Do Online Consumers Value Corporate Social Responsibility More in Times of Uncertainty? Evidence from Online Auctions Conducted during the Onset of the Covid-19 Pandemic


Andrew S. Manikas
James R. Kroes
E. Shaunn Mattingly
Garrett A. McBrayer


The relationships between Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and consumer behaviors have been widely explored in the literature. From the consumer standpoint, it has been shown that individuals largely want to be socially responsible actors and that, more than ever, they consider the CSR aspects of products or services when contemplating purchasing decisions. We utilize data from 23,247 online auctions conducted before and during the COVID-19 pandemic to analyze in what way consumer preferences might be influenced by how the CSR characteristics of products are touted in their descriptions. We find that a greater CSR emphasis is positively associated with an increased prospect of an online auction item selling. Additionally, we find CSR is valued more by consumers during a period of economic hardship and social uncertainty (COVID-19). Finally, we find that profit-seeking behaviors by intermediary auction house brokers undermine the effect of CSR on consumer purchasing behavior.

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November, 2023

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