Major Assignment Guidelines | SP22 Online Weekly Discussion Guidelines Discussions are paired with written assignments and/or assigned readings. There are ten opportunities for formal discussion throughout the semester. To quickly recap these are: Discussion Board Module. 1: Discuss which perspective and orientation you would adopt to develop a CSR campaign and why? Module 2: Describe the origins and purpose of benefit corporations and B Corps. How are they different? What is the distinctive purpose of each and how do they each support a company’s CSR agenda? Module 3: Discuss the pros and cons, best practices, and tactics to integrate social media in CSR campaign communications. Module 4: Discuss factors and trends relevant to CSR coalition-building. Identify one coalition with promise and explain what makes it particularly effective. Module 5: Discuss stakeholder engagement generally and more specifically as it relates to your project. Module 6: Discuss three SDGs that interest you and describe the pros and cons of a multinational firm adopting one of these goals. Module 7: Discuss the challenges of CSR communication to inform and engage transnational publics. Module 8: Discuss the elements of a campaign and the relationship between goal(s) and objectives. Share your observations of how these two elements affect messaging. Module 9: Discuss: How CEO activism affects stakeholders. What are the opportunities and risks? Module 11: Discuss challenges and limitations in monitoring and evaluation and the connection between strategies, tactics and evaluation. Each discussion is worth 8 points, following this rubric: • Initiates at least one discussion thread • Posts a response in at least two other discussion threads • Comments are constructive. • Comments are substantive and introduce new information, data or perspectives. 1 Major Assignment Guidelines | SP 22 Online Written Assignment: Critique of a CSR-Themed Social Media Campaign Due Tuesday of the week of assignment Points 15 Length Three pages (750 – 900 words) Prompt and description of the assignment: For this assignment, you will critique a CSR campaign of your choosing (excluding any covered in the weekly readings and lecture) that was launched and conducted primarily through social media. You will research and select the social media campaign through on-line research of CSRWire and related sources in the open and peer reviewed literature. Rubric Criteria Fully Successful (3 points) Partially Successful (2 points) Needs Improvement (1 point) Reading and research The critique assesses the CSR initiative in terms of social media techniques and best practices The critique assesses the CSR initiative in terms of the corporation’s goals and objectives The critique merely summarizes the CSR initiative Audience Analysis The critique includes potential to engage audience members and stakeholders through social media The critique treats audience members and stakeholders as passive receivers of information The critique ignores the audience and stakeholders Insight The critique explains why the social media succeeded for failed to achieve the desired impact or results, including best practices and fundamental strengths, as well as specific tactics The critique renders judgment on whether the social media campaign succeeded or failed based on the specific tactics employed The critique merely describes the campaign’s perceived impact Substance The critique presents defensible claims based in CSR principles The critique inadequately addresses CSR principles The critique addresses external circumstances to the exclusion of CSR principles Good writing The critique demonstrates both eloquence and proficiency The critique demonstrates proficiency in writing The critique exhibits weak composition and grammatical and proof reading errors 2 Major Assignment Guidelines | SP 22 Online Written Assignment: Critique of Corporate Leadership Due Tuesday of the week of assignment Points 15 Length Three pages (750 – 900 words) For this assignment, you will critique a corporate leader’s advocacy and implementation of a CSR initiative of your choosing. You will research and select a corporate CSR campaign to critique through online research of CSRWire and related sources in the open and peer reviewed literature. Rubric Criteria Fully Successful (3 points) Partially Successful (2 points) Needs Improvement 1 point Reading and research Assesses initiative in terms of the leader’s motivations and external context Assesses initiative in terms of the leader’s motivations Merely summarizes the initiative Audience Analysis Includes audience or stakeholder expectations and reaction Includes audience or stakeholder reaction Ignores the audience Insight Explains why the CEO’s advocacy succeeded or failed to make an impact Makes a judgment on whether the CSR initiative succeeded or failed Merely describes public reaction to the initiative Substance Makes a defensible claim about principles of corporate leadership Inadequately addresses principles of corporate leadership Ignores principles of corporate leadership Good writing Demonstrates both eloquence and proficiency Demonstrates proficiency Weak composition; grammatical and proof reading errors 3 Major Assignment Guidelines | SP 22 Online Assignment: Communication Campaign Elements Due: See Syllabus Points: 5 points each Communication Campaign Elements (Building Blocks) Client Profile Stakeholder map Goal(s) and objectives Message maps Strategies and Tactics Evaluation plan 4 Major Assignment Guidelines | SP 22 Online Assignment CSR Campaign Pitch