Corporate social responsibility (CSR) has become a major part of the foodservice industry due to external forces which encourage enterprises’ responsiveness. In reality, consumers’ social concern influences their attitudes towards foodservice firms’ socially responsible practices and purchase decisions, thereby influencing senior management to react. Considering this issue, this study examines the impact of senior management’s ethical leadership in evaluating operational, commercial, and economic performances along with the mediating role of CSR in the foodservice industry. A conceptual model was formulated and empirically tested based on responses from 196 foodservice franchise firms in South Korea. The results indicated ethical leadership significantly influenced CSR and operational performance, while CSR also had a positive effect on operational and commercial performances. Additionally, operational performance had a significantly positive influence on commercial performance, which subsequently enhanced economic performance. Overall, the findings highlight the role that ethical leadership exhibited by senior management of foodservice franchises influenced initiation of CSR activities, which provide implications for research and industry practice and is outlined.
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