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JBR-08878; No of Pages 7

Journal of Business Research xxx (2016) xxx–xxx

Contents lists available at ScienceDirect

Journal of Business Research

Strategic partnerships with nonprofits in corporate social responsibility (CSR):

The mediating role of perceived altruism and organizational identification
Hyejoon Rim a,⁎, Sung-Un Yang b, Jaejin Lee c
School of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Minnesota, 206 Church St. SE., 111 Murphy Hall, Minneapolis, MN 55455, United States
School of Journalism, Indiana University, Bloomington, 940 E Seventh Street, Bloomington, IN 47405, United States
College of Communication, Florida State University, P.O. Box 3062664, Tallahassee, FL 32306, United States

a r t i c l e i n f o a b s t r a c t

Article history: To provide insight for nonprofits and for-profits generating synergetic alliance, this study investigates how prior
Received 8 February 2015 corporate reputation, nonprofit brand familiarity, and fit between company and nonprofit influence supportive
Received in revised form 22 February 2016 CSR outcomes. The study also examines the mediation role of perceived altruism and consumer–company iden-
Accepted 23 February 2016
tification in such associations. The results show the significant main effects of corporate reputation, nonprofit fa-
Available online xxxx
miliarity, and company–nonprofit fit on supportive CSR outcomes. More importantly, results show that perceived
altruism and the consumer–company identification significantly mediates the influence of a CSR partnership on
CSR supportive CSR outcomes. Interestingly, the direct effect of corporate reputation on consumer–company identi-
Company reputation fication was not significant, suggesting that for a company to induce strong identification from consumers, the
Nonprofit partnership effects of corporate reputation should be mediated by its altruistic motives for practicing CSR activities.
Perceived altruism © 2016 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Consumer–company identification

1. Introduction and familiarity that alter the partnership effects (e.g. Lafferty, 2007,
Lafferty, 2009, Perera & Chaminda, 2013), but mostly focused on their
A company–nonprofit partnership to support causes has become a impact on consumer attitudes toward the company and/or purchase in-
popular corporate social responsibility (CSR) practice that adds value tention. As the ultimate goal of a company–nonprofit partnership is to
to both partnered organizations (Lafferty & Goldsmith, 2005). From a support a cause, partnership effects should also be examined based on
nonprofit's point of view, a company partner works as new sources of consumers' supportive CSR intentions.
revenue, which is vital to a nonprofit's operation (Park, Hitchon, & Moreover, partnership effects may differ by how consumers attri-
Yun, 2004). A company, on the other hand, takes advantage of the trust- bute alliance motives and to what extent consumers identify with
worthy images and expertise of nonprofits that may attenuate con- the company, which we propose as possible missing links between
sumers' skepticism toward CSR practices while enhancing consumers' partnership effects and supportive CSR outcomes. Studies suggest
support of both organizations and CSR. Consumer surveys confirm a that when people question a company's sincerity in its CSR commitment,
growing interest in supporting social causes and nonprofits, as 78% of they may judge a company's CSR practices negatively (Becker-Olsen,
Americans believe a partnership between a nonprofit and a company Cudmore, & Hill, 2006; Vlachos, Tsamakos, Vrechopoulou, & Avramidis,
they trust makes a cause stand out, and 59% of Americans are more like- 2009). Given the nature of a nonprofit, a company's partnership with a
ly to purchase a product associated with a nonprofit (Cone Inc., 2010). In nonprofit may help a company in diminishing its self-driven motives of
addition to creating economic value, a company–nonprofit partnership CSR in the public's eye. In addition, as a nonprofit's cause or brand pro-
contributes to establishing social, cultural and political capital by vides symbolic benefits rather than functional ones to the consumers,
exploiting both sectors' expertise (Shumate & O'Connor, 2010). partnership may increase consumer–company identification (CCI) inten-
While partnership between companies and nonprofits has been tion, but no research has yet focused on these relationships.
gaining attention, little is known about its contingent effects. For in- Thus, the purpose of this study is two-fold. First, expanding previous
stance, depending on each partner's existing attributes, such as reputa- research on company–nonprofit partnership, the study examines the
tion or brand familiarity with consumers, partnership effects may differ. moderating roles of prior corporate reputation, nonprofit familiarity,
Past research has documented the importance of corporate credibility and a company–nonprofit fit on consumer attribution of CSR motives,
CCI intentions, and supportive CSR outcomes. Second, to further under-
⁎ Corresponding author. Tel.: +1 612 624 2491.
stand consumers' evaluation process of a company–nonprofit partner-
E-mail addresses: (H. Rim), (S.-U. Yang), ship, the study investigates the mediating roles of perceived altruism (J. Lee). of the partnerships and the degree of consumer–company identification
0148-2963/© 2016 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Please cite this article as: Rim, H., et al., Strategic partnerships with nonprofits in corporate social responsibility (CSR): The mediating role of
perceived altruism and orga..., Journal of Business Research (2016),
2 H. Rim et al. / Journal of Business Research xxx (2016) xxx–xxx

