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Anglia Ruskin University ARU Featured PhD Programmes
Anglia Ruskin University ARU Featured PhD Programmes

Brand activism and giving behaviours (PhD in Business Studies - Marketing)

Cardiff Business School

About the Project

How do supporters react when nonprofit brands take a stand on controversial social-political issues? The study aims to examine the influence of brand activism (Moorman, 2020; Sarkar & Kotler, 2018) within the nonprofit context; and especially in understanding how, why and when this strategy is effective in influencing donors’ behaviours. Brand activism is an emerging marketing tactic for brands to stand out in a fragmented marketplace by taking public stances on social and political issues (Bhagwat et al., 2020; Korschun et al., 2020; Mukherjee & Althuizen, 2020). Yet, taking a public stance of this nature has never been more divisive or risky. In November 2020, Barnardo’s, a leading UK children charity pronounced on the matter of ‘white privilege’ and unveiled its new guide for parents on this issue. There is a huge backlash from supporters claiming to stop donation immediately (Ricketts, 2020). Simultaneously, such action is welcomed and publicly supported by CEOs from other charities. In addition, when Colin Kaepernick first knelt during the US national anthem in 2016, professional football turned its back on him. However, today consumers are forcing brands to see activism as good for business. According to the Edelman Trust Barometer, the percentage of people expecting CEOs to take a lead on political change rather than waiting for governments to impose it has increased from 64% to 76% within the past year (Eldelman, 2019). Hence, we require additional insights into the backstage processes through which activism can shape donors’ behaviours.

Desired characteristics:

  • Open to mixed-method research
  • Interest in giving behaviours and nonprofit management
  • knowledge of SPSS

Funding Notes

This project is not funded, applications from self-funded home and international students are welcome. Outstanding applicants from ANY country may be considered for one of the available University scholarships. The start date is 1st October 2021.
Applications are open until 31st May 2021, however if sufficient applications are received we reserve the right to close the application early.
For more information about scholarships, entry requirements and application process please visit our website:
View Website


When applying, please specify the project title and supervisor of this project and whether you are self-funded or are applying for funding (within or external to the University).
The application must contain the following documents:
1. Covering letter: The covering letter must name the project being applied for and should be addressed to the supervisor. It must set out your reasons and motivation for applying to study at Cardiff University; your understanding, and expectations of doctoral study; and your academic interests generally, and particularly how these relate to the description of the project supplied. The covering letter should be no more than two pages.
2. Academic / Professional Qualifications: Where appropriate, this should also include proof of English Language Competency (7.0 IELTS minimum).
3. References: All applications require two academic references to be submitted in support. Candidates must approach referees themselves and include the references with their application.
4. Curriculum Vitae: This should be no longer than two pages.
5. Research Proposal: The proposal should build directly on the project description that has been supplied. The proposal should be up to a maximum of 1000 words, not including bibliographic references. We suggest that you use the following five headings in your research proposal:
• Your reflections on the title, aims and purpose of the research;
• An overview of some key research literature relevant to the study;
• Your proposals for developing the design and methods of the study;
• A description of potential outcomes of the project for understanding, knowledge, policy and practice (as appropriate to the topic);
• Bibliographic references
This program is available in English only. To request information in Welsh, please contact the Postgraduate Recruitment Team (

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