Public preferences for corporate social responsibility activities in the pharmaceutical industry: Empirical evidence from Korea

Hankil Lee, Sang Yong Kim, Goun Kim, Hye Young Kang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Although corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities are common in the pharmaceutical industry, there is little empirical evidence on consumer responses to CSR practices. We investigated public awareness, preferences, and expectations regarding social contribution of the pharmaceutical industry’s CSR activities, and identified the factors associated with such activities. We conducted an online survey with 1,298 respondents comprising two groups: healthy individuals (546) and patients (752). Most respondents (78%) expressed interest in CSR activities undertaken by pharmaceutical companies. However, they reported a lack of awareness and experience thereof; only 26.9% were aware of and 7.9% had experience with such activities. Among our six CSR activity categories, both survey groups showed the highest preference for the “promoting public health” (healthy group: 6.34/10; patient group: 6.37/10) and “emergency disaster relief support” (6.31 and 6.35) categories. Among sub-categories, activities related to “development of innovative drugs in untreated areas” (6.63 and 6.82) and “support for research on new drug development” (6.59 and 6.84) received the highest scores. The mean expectation score of social contribution of all CSR activities was slightly higher than the mean preference score (6.37 and 6.06, respectively). The patient group exhibited a larger difference between the highest and lowest expectation scores than the healthy group (1.11 and 0.64, respectively). The results of the regression analysis revealed that being a patient, being male, and having positive attitudes toward CSR and its expected effects significantly and positively affected public preferences regarding CSR activities. We can conclude that CSR activities with high public preference might be an effective strategy to improve public awareness of the pharmaceutical industry’s CSR activities. Furthermore, the highest preference for CSR activities relates to new drug development, indicating that our society believes the pharmaceutical industry’s key CSR activity should be to pursue its intrinsic mission: to fulfill unmet medical needs by developing new drugs.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0221321
JournalPloS one
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Aug 1

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Financial support for this study was provided in part by a grant from Korea Research-based Pharmaceutical Industry Association (grant number 2016-11-1480) to the principal investigator. The funding source had no involvement in the study design, the collection, analysis and interpretation of data, in the writing of the report, and in the decision to submit the article for publication. There was no additional external funding received for this study. We wish to thank the two reviewers for their generous and in-depth advice on this study.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Lee et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


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