intention. Examining the factors that influence partnership effective- persuasion strategy that influences the public to support a worthy
ness, including consumers' attribution of partnering motives and CCI, cause (Cornwell & Coote, 2005). Aaker et al. (2010) explain the part-
is a necessary step for both for-profits and nonprofits furthering their nership effects based on consumer psychology literature. They dem-
strategic CSR practices. onstrated that coexistence of a nonprofit's stereotypical image of
warmth and a company's competence boosts consumers' feelings of
2. Literature review admiration for the organization, which eventually increases their
willingness to buy products from the organization either nonprofit
2.1. Partnership with nonprofits as strategic CSR or for-profit. Partnering with nonprofit organizations to engage in
cause-supporting activities help a company brand to create intangi-
Broadly, CSR can be defined as a corporation's involvement and in- ble associations and feelings, which are relatively difficult to create.
vestment of its resources for the betterment of society and the public CSR activities enhance brand image by creating brand meaning and
that has supported the organization (Frederick, 1994). The concept of differentiation. The current study considers enhancing positive atti-
CSR expanded in the late 1950s and 1960s in response to the increased tudes toward a company and positive word-of-mouth (WOM) commu-
business regulations, but the concept progressively rationalized and as- nications toward both company and nonprofit organizations as
sociated with broader organizational goals such as reputation manage- supportive outcomes of CSR partnership.
ment (Lee, 2008). According to Carroll (2000), “strategic philanthropy”
helps an organization to achieve its objectives and to create social ben- 2.1.2. Effects of nonprofit partnership on perceived altruism
efits at the same time (p. 37). A growing number of studies confirmed Perceived altruism in this study refers to when people attribute a
that consumers have generally favorable attitudes toward companies company's motives for CSR to enhancing the welfare of society even at
that support social causes (Bae & Cameron, 2006), and are more likely the expense of the company's own benefit. While CSR stands for a
to purchase products from socially responsible companies (Perera & company's commitment to maximizing its long-term beneficial impact
Chaminda, 2013; Sen & Bhattacharya, 2001). Wang, Chen, Yu, and on society, the motivation is not entirely altruistic. Rather, in many
Hsiao (2015) demonstrate positive relationships among CSR, brand cases, companies consider the impact of CSR investment on the bottom
equity, and firm performance, suggesting that CSR, as an intangible cor- line (Van Rekom, Go, & Calter, 2014). More importantly, the public
porate asset, positively affects firm performance. The benefits of CSR are reacts differently depending on what it perceives as a company's mo-
also confirmed by employees' relationship perspectives. Lee, Park, and tives for engaging in CSR. Vaidyanathan and Aggarwal (2005) focus on
Lee (2013) argue that a company's support of a social cause strengthens cause-related marketing and suggest that people form less positive atti-
an employee's emotional attachment to the company, hence, creating a tudes when they are suspicious about a company's sincerity. Bae and
lower turnover intention. Cameron (2006) also show that suspicion of true intention negatively
One way that CSR creates such transactional and relational bene- affects people's attitudes toward a company. One study finds that
fits appears to be by increasing perceived altruism and CCI intention, value-driven attributions positively influence consumer trust and rec-
which refers to the public's perception of oneness with or connection ommendation intention whereas ego-driven attributions diminish
to an organization due to attributes shared with the company's cor- trust and negatively influence supportive intention (Vlachos et al.,
porate identity (Dutton, Dukerich, & Harquail, 1994). Sen and 2009). Given that a nonprofit has greater public trust regarding social is-
Bhattacharya (2001) manipulated CSR to find its effects on CCI and sues than a corporation (Wootliff & Deri, 2001), a company may strate-
revealed that CSR activities influence consumers' intentions to iden- gically take advantage of a nonprofit's trustworthy image and its
tify with the company by positioning themselves in a socially attrac- expertise in supporting a cause, and thus can enhance the public's ten-
tive manner. Findings by Murray and Vogel (1997) are consistent dency to view the company's CSR practices as sincere and rooted in
with these results. goodwill.
Partnering between a company and a nonprofit organization in sup-
port of a social cause creates a synergistic alliance by sharing objectives 2.1.3. Effects of nonprofit partnership on consumer–company identification
and resources. For example, nonprofits can help a company partner to (CCI)
increase the company image and the bottom line, while the company This study considers CCI as a consequence of nonprofit partnership
can offer a nonprofit partner the new sources of revenue that is a vital and explores the possible mediating role of CCI between partnership
for its sustainability (Park et al., 2004). Shumate and O'Connor (2010) effects and supportive CSR outcomes. Scholars suggest that one way
describe NGO-corporate alliance as a symbiotic sustainability model, that CSR creates relational benefits appears to be by increasing CCI
which presents co-creating value of “economic, social, cultural, and (Du et al., 2007; Marin & Ruiz, 2007; Perez, 2009). CCI is defined as
political capital” (p. 578). That is, nonprofit partnership increases the the consumer's perception of his or her oneness with or connection to
possibility of corporations supporting communities in a sustainable a brand, where the customer defines himself by the same attributes
form. Researchers argue that a company can expect halo effects from that he believes define the corporate brand (Dutton et al., 1994). The
the nonprofit brand in terms of shared credibility, visibility, and warmth extent to which individuals identify with organizations depends on
images, thereby generating communication efficiencies (Aaker, Vohs, & whether identifying with organizations contributes to their self-
Mogilner, 2010). In the advertising context, Park et al. (2004) suggest esteem (Du et al., 2007). That is, individuals are more likely to identify
that alignment advertising that promotes a social cause while promot- with organizations that have socially desirable qualities because it
ing a brand as a sponsor of the cause produces more favorable consumer may help them enhance their self-esteem. Du et al. (2007) argue that
responses, therefore is an effective form of marketing communication engaging in CSR initiatives “humanizes” organizations (p. 225) and
tool for both nonprofit and profit organizations. makes it possible for consumers to go beyond simply liking organiza-
tions to identifying with them.
2.1.1. Effects of nonprofit partnership on supportive CSR outcomes When organizations engage in discretionary actions for the commu-
Research has supported the soundness of CSR as a business strategy nity and society, the public is likely to appreciate these organizations,
by demonstrating positive links between consumer perceptions of and a feeling of connection to these organizations may emerge (Perez,
CSR and company evaluations (e.g. Bhattacharya & Sen, 2003, Du, 2009). Marin and Ruiz (2007) state that consumers tend to identify
Bhattacharya, & Sen, 2007). Bhattacharya and Sen (2003) suggest with companies that undertake CSR activities, and that by doing so,
that a company's involvement with a nonprofit has a positive effect they may accomplish “self-difference and self-enhancement” (p. 249).
on both consumers' attitudes toward the company and their willing- Such a feeling of identification fosters a consumer's company supportive
ness to support the nonprofit. Partnering with a nonprofit is also a behaviors. Perez (2009) confirmed that CSR-based CCI mediates the

