Degree Type

Dissertation

Date of Award

2014

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Apparel, Events and Hospitality Management

First Advisor

Linda Niehm

Abstract

This study provides understanding of factors that affect U.S. consumers' intentions to patronize apparel retail brands that are engaged in corporate social responsibility (CSR). The present study developed a research model based on a dual theoretical framework - theory of reasoned action (TRA) and expectations confirmation theory (ECT). Causal relationships between personal values (universalism and benevolence), moral norms, knowledge of environmental and social issues within the apparel industry, expectations, attitudes and intentions to patronize apparel retail brands engaged in CSR were examined. Data were collected via a web-based survey from a national sample of U.S. consumers who were recruited using the services of a market research company specializing in consumer panel studies - Survey Sampling International (SSI, n.d.). A total of 405 completed surveys were used for the statistical analysis.

Preliminary analysis of research data consisted of descriptive analysis, principal components analysis, internal reliability assessment of research variables, and correlation analysis. Confirmatory factor analysis for each construct and measurement model testing was performed. Latent variable structural model testing was conducted for three models - fully recursive, hypothesized model and alternate model using Mplus statistical software (Muthén & Muthén, 2000).

Findings of the present study revealed that consumers' knowledge of environmental issues in the apparel industry, moral norms, expectations of ethical behavior, attitudes towards patronizing apparel retail brands engaged in CSR were all important predictors of U.S. consumers' intentions to patronize socially responsible apparel retail brands. Overall, the results of this study confirm applicability of the TRA and ECT in the context of consumers' ethical decision making. Universalism values were found to be predictors of moral norms. Knowledge of environmental issues in the apparel industry and universalism values were found to influence consumers' expectations of retail brands ethical behavior. The findings also revealed that only consumers' moral norms predicted their attitudes towards patronizing apparel retail brands engaged in CSR. However, there was no significant relationship between knowledge of social and environmental issues and expectations of ethical behavior. Also, there were no significant differences in consumers' patronage intentions based on gender, education or household income.

An important theoretical contribution of this study is that it supports previous research that indicated extending the TRA and theory of planned behavior to include measures of values and moral norms in ethical context (Conner & Armitage, 1998; Manstead, 2000; Armitage & Conner, 2001). Findings from this study provide an understanding of the significant roles of universalism values and moral norms in consumers' attitude formation, expectations and patronage intentions for apparel products. The results of this study present valuable insights for apparel retail brands engaged in CSR or planning to incorporate CSR policies in their corporate agenda. It is proposed that apparel retail brands should integrate CSR related information in their strategic marketing activities to increase consumer awareness of its socially responsible business practices, which in turn may enhance brand image.

Copyright Owner

Sonali Diddi

Language

en

File Format

application/pdf

File Size

155 pages

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