influence on C-C identification on social media; thus H2 is supported (b = 0.260, p 0.050). According to social identity theory, if a company engages in socially responsible activities, consumers tend to increasingly identify with the company. As Du et al. (2011) state CSR-based identification is more distinct and enduring compared to other conventional positioning strategies because it satisfies the self- definitional needs of the consumer. Previous research has also reported that CSR influences C-C identification (Sen and Bhattacharya, 2001). The analysis also reveals that the corresponding indirect (mediated) effect is significant. C-C identification thus mediates the relationship between CSR engagement and eWOM on social media, in support of H3 (b = 0.620, p 0.010). This finding is consistent with the social identity theory’s assumptions that imply the more the consumer identifies with the company based on its socially responsible image, the more he/she is willing to talk positively about the company to others (He and Li, 2011). The findings of the study show the great importance of CSR engagement in that it heavily influences C-C identification and demonstrates that consumers are willing to talk positively about companies if they identify with them. The idea behind eWOM through social media is that companies’ information can spread easily from one person to another (Colleoni, 2013). This direct way of communication can develop an active engagement between the company and its stakeholders. It also provides a great opportunity to consumers to become familiar with the company (Tsimonis and Dimitriadis, 2014) and identify with it (Tuškej et al., 2013). 5. Conclusions and implications The present study investigated the direct influence of CSR engagement on C-C identification and eWOM. Furthermore, we examined the mediating influence of C-C identification in the relationship between CSR engagement and eWOM. First, our results highlight the opportunities brought about by new technology such as online social media to the service industry (Bitner et al., 2008). It has been a general belief that social media loses control over content, but this is “more [a] perception [than] a reality” (Stone, 2009, p. 109). On the contrary, it has been claimed that WOM in the non-digital banking industry cannot be controlled among consumers either (Stone, 2009). Instead, banks are requested to learn how to think “the social media way” and become accustomed to online communication, including the communication of their CSR engagement to consumers. In this age of social media, it is increasingly easy for us to be confused between the actual matter and the opinion of faceless Table III. Hypothesis testing (direct and indirect effects) CSR CCI eWOM Direct effect 0.260; p 0.050 0.210; p 0.050 Indirect effect NH 0.620; p 0.010 via CCI Effect of CSR engagement 949
  11. 11. people writing behind anonymity. The present study contributes to the literature by enriching our understanding of how CSR engagement influences eWOM on social media. With the proliferation of social media, Indian banks have understood that likes, shares and tweets do matter in engaging consumers, especially the younger generation. Indian banks are posting on Facebook about their CSR activities and these posts are generating millions of likes and engaging customers to generate positive WOM. This study provides a suggestion to banks that their CSR engagement not only helps their social implications but also leads to business outcomes by building a strong corporate image. 5.1 Theoretical implications Despite the plethora of research on this area, CSR remains a contested topic and its conceptualisation and practices vary considerably. Apart from this, CSR communication is a complex task, for which no universal formula exists (Maggon and Chaudhry, 2015). The increasing popularity of social media has changed how people interact with each other and has paved the way for social commerce. The present study contributes to the CSR and online research literature by highlighting the emerging use of social media. Of theoretical concern, this study connects the social identity perspective to CSR in the online context, something not previously explored. 5.2 Practical implications The emergence of the internet and social media has given ample opportunities to banks and other companies to communicate about CSR engagement and connect with their consumers using dialogic conversation. At present, India is becoming globally integrated and companies are transforming into powerful economic and social institutions. The country has seen a rise in CSR momentum, the reason for this being that, since 2013, the government has mandated CSR in the Companies Act, 2013 (Fatma and Rahman, 2016). In India, CSR has been undertaken in broad community categories, such as health, education, art and culture and infrastructure (Fatma and Rahman, 2014). Currently, both the Indian government and the general public have higher expectations from Indian banks to contribute towards social welfare. The findings in the present study suggest that CSR communication on SNSs engages consumers and also helps them to identify with the companies and increase their eWOM. This study investigates this effect by collecting the natural conversations of people on an open social media platform. Based on this finding, we suggest that managers should communicate about CSR engagement on social media to favourably influence both identification and eWOM. Focusing on company visibility via CSR communications on online platforms may positively influence companies’ level of goodwill. Such efforts are likely to increase consumers’ identification with the company, making him/her feel proud about the company and engage in positive eWOM. Results also suggest that a company should invest in corporate identity management because of its relevance in its target market. By strategically managing its corporate identity, a company can leverage the benefits of favourable consumer outcomes (e.g. identification, eWOM, etc.). Findings suggest that banks should engage in CSR communication on Facebook as an on-going process rather than a onetime activity. This is critical if the company wants to increase awareness of its CSR engagement. Discussing the CSR engagement of the companies on online platforms provides practitioners with an opportunity to reach their target audience and increase awareness about CSR. This also leads to a high level of information diffusion to both consumers and non-consumers. IJOA 28,4 950