Please cite this article as: Rim, H., et al., Strategic partnerships with nonprofits in corporate social responsibility (CSR): The mediating role of
perceived altruism and orga..., Journal of Business Research (2016),
H. Rim et al. / Journal of Business Research xxx (2016) xxx–xxx 3

relationships between a company's perceived CSR engagement and consumers are familiar with a nonprofit, the knowledge they have
the consumers' purchase intention. Similarly, Cornwell and Coote about that nonprofit will influence CSR partnership effectiveness.
(2005) found that the more the consumers identify themselves
with the nonprofit organization, the more they are willing to pur- H2a–c. When a company forms a partnership with a nonprofit that
chase sponsoring firms' products. Moreover, a nonprofit partnership has high familiarity, consumers are more likely to have stronger
can be helpful for the company in diminishing self-driven motives (a) supportive CSR intentions, (b) perceived altruism, and (c) CCI in-
for CSR practice as it provides clear evidence of corporate citizenship. tentions than when a company forms a partnership with a nonprofit
Therefore, the nonprofit partnership works as a signal, and can in- that has low familiarity.
crease consumers' intentions to identify with companies and sup-
portive intentions. 2.2.3. Company–nonprofit cause fit
In a cause–brand partnership, perceived fit indicates “how comfort-
2.2. Conditional effects of partnership able consumers are with the cause–brand pairing” (Lafferty et al., 2004,
p. 513), and is present when both the company and nonprofit's cause
2.2.1. Prior corporate reputation serve a similar target consumer or when both the brand and social
Company reputation, which refers to “a cognitive representation of a cause share a similar value (Kuo & Rice, 2015). Previous studies showed
company's actions and results that crystallizes the firm's ability to deliv- that consumers rely on perceived cause–brand fit to infer the appropri-
er valued outcomes to its stakeholders” (Fombrun, Gardberg & Barnett, ateness of the brand to advocate a certain cause (Sen & Bhattacharya,
2000, p. 87), can influence the effectiveness of communication activities 2001), and a strong fit between company and cause, generally, is more
directly and indirectly. Prior company reputation can play an important beneficial because people prefer consistency in their thoughts (Kim,
role in how consumers evaluate the company–nonprofit partnerships Sung, & Lee, 2012). In particular, when consumers use simple heuristic
for CSR practices. According to attribution theory, people engage in cues to judge the appropriateness of associations, they prefer a close
more complex message processing when they have reason to suspect match that verifies transferability of expertise between partnered
the validity of the presented information, but people are less suspicious brands (Kuo & Rice, 2015). One study suggests that a good perceived
about intent if the message or behavior is consistent with what is fit increases perceived authenticity and genuineness of the company’'s
known about previous behavior (Fein, 1996). In an experimental set- social engagement, and thus enhances customers' loyalty (Van Rekom,
ting, Bae and Cameron (2006) demonstrate the role of prior corpo- Go, & Calter, 2014). Kim et al. (2012) differentiate a business fit versus
rate reputation in leveraging the effectiveness of CSR activities. Past an activity fit, and find that consumers attribute the firm's motive to
studies on advertising effectiveness have also confirmed that adver- be more public-serving for high activity fit than for a low-fit. One
tisers with favorable reputations or credibility, which is considered study even found that low congruence negatively influences consumer
one dimension of corporate reputation, attain more positive atti- evaluation in terms of their beliefs, attitudes, and purchase intentions
tudes toward advertisements (Lafferty, 2007) and increased pur- (Becker-Olsen et al., 2006). Therefore, a close match between a
chase intentions (Goldsmith, Lafferty, & Newell, 2000). Therefore, it company's core business and a cause is likely to lead consumers to per-
can be inferred that consumers may use company reputation as a ceive the company as an expert in the related field and to transfer their
cue for the intention of company–nonprofit partnership and their positive feelings about the cause to the company.
evaluation. Simply put, a strong reputation can serve as a signal for
H3a–c. When a company–nonprofit cause partnership involves high fit,
positive company characteristics, which may spill over to compa-
participants are more likely to have stronger (a) supportive CSR inten-
ny–nonprofit partnerships. Therefore,
tions, (b) perceived altruism, and (c) CCI intentions than when a com-
H1a–c. When a company with positive reputation forms a CSR partner- pany–nonprofit partnership involves low fit.
ship with a nonprofit, consumers are more likely to show stronger
(a) supportive CSR intentions, (b) perceived altruism, and (c) CCI inten-
tions than when a company with negative reputation forms a CSR part- 2.3. The mediating roles of perceived altruism and identification
nership with a nonprofit.
2.3.1. Relationship between perceived altruism and identification
Previous studies investigating motivations for engaging in prosocial
2.2.2. Nonprofit familiarity behavior suggest that people intend to position themselves as socially
Brand familiarity is a collection of brand associations that consumers conscious and communicate this by ‘going green.’ In a similar vein, Park,
have stored in their memory (Lafferty, 2009). According to attitude MacInnis, and Priester (2006) noted that a person may use a brand for
accessibility theory, if the attitude toward a certain object is strong, it self-expression, which when successful, positively affects attitudes to-
is easier to store the information in the memory, and thus, easier to ac- ward a company. Kim, Han, and Park (2001) empirically demonstrated
cess that information from memory (Fazio, Powell, & Williams, 1989). that the self-expressive value of a brand personality has a significant effect
Familiar brands tend to produce stronger attitudes due to the extensive on the attractiveness of the brand personality and that the attractiveness
associations the consumer has with them in their memories, making of corporate brand personality is positively related to the consumer's
them more stable and less likely to change as new information is re- identification with the company. Therefore, this study suggests that the
ceived (Simonin & Ruth, 1998). Moreover, when consumers become fa- perceived altruism of a partnership can stimulate consumer's CCI inten-
miliar with a brand, they perceive associated messages as similar to tion that may result in enhanced support for that company.
their existing knowledge and even consider the brand to be more truth-
ful (Lafferty, 2009). Studies also suggest that familiar brands signal trust 2.3.2. Effects of altruism and identification on supportive CSR outcomes
and preference, particularly for consumers who rely solely on brand fa- As aforementioned, when consumers identify themselves with a
miliarity when making a judgment. Ha and Perks (2005) argue that a brand or a company, they are more likely to show supportive behaviors
high level of brand familiarity generates stronger brand satisfaction such as recommending the company to others and proactively commu-
and brand trust as long as consumers do not have a negative perception nicating potential problems to the company. Ahearne, Bhattacharya,
of a certain brand. Similarly, Park et al. (2004) found that the effects of and Gruen (2005) note that individuals who identify with companies
an alignment advertising were greater for an established brand than a engage in self-interested tasks as well as tasks “directed toward
new brand, which supports the advantages of partnering with a familiar preserving, supporting, and improving the organization” (p. 577). Du
brand. Based on previous literature, we expect that when the et al. (2007) suggest that when individuals identify with a company,

