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Article
Publication date: 7 April 2015

Wim J.L. Elving, Ursa Golob, Klement Podnar, Anne Ellerup - Nielsen and Christa Thomson

This editorial is an introduction to the special issue on CSR Communication attached to the second CSR Communication Conference held in Aarhus (Denmark) in September 2013…

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7285

Abstract

Purpose

This editorial is an introduction to the special issue on CSR Communication attached to the second CSR Communication Conference held in Aarhus (Denmark) in September 2013. The purpose of this paper is to critically evaluate the role of CSR communication and the development of theory and practice of CSR Communication in recent years.

Design/methodology/approach

The editorial sets up a research agenda for the future, the premises outlined about the role of CSR communication being based on Habermas’ (1984) idea of instrumental/strategic and communicative action.

Findings

The theoretically based research shows that there are different framings of CSR. In the first framing, the business discourse is trying to institutionalize CSR and sustainability by pursuing CSR purely as a business case. In the second framing, alternative CSR discourses are challenging the business discourse, communication being oriented towards shared understanding.

Originality/value

The above findings are original insofar as they have implications for CSR communication scholars and practitioners. It is, for example, important that they acknowledge that two kinds of framings exist, and that they are interdependent. Hence, they should not fall into the trap of a critical discourse of suspicion where CSR communication is constantly criticized as a tool to serve business interests. In the context of strategic and/or communicative action, CSR communication occurs in different forms and for different purposes – either as informative, persuasive, aspirational and participatory type of CSR communication.

Details

Corporate Communications: An International Journal, vol. 20 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1356-3289

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 7 September 2018

Anne Ellerup Nielsen and Christa Thomsen

The purpose of this paper is to answer the call for CSR communication research to develop and substantiate outcomes that may better explain CSR communication strategies…

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10563

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to answer the call for CSR communication research to develop and substantiate outcomes that may better explain CSR communication strategies and practices. The paper takes the research a step further, exploring the role of legitimacy in CSR communication research.

Design/methodology/approach

A literature collection methodology, combined with directed content analysis, was used to identify central themes in the literature.

Findings

The following categories of studies were identified: perception, impact and promotion studies; image and reputation studies; performance studies; and conceptual/rhetorical studies. Addressed from a legitimacy perspective, the study found that the most important types of legitimizing communicative practices articulated in the four types of studies were related to: seeking knowledge about stakeholders through perception, impact and promotion activities; monitoring and controlling the environment through image and reputation activities; creating stakeholder value through collaboration and engagement; and persuading and convincing stakeholders through rhetorics, CSR models and concepts. The study also found that practices and activities related to perceiving stakeholders’ expectations, needs and requirements are assumed to be most effective for corporations aiming at building or maintaining legitimacy.

Originality/value

The key contribution of the paper lies in exploring how corporate legitimacy is anticipated and extrapolated in the CSR communication literature, including which pinpointed CSR communication strategies and practices are assumed to be more effective than others in bridging stakeholders’ perceptions of corporations’ social and environmental actions. Until date, no reviews exist of the role of legitimacy in CSR communication research.

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Corporate Communications: An International Journal, vol. 23 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1356-3289

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Article
Publication date: 24 April 2013

Urša Golob, Klement Podnar, Wim J. Elving, Anne Ellerup Nielsen, Christa Thomsen and Friederike Schultz

This paper aims to introduce the special issue on CSR communication attached to the First International CSR Communication Conference held in Amsterdam in October 2011. The…

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8821

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to introduce the special issue on CSR communication attached to the First International CSR Communication Conference held in Amsterdam in October 2011. The aim of the introduction is also to review CSR communication papers published in scholarly journals in order to make a summary of the state of CSR communication knowledge.

Design/methodology/approach

The existing literature on CSR communication was approached via systematic review. with a combination of conventional and summative qualitative content analysis. The final dataset contained 90 papers from two main business and management databases, i.e. EBSCOhost and ProQuest.

