How does corporate social responsibility engagement influence word of mouth on Twitter? Evidence from the airline industry

Tam Thien Vo, Xinning Xiao, Shuk Ying Ho

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Our study examines how a company’s engagement in corporate social responsibility (CSR) influences word of mouth (WOM) about the company on Twitter, particularly during a service delay. We use the airline industry as the study context. On the popular social medium Twitter, people post tweets about airline services and raise concerns about service delays when flights are delayed, canceled, or diverted. Drawing on the literature on legitimacy and the halo effect, we argue that a company’s CSR engagement enhances its corporate image, which in turn, influences WOM about the company on Twitter. We predict and find that airlines with better CSR engagement receive more positive word of mouth (PWOM) and less negative word of mouth (NWOM) on Twitter. We also find that service delays reduce PWOM and increase NWOM, with the additional finding that the positive relationship between service delays and NWOM is less strong for airlines with better CSR engagement. We conduct additional analyses to investigate the effects of environmental, social, and governance CSR on PWOM and NWOM. Our study has practical implications in informing companies about the benefits of CSR engagement in relation to public opinion during service delays.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)525-542
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Business Ethics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019


  • Company ethics
  • CSR
  • Halo effect
  • Legitimacy
  • Social media
  • Word of mouth

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