Please cite this article as: Rim, H., et al., Strategic partnerships with nonprofits in corporate social responsibility (CSR): The mediating role of
perceived altruism and orga..., Journal of Business Research (2016),
4 H. Rim et al. / Journal of Business Research xxx (2016) xxx–xxx

they become “psychologically attached to and care about the company reputations, (2) to select nonprofit organizations with high and low fa-
and its products” (p. 227), and consequently, they align their interests miliarity, and (3) to assess the level of company–nonprofit congruence.
and behaviors with those that benefit the company. Focusing on trust Based on “The Cone Nonprofit Power Brand 100” report (Cone, 2010),
and CCI as mediators, Sen and Bhattacharya (2001) report that CSR twelve nonprofit brands from various sectors (i.e., health, environmen-
activities affect not only purchase intention, but also the overall evalua- tal/animal, domestic social needs) were initially chosen. Twenty-eight
tion of a company when mediated by consumer–company congruence. participants were asked to evaluate their familiarity of nonprofit and
In sum, based on the preceding discussion, we posit hypotheses related perceived fit between the given pharmaceutical company and nonprofit
to three independent variables that may influence of CSR partnership organization. To this end, for the high-fit condition (M = 6.0), St. Jude
(i.e., prior company reputation, nonprofit's familiarity, perceived fit Children's Research Hospital was selected as the high-familiarity non-
between a company and a nonprofit) on supportive CSR outcomes, profit brand (M = 6.4) whereas the United Cerebral Palsy Association
perceived altruism, and CCI intention, and the mediating role of perceived was selected as the low-familiarity cause brand (M = 2.7). For the
altruism and CCI intention in such associations. low-fit condition (M = 2.0), the Humane Society of the United States
was selected as the high-familiarity cause brand (M = 6.5) whereas
H4. Perceived altruism of a CSR partnership will lead to an increase in Ducks Unlimited was selected as the low-familiarity cause brand
CCI intention. (M = 1.6).
H5. Perceived altruism of a CSR partnership will lead to an increase in
supportive CSR outcomes. 3.3. Measures

