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Banking on bullshit: indifferences towards truth in corporate social responsibility

David M. Herold (Vienna University of Economics and Business, Vienna, Austria)
Timo Dietrich (Griffith Business School, Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia)
Tim Breitbarth (Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, Australia)

International Journal of Bank Marketing

ISSN: 0265-2323

Article publication date: 2 November 2020

Issue publication date: 5 July 2021




This study aims to identify and deconstruct bullshit in banks' corporate social responsibility (CSR) communication to advance the management rhetoric research space, which has been characterised by an indifference to truth and meaning.


We provide a typology of bullshit phenomena overview in the banking sector and follow the McCarthy et al.'s (2020) C.R.A.P. framework from to showcase how bullshit can be comprehended, recognised, acted against and prevented.


This paper puts a spotlight on written and spoken language to detect bullshit in banks' CSR statements. It provides actionable insights into how stakeholders can act against and prevent bullshit statements from occurring in the future.

Research limitations/implications

Future research is warranted to assess the use of still imagery, events and video materials in corporate communications and non-financial reporting. Further rigorous assessment of actual CSR initiatives must be undertaken to assess claimed contributions.

Practical implications

Monitoring mechanisms and independent assurance statements prepared by authorised third parties may strengthen the motivation and ethicality of CSR activities.


This viewpoint is the first to follow the C.R.A.P framework and critically assess indifferences towards truth in banks' CSR communications.



Herold, D.M., Dietrich, T. and Breitbarth, T. (2021), "Banking on bullshit: indifferences towards truth in corporate social responsibility", International Journal of Bank Marketing, Vol. 39 No. 4, pp. 618-637.



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