Due Tuesday of the week of assignment Points 15 Length 8 to 10 minutes Prompt and description of the assignment: Using Voicethread, create a campaign pitch for the CSR campaign that your business client will implement. Potential partners and stakeholders whose support is necessary to the campaign’s success compose your audience for the campaign pitch. Rubric Criteria Intellectual Property Structure Collaboration and Leveraging Strategies Fully successful (3 points) The CSR campaign is well defined, appropriately scoped, contextualized, strong on substance, and within the organization’s means and mandate The pitch incorporates all elements of a CSR campaign (stakeholder analysis, goals and objectives, messaging, implementing strategies and tactics, and M&E) in a comprehensive and coherent manner Partially successful (2 points) The CSR campaign is well defined and appropriately scoped, but lacks data or other supports Needs Improvement (1 point) The CSR communication campaign is ill defined and scoped too broadly. The plan is weak on substance The pitch inadequately addresses one or more elements of a CSR campaign, but hangs together Pitch over-emphasizes a single element; elements are disconnected The pitch identifies potential partners in multiple sectors and offers a value proposition for their participation in the campaign The pitch identifies Pitch fails to identify potential partners prospective organizations but lacks specificity to join the campaign on how and why they would join the campaign 5 Major Assignment Guidelines | SP 22 Online Delivery Presentation is visually appealing, tightly packed and well rehearsed; the delivery is motivating Impact (a holistic, qualitative assessment of the pitch) The pitch employs a variety of persuasive techniques and clinches the argument Visuals have limited appeal; the narrator uses voice well, but occasionally stumbles in delivery and concentration The pitch employs persuasion but fails to clinch the argument 6 Visuals lack appeal; the narration is monotone and lacking in energy The pitch presents is not persuasive Major Assignment Guidelines | SP 22 Online Assignment Peer review of a classmate’s CSR campaign pitch Due Tuesday of the week of assignment Points 15 Each student will peer review two classmates’ campaign pitches, assigned by the instructor. A peer review will be shared only between the peer reviewer and the student who made the pitch, and the instructor. The instructor will initiate the peer reviews via email, and will ask the peer reviewer to share his or her comment sheet in reply. Rubric Criteria Fully successful (3 points) Partially successful (2 points) Needs Improvement (1 point) Comments are substantive Comments offer unique and well considered ideas to strengthen the campaign plan Comments offer solid ideas to strengthen the campaign plan Comments offer generic advice or best practices Comments are attributable Comments draw on secondary sources used during the course Comments draw on best practices documented in open source literature Comments are confined to personal opinion Comments are specific Comments are directed toward a specific element or aspect of the pitch, Suggestions are too generalized or vague to incorporate in final campaign plan Comments can be implemented in a timely and efficient manner Comments can be reconciled in a timely manner without additional research or effort Suggestions apply to the overall pitch rather than targeting a specific area or element for improvement Comments can be reconciled in a timely manner, but will require additional research or effort Comments are provided in a constructive tone Comments recognize both strengths and weaknesses of the pitch and guide Comments focus on weaknesses only, in the spirit of constructive criticism Comments focus on weaknesses and are directive or unnecessarily harsh in tone 7 Comments cannot be addressed within the peer’s deadline Major Assignment Guidelines | SP 22 Online revisions in a constructive manner 8 Major Assignment Guidelines | SP 22 Online Assignment CSR Campaign Communications Plan Due Tuesday of the week of assignment Points 30 Prompt and description of the assignment: Submit a communications plan that encompasses what you have learned and practiced regarding CSR Campaign Communications during this course, incorporating feedback from the instructor and peers. Rubric Criteria Fully successful 3 points Partially successful 2 points Needs Improvement 1 point Context The plan demonstrates a full understanding of the client’s history and operating context; associated strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats; and governance frameworks The plan fully addresses the client’s current operating context, including strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats The plan gives perfunctory treatment to the client’s operating context Stakeholder Analysis The plan fully considers and appropriately segments stakeholders based on interests, needs, relationships and social context The plan considers and segments stakeholders in a manner sufficient to target messages The plan inadequately identifies key stakeholders Enterprise goals The plan demonstrates a nuanced understanding of the client’s mission, vision and enterprise goals The plan discusses the client’s mission and vision and conveys the client’s enterprise goals The plan recites the client’s mission and vision statements Partnering and alliancebuilding The plan identifies potential partners in multiple sectors and offers a value proposition for their participation The plan identifies one or