H6. CCI intention will lead to an increase in supportive CSR outcomes. 3.3.1. Dependent variables
Perceived altruistic motives are operationalized as the degree of the
consumer's understanding of company's CSR engagement as public-
3. Method
serving. This perception was measured on a seven-point Likert scale
adopted by Rifon, Choi, Trimble, and Li (2004) study with three items
3.1. Participants
(e.g., the company launched the partnership campaign because it truly
cares about the public; α = .91). Considering that CSR partnerships pro-
All participants (N = 337) were volunteers recruited from introduc-
vide more symbolic values than functional values, we operationalized
tory communication courses at a large southeastern university. Extra
CCI intention as the extent of the self-brand connections. CCI intention
credits were offered for completing the behavioral experiment. Of the
was measured by the Escalas (1996) scale with seven items (e.g., the
participants, 68.5% were female and 31.5% were male. The average age
company reflects who I am, I feel a personal connection to the company;
of participants was 20 years (SD = 1.20).
α = .95). This study operationalized Supportive CSR outcomes as the
consumers' positive attitudes and WOM intentions toward organiza-
3.2. Research design and procedure tions that engage in CSR practices. We assessed supportive CSR out-
comes with two constructs (i.e., perceptual and behavioral benefits)
A 2 (corporate reputation: favorable or unfavorable) × 2 (nonprofit's by standardizing and then summing three measures (α = .94): (1) a
familiarity: high or low) × 2 (company–nonprofit cause fit: high or low) three-item measure that assessed attitudes toward the company's part-
between-subjects design was employed. Because the main purpose of nership adopted by Simonin and Ruth (1998), and (2) a three-item
the current study was to provide insights to a company brand when it measure that assessed WOM intention toward a company, and (3) the
comes to choosing a nonprofit for alliance, we used a fictitious company same measure that assessed WOM intention toward a nonprofit organi-
brand to reduce variations potentially caused by participants' previous zation adopted by Price and Arnould (1999). All measures were
experience with a known company brand. assessed with seven-point bipolar semantic differential scales.
Participants were randomly assigned to one of eight experimental
conditions. After completing a consent form, participants were asked 3.3.2. Manipulation check items
to read stimulus materials with company information (i.e., positive or Thirteen items were adopted from the Reputation Quotient scale
negative). Then, they were asked to read information about a partner- (Fombrun, Gardberg, & Sever, 2000) to check the success of manipulat-
ship, which had two levels of nonprofit familiarity (i.e., high or low), ing prior company reputation (α = .97). Example statements include
in high- and low-fit conditions, respectively. Participants were given “this company supports good causes,” “this company has a strong re-
questions to measure supportive CSR intentions, identification inten- cord of profitability.” Each item was measured on a seven-point Likert
tions, and perceived motivation for partnership followed by questions scale. Nonprofit familiarity was measured with three items (e. g., did rec-
about the manipulations checks. ognize/not recognized; α = .95) and perceived company–nonprofit fit
was measured with five items (e.g., consistent/not consistent, comple-
3.2.1. Stimulus materials mentary/not complementary; α = .94) adopted by the Simonin and
Company information was created to manipulate prior company Ruth (1998) study. Each item was measured on a seven-point semantic
reputation, which is operationalized as previous CSR behavior and com- differential scale.
pany ability (i.e., financial record). The general company information
was identical in length and content except for two sentences describing 4. Results
socially responsible or irresponsible behaviors and financial record. The
positive treatment contained information about the company's high cit- 4.1. Manipulation checks
izenship ranking according to a reputable business magazine and its
strong commitment to community welfare whereas the negative treat- A series of t-tests were performed to confirm the success of manip-
ment contained information about a recent consumer boycott due to ulation. The results show that there were significant effects of company
withdrawing drugs for profit. Brief information about a partnership reputation manipulation, t(335) = − 13.35, p b .001. Participants
was also created and provided. assigned to the positive reputation condition (M = 4.90, SD = .95)
felt significantly more favorably than those in the negative reputation
3.2.2. Pretest condition (M = 3.46, SD = .95). The results also indicated a significant
Prior to conducting the experiment, a pretest was employed (1) to effect of nonprofit familiarity, t(323) = − 16.18, p b .001. Partici-
check the manipulation of company brands with high and low pants who were exposed to the high nonprofit familiarity condition

Please cite this article as: Rim, H., et al., Strategic partnerships with nonprofits in corporate social responsibility (CSR): The mediating role of
perceived altruism and orga..., Journal of Business Research (2016),
H. Rim et al. / Journal of Business Research xxx (2016) xxx–xxx 5

(M = 5.65, SD = 1.53) were more likely to feel familiar toward a non- Table 2
profit than those who were exposed to the low familiarity condition Univariate analysis of variance for simple main effects (n = 337).