Findings

Papers were coded into three main categories. The results show that the majority of the papers are concerned with disclosure themes. Considerably less salient are papers that fall under process‐oriented themes and the outcomes/consequences of CSR communications. The most important outlets for CSR communication‐related topics are Journal of Business Ethics and Corporate Communications: An International Journal.

Originality/value

This paper represents the first attempt to perform a systematic and comprehensive overview of CSR communication papers in scholarly journals. Its value is in making this rather vast and heterogeneous literature more visible and accessible to all CSR communication scholars.

Details

Corporate Communications: An International Journal, vol. 18 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1356-3289

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Article
Publication date: 3 April 2017

Ursa Golob, Natasa Verk, Anne Ellerup-Nielsen, Christa Thomsen, Wim J.L. Elving and Klement Podnar

The purpose of this paper is to introduce the third special issue on corporate social responsibility communication (CSRCom). In this editorial, the authors take the…

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2570

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to introduce the third special issue on corporate social responsibility communication (CSRCom). In this editorial, the authors take the opportunity to share the latest knowledge, research and insights on CSRCom as presented at the third International CSR Communication Conference held in Ljubljana 17-19 September 2015.

Design/methodology/approach

Many efforts have been made to map the research field of CSRCom. Two major ontological streams seem to stand out in CSRCom research: functionalism vs constructivism. In this editorial, the authors describe each of them, address the factors which contributed to their implementation within the CSRCom field and provide a rationale for bridging the two approaches.

Findings

The papers selected for the issue demonstrate that recent studies of CSRCom are anchored both in functionalism and constructivism but that the attention towards using CSRCom in organisational processes of collaboration and networking is growing. This growth is aligned to the changes in the wider social environment. In this editorial, the authors are bridging both approaches and relating them to the most recent developments in CSR and CSRCom.

Originality/value

This paper concludes that a growing body of empirical studies contributes to an increased understanding of how both functionalistic and constitutive perspectives are relevant and provide key insights for communication managers. It also accentuates the idea that the ability to expand the understanding of CSRCom from that of a means to an end to one, according to which communication represents an important end/goal in itself, that can play a crucial role in dealing with the growing complexity of CSR processes.

Details

Corporate Communications: An International Journal, vol. 22 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1356-3289

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Article
Publication date: 9 August 2011

Trine Susanne Johansen and Anne Ellerup Nielsen

Societal developments and stakeholder awareness place responsibility and legitimacy high on corporate agendas. Increased awareness heightens focus on stakeholder relations…

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3713

Abstract

Purpose

Societal developments and stakeholder awareness place responsibility and legitimacy high on corporate agendas. Increased awareness heightens focus on stakeholder relations and dialogue as key aspects in corporate social responsibility (CSR), corporate identity and corporate communication scholarship, but the question remains how can dialogue be initiated and maintained? The purpose of this paper is to establish a framework for conceptualizing dialogue.

Design/methodology/approach

Through a review of CSR, corporate identity, corporate communication and stakeholder literature, a framework is developed taking into account the different stakes held by key stakeholder groups, i.e. consumers, investors, employees, non‐governmental organization and suppliers. Based on the discursive terms of form and script, we argue that different stakes condition different dialogical types.

Findings

The paper argues that the stakeholder orientations of the CSR, corporate identity and corporate communication disciplines can aid in strengthening dialogue. It is thus suggested that dialogue may be strengthened by constructing a framework which links the stakes held by key stakeholder groups to specific dialogue forms and scripts.

Practical implications

The practical implication of articulating stakeholder dialogue as scripted interaction is that organizations seeking to engage stakeholders strategically must understand and respect conventions and expectations.

Originality/value

The paper's contribution is to expand the notion of dialogue within communication research and to provide organizations with a framework for understanding stakeholder involvement in identity relevant issues of responsibility and legitimacy.