  12. 12. The banking industry is in the initial phase of expanding their presence on social media and using Facebook as a medium to connect with consumers. Most of the banks are sceptical about issues such as the misuse of data, lack of control over communication, privacy and negative consequences concerning safety standards (Klimis, 2010). Nevertheless, the Reserve Bank of India is advising banks to increase their presence on social media. Experts also believe that to take banking to the next stage, Indian banks will have to continue to invest in social media and mobile platforms. They should continuously experiment with various social media tools and channels to strengthen their brand, enable payments, improve their visibility and build their image. US banks, such as the Bank of America and Citibank have a strong presence on social media and provide interactive service support to their consumers through Web 2.0 channels (Stone, 2009). 5.3 Limitations and directions for future research This study has made an effort to step forward in this area of CSR and eWOM through identification in the online context; we believe this can serve as a stepping-stone for future research. Further research can seek to apply a similar framework in other areas to test its reliability and applicability. This study contributes to the field of online communication and CSR in several ways, although some shortcomings need to be put forward. First, the present study focused only on Facebook, whereas other SNSs can also be considered during further investigations to achieve more insight into this area. Second, we encourage research on the role of “identity salience” in consumers’ identification with the company. This concept has gained increased visibility within the identification research literature (Huang et al., 2017; Vo et al., 2017). We also encourage future research to test other mediating pathways that may lead to positive eWOM in the online context. This model can be tested in other industry sectors where the nature of service is less complex than banking services. Finally, different industry characteristics affect consumers’ perception of company activities and would also determine their consumer marketing communications. References Ahearne, M., Bhattacharya, C.B. and Gruen, T. (2005), “Antecedents and consequences of customer- company identification: expanding the role of relationship marketing”, Journal of Applied Psychology, Vol. 90 No. 3, p. 574. Aladwani, A.M. (2014), “Gravitating towards Facebook (GoToFB): what it is? And how can it be measured?”, Computers in Human Behavior, Vol. 33, pp. 270-278. Algesheimer, R., Dholakia, U.M. and Herrmann, A. (2005), “The social influence of brand community: evidence from European car clubs”, Journal of Marketing, Vol. 69 No. 3, pp. 19-34. Aquino, K. and Reed, I.I. (2002), “The self-importance of moral identity”, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol. 83 No. 6, pp. 14-23. Arnett, D.B., German, S.D. and Hunt, S.D. (2003), “The identity salience model of relationship marketing success: the case of nonprofit marketing”, Journal of Marketing, Vol. 67 No. 2, pp. 89-105. Bagozzi, R.P. and Yi, Y. (1988), “On the evaluation of structural equation models”, Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, Vol. 16 No. 1, pp. 74-94. Bansal, P. and Roth, K. (2000), “Why companies go green: a model of ecological responsiveness”, Academy of Management Journal, Vol. 43 No. 4, pp. 717-736. Baron, R.M. and Kenny, D.A. (1986), “The moderator–mediator variable distinction in social psychological research: conceptual, strategic, and statistical considerations”, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol. 51 No. 6, pp. 1173-1182. Effect of CSR engagement 951
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  17. 17. Appendix Corresponding author Mobin Fatma can be contacted at: mobinfatimambd@gmail.com For instructions on how to order reprints of this article, please visit our website: www.emeraldgrouppublishing.com/licensing/reprints.htm Or contact us for further details: permissions@emeraldinsight.com Table AI. Scale items Scale items Source CSR engagement This bank . . . CSR1 . . . is socially responsible Klein and Dawar (2004), Brown and Dacin (1997) CSR2 . . . contributes to the welfare of society CSR3 . . . contributes to the donation program CSR4 . . . doesn’t harm the environment CSR5 . . . contributes to recover from economic crises C-C identification CCI1 When someone criticizes X it feels like a personal insult Mael and Ashforth (1992) CCI2 I am very interested in what others think about X CCI3 When I talk about X, I usually say “we” rather than “they” CCI4 When someone compliments X then it feels like a personal compliment eWOM WOM1 I would recommend this bank to someone who seeks my advice Zeithaml et al. (1996) WOM2 I encourage friends and relatives to be a customer of this bank WOM3 I say positive things about the bank to other people IJOA 28,4 956 View publication stats View publication stats

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