(M = 2.68, SD = 1.83). Lastly, a t-test indicated a significant effect of Company reputation

company–nonprofit fit, t(323) = − 16.18, p b .001. Participants who Positive Negative
were exposed to the high fit condition (M = 5.03, SD = 1.14) were
Dependent variables M SD M SD F df η2p
more likely to evaluate congruency between company and nonprofit
cause than those who were exposed to a low fit condition (M = 4.24, Supportive CSR outcomes 4.97 1.07 4.36 1.07 29.94⁎⁎⁎ 1 .08
Perceived altruism 5.05 1.01 4.35 1.02 39.96⁎⁎⁎ 1 .11
SD = 1.29).
CCI intentions 3.60 1.18 3.31 1.20 5.07⁎ 1 .02

4.2. Hypotheses testing Nonprofit familiarity (FAM)

High FAM Low FAM

Prior to testing the mediated model, which is the primary focus of
M SD M SD F df η2p
the study, the main effects of partnership conditions (i.e., company rep-
utation, nonprofit familiarity, company–nonprofit fit) on each depen- Supportive CSR outcomes 4.95 1.03 4.38 1.12 26.13⁎⁎⁎ 1 .07
dent variable were tested. The results of a multivariate analysis of Perceived altruism 4.85 1.05 4.55 1.07 7.68⁎⁎ 1 .02
CCI intentions 3.65 1.20 3.25 1.17 10.09⁎⁎ 1 .03
variance (MANOVA) showed significant main effects of prior corporate
reputation, Wilk's λ = .88, F(3, 324) = 14.37, p b .001, familiarity Wilk's Company–nonprofit Fit
λ = .92, F(3, 324) = 9.11, p b .001, and nonprofit-company fit, Wilk's
High fit Low fit
λ = .96, F(3, 324) = 4.69, p b .001.
(Table 1)
Supportive CSR outcomes 4.87 1.07 4.46 1.12 13.32⁎⁎⁎ 1 .04
4.2.1. Conditional effects of partnership Perceived altruism 4.82 1.03 4.59 1.10 3.99⁎ 1 .01
CCI intentions 3.61 1.11 3.30 1.27 5.57⁎ 1 .02
H1a–c predicted a main effect of prior corporate reputation on
supportive CSR outcomes, perceived altruism, and CCI intention. CCI = consumer–company identification.
⁎ p b .05.
The univariate analysis indicated that positive corporate reputation ⁎⁎ p b .01.
(M = 4.97, SD = 1.07) had a greater influence on CSR supportive ⁎⁎⁎ p b .001.
outcome than negative corporate reputation (M = 4.36, SD =
1.07), F(1, 326) = 29.94, p b .001, η2p = .08. Regarding the perceived
altruism, participants who were exposed to a positive reputation high-fit condition were more likely to infer altruistic motives
condition (M = 5.05, SD = 1.01) were more likely to infer altruistic (M = 4.58, SD = 1.1) than those exposed to the low-fit condition
motives of partnership than those who were exposed to a negative (M = 4.81, SD = 1.03), F(1, 326) = 3.99, p b .05, η2p = .01. Lastly, peo-
reputation condition (M = 4.35, SD = 1.02), F(1, 326) = 39.96, ple exposed to the high-fit condition showed a greater CCI intention
p b .001, η 2p = .11. The results also show that positive corporate (M = 3.61, SD = 1.11) than those exposed to the low-fit condition
reputation (M = 3.59, SD = 1.18) had a greater influence on CCI in- (M = 3.3, SD = 1.26), F(1, 326) = 5.57, p b .02, η2p = .02. Therefore,
tention than negative corporate reputation (M = 3.31, SD = 1.20), H3a–c were supported.
F(1, 326) = 5.07, p b .05, η2p = .02. Therefore, H1a–c were supported.
H2a–c posited a positive impact of nonprofit familiarity on support- 4.2.2. Mediating effects of perceived altruism and CCI
ive CSR outcomes, perceived altruism, and CCI intention, respectively. The study also examined the effects of the company–partnership
As expected, partnering with a familiar nonprofit organization led factors on supportive CSR outcomes when mediated by the perceived
greater supportive CSR outcome intention (M = 4.95, SD = 1.03) than altruism and CCI. In the multivariate mediated path model, corporate
partnering with a non-familiar nonprofit organization (M = 4.38, reputation turned out to be strongly associated with supportive CSR
SD = 1.12), F(1, 326) = 26.13, p b .001, η2p = .07. Also, participants outcomes (B = .27, S.E. = .09, β = .12, p b .01) and altruistic motives
who learned about the company's partnership with the familiar non- (B = .70, S.E. = .11, β = .33, p b .001), but corporate reputation did
profit were more likely to infer altruistic motives of partnership not strongly influence CCI intention (B = .06, S.E. = .13, β = .02, ns).
(M = 4.85, SD = 1.05) than those who learned about the partnership In addition, nonprofit's familiarity had significant impacts on all of
with a non-familiar nonprofit (M = 4.55, SD = 1.07), F(1, 326) = three variables the researchers examined, including supportive CSR out-
7.68, p b .01, η2p = .02. In addition, partnering with familiar nonprofit comes (B = .25, S.E. = .08, β = .11, p b .01), altruistic motives (B = .31,
had a greater influence CCI intention (M = 3.65, SD = 1.2) than non- S.E. = .11, β = .14, p b .01), and identification (B = .30, S.E. = .12, β =
familiar nonprofit (M = 3.25, SD = 1.17), F(1, 326) = 10.09, p b .01, .13, p b .01). This study also found that the company–nonprofit fit was
η2p = .03. Therefore, H2a–c were supported (Table 2). one of the relevant independent variables influencing all three depen-
Regarding H3a–c, participants exposed to high-fit condition be- dent variables in this study: supportive CSR outcomes (B = .26,
tween the company and nonprofit's cause showed a greater supportive S.E. = .08, β = .12, p b .01), altruistic motives (B = .22, S.E. = .11,
CSR intention (M = 4.87, SD = 1.07) than those exposed to the low-fit β = .10, p b .05), and CCI intention (B = .23, S.E. = .12, β = .10,
condition (M = 4.46, SD = 1.12), F(1, 326) = 13.32, p b .001, ηp2 = .04. p b .05). Regarding the relationships between perceived altruism and
The results also revealed a significant effect of company–nonprofit fit CCI, respectively, results revealed that perceived altruistic motives was
on the perceived altruism. Experiment participants exposed to the the variable that had the strongest impact on supportive CSR outcomes
(B = .67, S.E. = .05, β = .65, p b .001). Also, CCI intention was positively
Table 1 associated with supportive CSR outcomes (B = .24, S.E. = .04, β = .26,
Multivariate analysis of variance on combined dependent variables. p b .001), suggesting that H5 and H6 were supported (see Table 3).
Independent variables Wilks' lambda df Error df F η2p Lastly, H6 posited that more altruistic motives would result in stronger
CCI intention. This study found that indeed altruistic motives led to a
Company reputation .883 3 324 14.37*** .12
Nonprofit familiarity (FAM) .922 3 324 9.11*** .08 significant increase in the levels of identification between research par-
Company–nonprofit fit (FIT) .958 3 324 4.69** .04 ticipants and the company studied (B = .33, S.E. = .21, β = .30,
⁎ p b .05
p b .001); thus, H6 was supported.
⁎⁎ p b .01. To test the mediation effects of perceived altruistic motives and
⁎⁎⁎ p b .001. identification, the researchers compared two structural models in a

