Title page for ETD etd-0401102-165849

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Ricks, Jr., Joe M.
URN etd-0401102-165849
Title The Effects of Strategic Corporate Philanthropy on Consumer Perceptions: An Experimental Assessment
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
Department Marketing (Business Administration)
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Alvin C. Burns Committee Chair
Daryl McKee Committee Member
Jerel Slaughter Committee Member
Joseph H. Hair, Jr. Committee Member
Kathleen Bratton Dean's Representative
  • brand evaluations
  • corporate image
  • philanthropy
Date of Defense 2002-03-12
Availability unrestricted
There are many objectives for corporate philanthropic activity beyond altruism. Financial gain, increased image, and thwarting negative publicity have been suggested as potential objectives for corporate giving. This dissertation develops a 2X2 classification schema as a framework for empirical investigation and managerial decision making. Additionally this dissertation examines current models of corporate philanthropy and develops a new model for the use of philanthropy in crisis management using stakeholder theory. Finally it presents experimental assessments of various types of philanthropy based on the classification schema.

Philanthropic activity is assessed in the context of two controlled experiments. The first experiment examines the perceptions of African-Americans versus other ethnic groups based on philanthropic activity directed toward African-Americans versus the general population. These perceptions are also examined in the context of a crisis (after a firm has been found to be discriminatory toward African-Americans) versus a good will gesture. A second experiment will conduct a closer examination of philanthropic activity in the crisis context by replicating the crisis conditions in the first experiment with modified experimental manipulations based on the results of the first study.

Results indicate philanthropy is an effective strategic option for corporate or brand image objectives, but ineffective for brand evaluation and purchase objectives. In addition philanthropy directed toward a particular segment also has a positive effect on consumers outside of that segment. Finally, philanthropy as a part of a recovery strategy appears to have a consistent but marginal effect on consumer perceptions of brand equity variables.

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