Courtesy or integrity: what constitutes a stakeholder-caring image?

Asian Journal of Business Ethics 12 (2):257-284 (2023)
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Abstract

It is not uncommon for business institutions to position themselves as stakeholder-caring companies or organizations. However, there is little research on conceptualizing stakeholder-caring as a component of brand image. Through a theoretical lens of brand-consumer interactions, this paper introduces a new construct—stakeholder-caring image—and proposes a model that examines stakeholder-caring’s antecedents (integrity and courtesy) and its consequence (customer satisfaction). The two antecedents—integrity and courtesy—capture intrinsic and extrinsic aspects of brand-consumer interaction practice, respectively, while the consequence (customer satisfaction) is one important behavioral outcome in marketing. The proposed model was tested with Hong Kong customers (n = 296) via a systematic survey. The data were analyzed using LISREL. Several measurement and structural models were constructed to test the proposed hypotheses. The findings reveal that the effect of integrity on customer satisfaction is mediated by a stakeholder-caring image. However, contrary to the conventional wisdom, we surprisingly find that courtesy is not effective to build a stakeholder-caring image. Managerially, this research offers guidance on how to develop stakeholder-caring image and subsequently increase customer satisfaction. In addition, we discuss the nuanced distinction between a stakeholder-caring image and related brand constructs, such as “sincerity” in Aaker’s (1997) brand personality framework.

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