Please cite this article as: Rim, H., et al., Strategic partnerships with nonprofits in corporate social responsibility (CSR): The mediating role of
perceived altruism and orga..., Journal of Business Research (2016),
6 H. Rim et al. / Journal of Business Research xxx (2016) xxx–xxx

Table 3 even when it is partnering with nonprofits. The study extends previous
Standardized coefficient of direct effects in the hypothesized SEM model (n = 337). study that demonstrated the impact of corporate credibility on con-
Independent factor Dependent factor B S.E. β sumers' attitude to brand, attitude to company and purchase intention
Baseline model
(Lafferty, 2007). Instead of the direct effects of company reputation,
Company Reputation → Supportive CSR Outcomes .92 .12 .39⁎⁎⁎ this study took into account the broader consequences of company–
Nonprofit familiarity → Supportive CSR Outcomes .48 .12 .20⁎⁎⁎ nonprofit partnership and examined the role of company reputation
Company–NPO fit → Supportive CSR Outcomes .46 .12 .19⁎⁎⁎ on supportive CSR outcomes. The study also attempted to understand
Mediated model (selected) the consumers' evaluation process by testing the direct and indirect ef-
Company reputation → Supportive CSR outcomes .27 .09 .12⁎⁎ fects of company reputation on perceived altruism and CCI intention.
Company reputation → Perceived altruism .70 .11 .33⁎⁎⁎ Interestingly, our findings suggest that having a favorable company
Company reputation → CCI intentions .06 .13 .02
reputation is not a sufficient condition for CCI. Rather, triggering the
Nonprofit familiarity → Supportive CSR outcomes .25 .08 .11⁎⁎
Nonprofit familiarity → Perceived altruism .31 .11 .14⁎⁎ perception of altruistic motives behind CSR is a critical factor that en-
Nonprofit familiarity → CCI intentions .30 .12 .13⁎ genders the consumers' intention to identify with the company. Even
Company–NPO fit → Supportive CSR outcomes .26 .08 .12⁎⁎ though a company enjoys a good CSR reputation, the company's mo-
Company–NPO fit → Perceived altruism .22 .11 .10⁎ tives for supporting CSR and partnering with a nonprofit should be per-
Company–NPO fit → CCI intentions .23 .12 .10⁎
ceived to be altruistic by the consumer as that stimulates their intention
Perceived altruism → CCI intentions .33 .21 .30⁎⁎⁎
Perceived altruism → Supportive CSR outcomes .67 .05 .65⁎⁎⁎ to identify with the company. Research in brand attachment suggests
CCI intentions → Supportive CSR outcomes .24 .04 .26⁎⁎⁎ that individuals develop attachment to brands that can be counted on
Baseline model: χ2(21, n = 337) = 401.83, p b 0.01, SRMR = .23, RMSEA = .23 (90% to fulfill needs to gratify, enable, and enrich the self (Park et al., 2006).
Confidence Interval: .21, .25), AIC = 447.83, and CFI = .50. By supporting CSR, particularly when it is perceived as altruistic, the
Mediated model: χ2(12, n = 337) = 53.73, p b 0.01, SRMR = .04, RMSEA = .10 (90% public is more likely to identify with a company as a means of self-
Confidence Interval: .08, .13), AIC = 117.73, and CFI = .95. gratification. From a practical point of view, CSR messages should con-
χ2/df test: Δ χ2 = 348.1, Δ df = 9, p b .01.
⁎ p b .05. vey altruistic motives to the consumer. This study further implies the
⁎⁎ p b .01. potential of incorporating a positive corporate image into a company's
⁎⁎⁎ p b .001. communication strategy.
The study revealed the benefit of partnering with familiar nonprofits
and thereby increasing partnership effectiveness when mediated by al-
truism and identification. This study confirms that a nonprofit's famil-
hierarchical/nested relation in terms of the χ2–df test: a model with
iarity can transfer to CSR evaluations, supporting previous studies of
structural paths from those mediators and another model (i.e., the base-
cause–brand alliance and the moderating role of familiarity (Lafferty,
line model) without such paths to see if the mediation model is statisti-
2009; Perera & Chaminda, 2013). We suggest that partnering with a
cally better than the baseline model in the nested relation. The
familiar nonprofit is one of the key strategies in boosting partnership
mediation model turned out to perform substantially better than the
effects that create synergies. Our findings also imply the need for non-
baseline without mediating paths via the mediators (i.e., altruistic
profit organizations to invest in branding to leverage their images and
motives and CCI intention). According to Hu and Bentler's (1999)