Details

Corporate Communications: An International Journal, vol. 16 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1356-3289

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Article
Publication date: 24 April 2013

Dennis Schoeneborn and Hannah Trittin

Extant research on corporate social responsibility (CSR) communication primarily relies on a transmission model of communication that treats organizations and…

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6777

Abstract

Purpose

Extant research on corporate social responsibility (CSR) communication primarily relies on a transmission model of communication that treats organizations and communication as distinct phenomena. This approach has been criticized for neglecting the formative role of communication in the emergence of organizations. This paper seeks to propose to reconceptualize CSR communication by drawing on the “communication constitutes organizations” (CCO) perspective.

Design/methodology/approach

This is a conceptual paper that explores the implications of switching from an instrumental to a constitutive notion of communication.

Findings

The study brings forth four main findings: from the CCO view, organizations are constituted by several, partly dissonant, and potentially contradictory communicative practices. From that viewpoint, the potential impact of CSR communication becomes a matter of connectivity of CSR to other practices of organizational communication. Communication practices that concern CSR should not be generally dismissed as mere “greenwashing” – given that some forms of talk can be action. Consequently, there is a need to investigate which specific speech acts create accountability and commitment in the context of CSR. The CCO view shows that CSR communication potentially extends the boundary of the organization through the involvement of third parties. Thus, it is fruitful to study CSR communication as a set of practices that aims at boundary maintenance and extension. Organizations are stabilized by various non‐human entities that “act” on their behalf. Accordingly, CSR communication should also take into account non‐human agency and responsibility.

Originality/value

This paper links the literature on CSR communication to broader debates in organizational communication studies and, in particular, to the CCO perspective. By applying the CCO view, it reconceptualizes CSR communication as a complex process of meaning negotiation.

Details

Corporate Communications: An International Journal, vol. 18 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1356-3289

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Article
Publication date: 2 October 2009

Anne Ellerup Nielsen and Hanne Nørreklit

The purpose of this paper is to analyse the control assumptions embedded in some textbooks on management coaching with a view to uncovering the potentialities and…

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1985

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to analyse the control assumptions embedded in some textbooks on management coaching with a view to uncovering the potentialities and constraints applying to the individual's self‐realisation project.

Design/methodology/approach

By means of a qualitative discourse analysis of selected works on management coaching, the paper examines the rhetorical articulation of the management coaching concept in terms of established discourses of managing and controlling the individual.

Findings

As a result of the findings, the paper categorises the management coaching literature into two types: employee and executive coaching, respectively. It demonstrates that employee coaching seems to involve action control and direct monitoring, while executive coaching involves control of the spirit as well as results/achievements, thereby generating tight constraints on the individual's self‐realisation project. It concludes that coaching can be a stronger disciplining technique than control by numbers.

Originality/value

The paper provides insight into how writing on management coaching may help to construct power structures and social relationships reflected in society. There have been other studies analysing, for example, how performance measurements produce power structures and social relationships, but to the best of one's knowledge none of these has focused on management coaching – nor have they drawn on discourse analysis, which allows one to discern the social orders of popular management practices.

Details

Society and Business Review, vol. 4 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1746-5680

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Article
Publication date: 6 February 2007

Anne Ellerup Nielsen and Christa Thomsen

This paper seeks to analyse and discuss what organizations say and how they say it when reporting Corporate Social Responsibility. It raises the question whether…

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17810

Abstract

Purpose

This paper seeks to analyse and discuss what organizations say and how they say it when reporting Corporate Social Responsibility. It raises the question whether organizations report consistently on CSR in terms of genres, media, rhetorical strategies, etc.

Design/methodology/approach

The analysis takes critical discourse analysis of selected corporations' CSR reporting, on the one hand, and theories and research on CSR and stakeholder relations, on the other hand, as its starting‐point. A model of analysis is proposed which presents discourse as a result of four kinds of challenges facing corporations today. The model serves to establish an ideal typology of CSR concepts and discourses and to analyse these discourses from a modern organizational and corporate communication perspective.

