“How does the degree of sustainability improvements affect consumers’ perception of the company’s trustworthiness, and does it depend on the company’s reputation for sustainability?” : a moderated mediation of the degree of perceived sustainability improments, percieved innovativeness and perceived trustworthiness.
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- Master Thesis 
In this research, we investigate how the degree of sustainability improvements implemented by companies, affect whether they are perceived as trustworthy by consumers, and if this effect depends on the company’s reputation for sustainability. We believe that when implementing radical sustainability improvements, the company will be perceived as trustworthy because they are perceived as innovative. On the other hand, we believe that implementing an incremental improvement might be perceived as greenwashing, especially when the company has a bad reputation for sustainability. To test this, we developed a research model with the degree of sustainability improvements as the independent variable, perceived trustworthiness as the dependent variable, perceived innovativeness and perceived greenwashing as mediating variables, and perceived reputation for sustainability as the moderating variable. Our population of interest was Norwegian consumers, and we collected a data sample consisting of N=254 respondents through our social media platforms. The results of the research support the effect of the degree of sustainability improvements on perceived trustworthiness, indicating that radical sustainability improvements (vs incremental sustainability improvements) increases perceived trustworthiness. Further we find that perceived innovativeness fully mediates this relationship. We do not find support that reputation for sustainability moderates the effect between the degree of sustainability improvements and perceived trustworthiness, but we do however find that reputation for sustainability individually is an important predictor of perceived trustworthiness. Further we do not find support for our hypotheses related to greenwashing, however we acknowledge that the operationalization of this variable might not have been optimal, and we suggest that this relationship should be further researched in order to clarify the effect of greenwashing in the context of our research. Keywords: reputation for sustainability, sustainability, sustainability improvement, innovativeness, greenwashing, trustworthiness, CSR