Aleix Calveras, Juan-José Ganuza
Many of the attributes that make a good “socially responsible” (SR) are credence attributes that cannot be learned by consumers either through search or experience. Consumers, then, use for their purchasing decisions “noisy” information about these attributes obtained from potentially contradictory channels (media, advertisement, NGOs). In this paper we model such informational framework and show the positive relationship between the accuracy of the information transmitted to consumers and corporate social responsibility. We also show that a firm may be tempted to add noise to the information channel (through lobbying of the media), which might reduce the supply of the SR attributes and even harm the firm itself (with lower profits). It might then be profitable to the firm to commit ex ante to not manipulate the information regarding the firm’s business practices (e.g., with a partnership with an NGO). Finally, we extend our model to a competition framework endogenizing the number of firms active in the SR segment. We show both that in more transparent markets a larger number of firms will be SR, and that in a market with more intense competition, a higher degree of transparency is required in order to sustain a given number of SR firms.