Findings

The analysis shows that annual reports are very dissimilar with respect to topics on the one hand and dimensions and discourses expressed in perspectives, stakeholder priorities, contextual information and ambition levels, on the other hand. The paper argues that corporations seem to be wrapped in divergent configurations of interest stemming from different institutional affiliations, such as government, regional institutions and NGOs.

Originality/value

The contribution of the paper is to highlight the value of the discourse and the discourse types adopted in the reporting material. By adopting consistent discourse types which interact according to a well‐defined pattern or order it is possible to communicate a strong social commitment, on the one hand, and take into consideration the expectations of the shareholders and of the other stakeholders, on the other hand.

Details

Corporate Communications: An International Journal, vol. 12 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1356-3289

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Article
Publication date: 4 May 2012

Irene Pollach, Trine S. Johansen, Anne Ellerup Nielsen and Christa Thomsen

This paper aims to shed light on corporate practices regarding the integration of CSR into corporate communication in large European companies.

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4984

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to shed light on corporate practices regarding the integration of CSR into corporate communication in large European companies.

Design/methodology/approach

An e‐mail survey was conducted among large European companies in a total of 14 European countries. The questionnaire focuses on the organization of corporate communication activities, the organization of CSR activities, and the cooperation between the two.

Findings

The authors find that CSR is managed most frequently by CSR departments, but also by communication departments to a small extent. Whichever organization is chosen, the communication departments frequently engage in cooperation with the CSR departments. The more frequently the two cooperate, the more likely they are to have formalised their cooperation. The authors also conclude that the communication department is generally aligned to the strategic management of the organization, whereas this is not always the case for the CSR department.

Research limitations/implications

A limitation of the study is clearly the sample size, which could have been larger. However, corporate policies against survey participation pose an obstacle to large‐scale surveys among companies in general.

Originality/value

The question of whether and how companies integrate CSR and communication responsibilities is an under‐researched area. This paper provides empirical evidence of how large companies manage the two functions in their organizations.

Details

Journal of Communication Management, vol. 16 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1363-254X

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Article
Publication date: 7 April 2015

Michael Andreas Etter and Anne Vestergaard

It is crucial for corporate communication to know how different public sources frame a crisis and how these sources influence each other. The purpose of this study is to…

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3037

Abstract

Purpose

It is crucial for corporate communication to know how different public sources frame a crisis and how these sources influence each other. The purpose of this study is to investigate the role of Facebook by examining – if the public represented on Facebook contributes distinct frames to the discursive negotiation of a crisis at all, and whether the public represented on Facebook is able to influence the crisis framing of news media.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors compared how four different public sources framed the Nestlé Kit Kat crisis: news media, corporate communication, NGOs, and Facebook users. The authors therefore, coded 5,185 sentences from the four sources and conducted a frame-analysis through the detection of co-occurrence between actors and attributions. A cross-correlation with a seven-day lag in each direction was applied to detect the frame-setting effects between the public represented on Facebook and news media.

Findings

While the public represented on Facebook is found to apply distinct crisis frames in comparison to conventional sources, its frame-setting power is limited. In contrast to findings from political communication, it is rather the news media that influences the crisis framing in social media. The role of the public represented on Facebook, hence, appears marginal in comparison to news media that remain a major force in the discursive negotiation of a corporate crisis.

Originality/value

As a first study, crisis framing in social media is compared with that of news media, NGOs, and corporate communication. Second, so far there have been no studies in the corporate communication field investigating the frame-setting effects between social media and news media. Contrary to social media’s promising frame-setting power ascribed by some scholars, the authors do not find such effects with Facebook, the most popular social media tool to date.

Details

Corporate Communications: An International Journal, vol. 20 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1356-3289

Keywords

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