Data for this research were gathered with the help of a questionnaire. A questionnaire is a survey tool that comprises questions and prompts used to get information from relevant participants (Gray 2013). Johnson and Christensen (2010) explain that this tool should have a well-defined purpose that is closely associated with the study objectives. When designing a questionnaire, it is imperative to include precise instructions and provide spaces for respondents to put down their answers. It is also imperative to inform participants of the objective of the research, as well as when and how they will get the feedback concerning the findings (Gray 2013). The manner, in which the questions are designed, depends on the nature of the research. In this respect, structured questionnaires are suitable for quantitative studies whereas open questionnaires are appropriate to qualitative ones (Johnson & Christensen 2010).

In this research, an open questionnaire was utilized. Questionnaires are employed in a number of situations that involve gathering factual information that is aimed at classifying individuals and associated circumstances and collecting straightforward data about the behavior of people, as well as exploring the basic opinions and attitudes of the population concerning specific issue. Nevertheless, Jackson (2011) cautions against using the tool for a detailed analysis of complex, as well as new and complicated issues. In this research study, a questionnaire was sent to one of the employees of a controversial company in order to understand whether the business engages in CSR, why it does so, what CSR activities it chooses, and what influence these CSR initiatives have on consumers.

Several reasons underpin the use of the questionnaire as a universal tool for collecting data.

The first rationale for using this method stems from its economical nature. The questionnaire has been described as an extremely economical way for gathering information (Jackson 2011). Moreover, the questionnaire is efficient for both the respondent and the researcher in terms of the money, effort, and time. The cost associated with conducting surveys using questionnaires is extremely low as compared to other tools such as interviews. When using a questionnaire, the only cost incurred by the researcher is printing the questionnaire and postage services (Gray 2013). These costs can be further reduced if the questionnaire is sent via an online platform that eliminates the need to have a hard copy. Moreover, using the questionnaire requires no transportation costs since there is no need to meet with each respondent physically. Instead, the questionnaire can be sent to respondents to be completed and returned at all reasonable time (Gray 2013).

The second reason for using the questionnaire as a data collection tool in this research stems from its speed. In this way, questionnaires enable the researcher to receive responses quickly since the need to meet respondents physically is avoided. Among other survey instruments, the questionnaire remains the quickest method of the data collection (Jackson 2011). The wide coverage offered by the questionnaire is another advantage of the tool. When participants are residing in a waste territory that cannot be easily reached, the questionnaire is the most effective method for collecting information unlike other survey instruments, including observations or interviews (Johnson & Christensen 2010). Gray (2013) indicates that questionnaires allow the researcher to contact respondents who otherwise, cannot be reached. The whole process is further improved by the advent of modern communication technologies such as social media, which expands the researchers’ possibilities.

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Another advantage associated with the questionnaire stems from its anonymity, which increases the respondents’ confidence in that nobody will identify them for providing any opinion or view (Gray 2013). Consequently, respondents feel free and more comfortable when sharing their views via self-administered questionnaires. Another advantage connected with the questionnaire is the greater validity of results. The questionnaire has some distinctive features that contribute to the accuracy of data. In survey tools such as observation and interviews, the reliability of the information collected depends significantly on the manner, in which it was recorded by the investigator (Gray 2013). Herein, the chances of researcher’s biases are present. However, when using questionnaires, respondents present their views in their own version and language; his fact minimizes the chances of the researcher interpreting them wrongly.

Questionnaires also have a myriad of other advantages. For instance, they place a lower pressure on participants in terms of the immediacy of providing responses. A participant can answer the questionnaire at a time of the own convenience (Johnson & Christensen 2010). It is not the case with observations and interviews that are limited to fixed settings and time. Another advantage associated with using questionnaires is their uniformity. In this respect, the tool has been reported effective in attracting the attention of the respondent to significant issues (Gray 2013). The standardized nature of the questionnaire guarantees some level of uniformity and reduces variation. In addition, a questionnaire is an easier method of the data collection in terms of planning, constructing, and administering (Gray 2013). Also, it does not need any considerable technical knowledge and skills.

There are various ways, via which a questionnaire can be delivered to respondents including via the post, electronic mail, face-to-face meeting, and online surveys among others. In this research, the questionnaire was sent online via Facebook to an employee that worked at one of the controversial companies. The reasons for using online questionnaires included its relatively low costs, convenience for participants, no need for a direct contact with respondents, design flexibility, and the ease, with which the required data are collected (Gray 2013).

