This paper investigates under what conditions a good corporate social responsibility (CSR) can compensate for a relatively poor corporate ability (CA) (quality), and vice versa. The authors conducted an experiment among business administration students, in which information about a financial services company’s CA and CSR was provided. Participants indicated their preferences for the company’s products, stocks, and jobs. The results show that for stock and job preferences, a poor CA can be compensated by a good CSR. For product preferences, a poor CA could not be compensated by a good CSR, at least when people thought that CA is personally relevant to them. Furthermore, a poor CSR could be compensated by a good CA for product, stocks, and job preferences.

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Keywords applicant attitudes, consumer attitudes, corporate ability, corporate social responsibility, investor attitudes, personal relevance , trade-offs
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Series ERIM Top-Core Articles
Journal Journal of Business Ethics
Berens, G.A.J.M, van Riel, C.B.M, & van Rekom, J. (2007). The CSR-Quality Trade-Off: When can Corporate Social Responsibility and Corporate Ability Compensate Each Other?. Journal of Business Ethics, 74(3), 233–252. doi:10.1007/s10551-006-9232-0