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Corporate social responsibility in emerging social issues: (non)institutionalized practices in response to the global refugee crisis

Rong Wang (Department of Communication, College of Communication and Information, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky, USA)
Katherine R. Cooper (College of Communication, Communication Studies, DePaul University, Chicago, Illinois, USA)

Journal of Communication Management

ISSN: 1363-254X

Article publication date: 1 September 2021

Issue publication date: 23 February 2022

211

Abstract

Purpose

CSR reporting is an institutionalized practice. However, institutionalization has been primarily examined in the context of limited social issues and largely restricted to the presence of CSR communication. The purpose of this paper is to introduce a framework to explore how institutional and organizational factors shape CSR programming in response to an emerging social issue: the global refugee crisis.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors collected corporate social responsibility (CSR) reports from Global 500 Fortune corporations between 2012 and 2017. This study uses content coding and inferential analysis to examine how industry type, headquarters location, and partnership resources are related to programming in the refugee relief efforts.

Findings

The results reveal distinctive patterns from the technology sector and European corporations, with no clear patterns identified among other corporations. The findings indicate that although CSR is an institutionalized practice, CSR program reporting offers fewer insights as to how institutionalization occurs.

Research limitations/implications

Results suggest a preliminary framework for understanding how CSR programming becomes institutionalized and provide implications for how corporations may address emerging social issues.

Originality/value

This study applies an institutional, communicative approach to the context of the recent global refugee crisis, which contributes to theory development through the examination of an emerging social issue. It also extends prior research on the institutionalization of CSR by focusing on programming in response to an emerging social issue over time and suggests the limits of prior claims of institutionalized practices.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank Dr. Michelle Shumate for her comments on earlier drafts of this manuscript. This project was supported by the Office of Undergraduate Research, Northwestern University.

Citation

Wang, R. and Cooper, K.R. (2022), "Corporate social responsibility in emerging social issues: (non)institutionalized practices in response to the global refugee crisis", Journal of Communication Management, Vol. 26 No. 1, pp. 98-114. https://doi.org/10.1108/JCOM-04-2021-0042

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited

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