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Sustainability / Publiction Abstract

Cause Beneficial or Cause Exploitative? Using Joint Motives to Increase Credibility of Sustainability Efforts

Oct 31, 2022

Karen Anne Wallach, Deidre Popovich



Consumer perceptions of brand motives related to corporate environmental responsibility affect the decisions of both corporations and consumers. Yet prior literature has typically viewed these firm motives as dichotomous, either solely intrinsic or solely extrinsic. The authors argue for a novel approach to positioning sustainability motives, where the brand communicates both intrinsic and extrinsic benefits together, as a joint motive. With a joint motive, a brand can highlight how an effort can benefit both planet and business with a “doing well by doing good” approach. Across five experiments, including a field study on Facebook, this research investigates the positive impact of the joint motive and its ability to enhance the credibility of sustainable initiatives via heightened perceptions of trustworthiness and expertise. Results provide converging evidence for the benefits of presenting a joint motive for sustainability efforts with implications for policy and practice.

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