The questions provided in the questionnaire were open-ended as opposed to close-ended ones. This type of questions does not limit the respondent by a set of pre-determined answers; instead, one has an unlimited number of similar responses. Open-ended questions also permit respondents to share detailed thoughts (Jackson 2011). It can help in the discovery of unanticipated findings. Moreover, open-ended questions are suitable for analyzing complex issues. Gray (2013) asserts that open-ended questions reflect the frame of reference, thinking process, and logic of the respondents. In this research, questions covered a number of issues including whether the company does CSR, the reasons for its engagement in CSR, the chosen CSR activities, and the effects of CSR on the company. The aim of the questionnaire was to understand whether controversial companies engage in CSR, why they do it, what activities they choose, and the influence of CSR on its consumers.

Results of the Questionnaire

The findings of the questionnaire show that Philip Morris International, a controversial company, at which the respondent works, actively engages in CSR. This view is explained by Lindorff, Jonsonm and McGuire (2012), who point out that controversial businesses are under immense political pressure to be socially responsible in order to reduce the harms to the society that are associated with their operations.

The respondent also outlined a number of reasons as to why the company engaged in CSR. The first reason for the decision was to enhance the company’s image in its consumers’ eyes and show them that the company is socially responsible despite operating an industry that is deemed controversial. The second reason named by the respondent for engaging in CSR is that being socially responsible is a business requirement for any company as it plays an important role in ensuring the success of a business. The respondent acknowledged that the significance of CSR was increasing and that consumers were paying more attention to it. This assumption is supported by the fact that consumers prefer to buy from companies, which they consider socially responsible. To this end, CSR is considered an integral component of the company’s strategy and operations.

The respondent was also asked to specify various CSR activities, in which the company engages. He mentioned that the company supports and works in partnership with non-profit organizations with the view to helping communities solve problems that it faces. The major CSR areas mentioned by the participant include disaster relief, domestic violence, rural living conditions, education, poverty, and hunger. According to the analysis of these CSR activities, it is evident that Philip Morris engages in CSR that is unrelated to its market practices. One would expect a tobacco company to be interested in initiatives associated with the participation in tobacco-related health and anti-smoking campaigns. However, it is not the case of the company. The respondent mentioned that, so far, Philip Morris donated, at least, $40 million to more than 250 organizations operating in over 60 states all over the world in support of programs that strived to make a difference in local communities. The respondent further listed some initiatives in various countries, in which the company engages in CSR. For instance, in Tanzania and Mexico, Philip Morris donates to organizations that offer education to children by building schools. In Mexico, the company partnered with Fundacion Merced in order to educate people regarding the increase in nutrition and safe food for the consumption and commercial purpose. In the Dominican Republic, the company supports a project that offers equipment and financial support to women in order to encourage them to found their own businesses. In Japan, the business maintains several non-profit organizations engaged in diverse activities such as financial support and awareness campaigns. In the Philippines, the company offered immediate help to the flood victims including their families during the heavy monsoon rains experienced in Manila the last year.

Finally, the respondent was asked to evaluate whether CSR was helping the company in any way. Although the respondent acknowledged that measuring the effect of CSR was not easy, he stated that the company was yet to report any negative impact associated with engaging in CSR, but the positive influence had been already reported. For instance, he mentioned that the brand awareness had significantly increased because of CSR.

In this respect, CSR provides the company with a chance to reach people who had not heard of Philip Morris before. CSR has also helped the company in terms of brand switching in the sense that the company reported a slight increase in its sales in the countries, in which the company engages in CSR by supporting local organizations. The respondent attributed the increase in sales to the fact that people become aware of its brand and activities; thus, they switched brands and suggested using its products as a means of appreciating the company’s effort in making positive changes in the society. The respondent even went ahead to provide an example of how being a socially responsible, a company can affect the consumer behavior. He stated that his friends started using products after he had explained to them that the company engaged in various forms of CSR. The respondent mentioned that consumers felt better and more socially responsible when purchasing goods offered by brands that engage in CSR.

In addition, the respondent mentioned that there were people who did not smoke but still were aware of the brand and its CSR initiatives. Thus, he believed that engaging in CSR had significantly contributed to the company’s image in both its consumers and non-consumers. In conclusion, the respondent maintained that the company had been benefiting from CSR that helped in enhancing its image in the eyes of consumers. The respondent suggested increasing the number and types of CSR activities in the future. With people becoming more socially responsible, it is beneficial for companies to engage in CSR.

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