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CSR communication in stakeholder networks: a semiotic perspective

Stefan Lång (School of Business and Economics, Åbo Akademi University, Turku, Finland)
Maria Ivanova-Gongne (School of Business and Economics, Åbo Akademi University, Turku, Finland)

Baltic Journal of Management

ISSN: 1746-5265

Article publication date: 14 May 2019

Issue publication date: 18 June 2019

Abstract

Purpose

This paper is explorative in its nature and aims to create a deeper understanding of corporate social responsibility (CSR) communication within stakeholder networks. In particular, the purpose of this paper is to focus on how CSR communication is organised and communicated within stakeholder networks from a semiotic perspective. More specifically, the paper looks at the CSR communication of Nordic-based multinational companies.

Design/methodology/approach

The research design of this study is twofold. First, eight in-depth interviews were conducted with senior managers in five Nordic-based global industrial companies in order to understand how their CSR communication is organised. Second, CSR messages from the interviewed companies’ websites and annual sustainability reports were semiotically analysed in order to understand the codes used in the CSR message in the communication to the stakeholder network.

Findings

The result of the research consists of a communication platform for CSR communication in stakeholder networks and a list of specific semiotic codes applied to CSR messages targeting various actors in a company’s stakeholder network. The developed CSR communication platform together with the specific CSR codes have practical value for managers aiming to develop the company’s CSR communication in a stakeholder network context.

Originality/value

The study contributes to the scarce literature on CSR communication in business management. It particularly highlights the need to consider a more in-depth, semiotic approach, when developing and studying CSR communication in a stakeholder network context.

Keywords

Citation

Lång, S. and Ivanova-Gongne, M. (2019), "CSR communication in stakeholder networks: a semiotic perspective", Baltic Journal of Management, Vol. 14 No. 3, pp. 480-499. https://doi.org/10.1108/BJM-08-2017-0262

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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