to get involved in active brand communications. Increasing awareness
joint-cutoff criteria, the baseline model is not acceptable: χ 2(21,
of nonprofit brand names and their causes can eventually increase
n = 337) = 401.83, p b 0.01, SRMR = .23, RMSEA = .23 (90% Confi-
their competitive advantages as familiar nonprofit brands are often per-
dence Interval: .21, .25), AIC = 447.83, and CFI = .50. Across all data-
ceived to be more important and may find the right company partners
model fit criteria, it is clear that the baseline model without mediat-
more easily (Lafferty & Edmondson, 2014).
ing paths via the mediators is not tenable as a valid model. However,
In terms of company–nonprofit fit, which has been controversial in
when mediating paths were added to the baseline model, its perfor-
CSR studies, we found that when a company partners with a nonprofit
mance was significantly improved so as to be retained as a valid
organization that is similar to the company's expertise and cause do-
model: χ2(12, n = 337) = 53.73, p b 0.01, SRMR = .04, RMSEA =
main, consumers show stronger CSR supportive intentions. Our findings
.10 (90% Confidence Interval: .08, .13), AIC = 117.73, and CFI =
confirm the role of goodness of fit in consumers' evaluations of partner-
.95. Therefore, in terms of the nested/hierarchical model comparison
ship. Past studies have considered fit as a determinant of consumer atti-
procedure, although the baseline model is more parsimonious by 9 df
tude toward a brand extension, suggesting that a good fit generates easy
(Δ df = 9), the mediation model should be selected as a better
transferability of an organization's expertise and image with a simple
model: χ2change (9, n = 337) = 348.1, p b .01.
heuristic cognitive process (e.g. Lafferty et al., 2004, Van Rekom et al.,
2014). The current study empirically demonstrated the positive effects
5. Discussion of fit in partnership evaluation.
Most importantly, to better understand the logic behind company–
5.1. Major findings and implications nonprofit partnership effects, the current study tested and confirmed
the mediation effects of perceived altruistic motives and CCI intentions
The main focus of the study was to provide insights for a company to on supportive CSR outcomes. In addition, we found that perceived altru-
determine ideal nonprofit partners by demonstrating the indirect and ism for CSR partnership led to a significant increase in the level of identi-
direct effects of partnership on supportive CSR outcomes through con- fication between the consumer and a company. Our findings support past
sumers' attribution of CSR and CCI intentions. First, this study showed studies that suggested that the success of CSR varies depending on per-
that a company's prior reputation significantly influences supportive ceived motivation (e.g. Bae & Cameron, 2006, Vlachos et al., 2009) and
CSR outcomes and perceived altruism whereas it has no impact on the put emphasis on delivering sincerity in messages. As more and more
public's identification with the company. The findings complement a companies adopt and promote their CSR activities, the public does not
growing body of literature on the benefits of strong company reputa- simply take CSR at face value because it recognizes the use of CSR as a
tion. Consistent with previous studies (e.g. Bae & Cameron, 2006, marketing strategy. Given the public's need to engage in prosocial behav-
Lafferty, 2007, Vlachos et al., 2009) consumers tend to perceive sincere iors to express self-value and to gratify the self (Park et al., 2006), sincere
motives behind CSR initiatives and engage in supportive behaviors and altruistic motives for CSR should be emphasized in the partnership
when a company has a good reputation. However, it is challenging for message, not only to increase the public's supportive behaviors, but also
a company with a negative reputation to communicate its good deeds, to enhance consumer–company identification intention.

Please cite this article as: Rim, H., et al., Strategic partnerships with nonprofits in corporate social responsibility (CSR): The mediating role of
perceived altruism and orga..., Journal of Business Research (2016),
H. Rim et al. / Journal of Business Research xxx (2016) xxx–xxx 7

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Please cite this article as: Rim, H., et al., Strategic partnerships with nonprofits in corporate social responsibility (CSR): The mediating role of
perceived altruism and orga..., Journal of Business Research (2016),