Date of Award


Degree Name

Business Administration


Elizabeth McDowell Lewis College of Business

Type of Degree


Document Type


First Advisor

Dr. Kevin Knotts, Committee Chairperson

Second Advisor

Dr. Elizabeth Alexander

Third Advisor

Dr. Whitney Peake

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Doohee Lee


It is common practice for small businesses to support their local communities through social responsibility and citizenship behaviors. Small business response to local crisis events and participation in relief efforts can serve as an indicator of the company’s awareness of community events and signal to customers their embeddedness in and commitment to the local community. Using primary data and an experimental methodology, this dissertation examines customer perceptions of small business’ response to community crisis. Specifically, this study examines customer perceptions of trust and loyalty, and customers’ purchase intent for small businesses that participate in socially responsive behaviors in the face of community crisis. Results from the research study find firm response to local community crisis does not influence customer perceptions of the firm. However, results found positive customer perceptions of firm action positively relates to firm trust, trust in the firm positively relates to purchase intent, and purchase intent is positively related to customer loyalty. While perceived self-interest motives moderate the relationship between trust and purchase intent, it was found that perceived self-interest motives do not moderate the relationship between purchase intent and loyalty. Further, this study found firm response to local community crisis does not influence customer perceptions of the firm. Theoretical and managerial implications are provided.





Social responsibility of business.


Social action.

Small business.