two potential partners but lacks specificity on how and why they would join the campaign The plan presumes the client will execute all elements of the campaign 9 Major Assignment Guidelines | SP 22 Online Messaging The messaging strategy is complete, constructed well and targeted Individual messages are well constructed but not targeted The messaging strategy is incomplete and poorly constructed Strategy and Tactics The implementation strategy/tactics are tightly aligned with the campaign’s goals and objectives; achieves broad and deep reach with stakeholder segments; and includes both engagement and information strategies. The implementation strategy/tactics employ a variety of tools and methods, and is generally aligned with campaign goals and objectives The implementation plan is poorly or underdeveloped 10 Major Assignment Guidelines | SP 22 Online Campaign Plan Criteria, cont. Fully successful 3 points Partially successful 2 points Needs Improvement 1 point Monitoring and evaluation The monitoring and evaluation framework is sound; metrics are aligned with communication objectives The monitoring and evaluation framework includes metrics, but is focused on outputs of implementing strategies The plan presents a logic frame for monitoring and evaluation with no discernable metrics Evidence Base Claims are fully supported using a variety of evidence Claims are partially supported; evidence is sparse Claims are presented as a matter of opinion Impact The campaign is The campaign integrates a The plan has limited creative and variety of techniques to appeal innovative; the plan achieve quick wins integrates a variety of techniques to persuade and motivate stakeholders over the life of the campaign Overall Quality The plan is well organized, well written, visually appealing, and easy to understand The plan is well organized and well written 11 The plan is poorly organized and poorly written The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at: www.emeraldinsight.com/1356-3289.htm CCIJ 23,4 Reviewing corporate social responsibility communication: a legitimacy perspective 492 Anne Ellerup Nielsen and Christa Thomsen Department of Business and Social Sciences, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark Received 4 April 2018 Revised 25 July 2018 Accepted 25 July 2018 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. Keywords Legitimacy, Corporate social responsibility, Corporate communications, Content analysis Paper type Literature review Introduction Many corporations are concerned with gaining legitimacy through integrating the expectations of their stakeholders into the overall company strategy. For decades, for example, the Danish pharmaceutical corporation Novo Nordisk has engaged systematically with multiple stakeholders in order to address key areas of their business. The company recognizes that “it is essential to establish a positive interaction not merely between management and investors, but also in relation to other stakeholders” (Novo Nordisk, 2015). Another example is Shell. Shell focuses, for example, “on the environmental and social challenges that matter most to our key stakeholders. A thorough process was used to identify the sustainability topics for our reporting based on information from internal and external sources” (Shell, 2015). The growing expectations of stakeholders are connected to the process of globalization. In this context, social and environmental disasters due to a lack of corporate self-regulation have challenged corporate legitimacy (Palazzo and Scherer, 2006; Scherer and Palazzo, 2007). Corporate Communications: An International Journal Vol. 23 No. 4, 2018 pp. 492-511 Emerald Publishing Limited 1356-3289 DOI 10.1108/CCIJ-04-2018-0042 © Anne Ellerup Nielsen and Christa Thomsen. Published by Emerald Publishing Limited. This article is published under the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 4.0) licence. Anyone may reproduce, distribute, translate and create derivative works of this article (for both commercial & non-commercial purposes), subject to full attribution to the original publication and authors. The full terms of this licence may be seen at http://creativecommons.org/licences/by/4.0/legalcode As a result of this, stakeholders are increasingly requiring that corporations justify their social and environmental actions. Corporate legitimacy has been defined as “a generalized perception or assumption that the actions of an entity are desirable, proper, or appropriate within some socially constructed system of norms, values, beliefs, and definitions” (Suchman, 1995, p. 574). Thus, obtaining legitimacy by aligning corporate behavior with stakeholder expectations is necessary to guarantee the corporation’s continued existence (Dawkins, 2004). This has created an increased emphasis on effective stakeholder communication and issues that can be grouped under the headline of CSR. CSR has been defined as “a practice which corporations undertake to integrate social, environmental, ethical, human rights and consumer concerns into their business operations and core strategy in close collaboration with their stakeholders” (European Commission, 2011, p. 681). In line with this, CSR communication is defined in this study as a communicative practice, which corporations undertake to integrate social, environmental, ethical, human rights and consumer concerns into their business operations and core strategy in close collaboration with their stakeholders. Judging by the number of case studies in academic literature, at conferences, seminars, etc., there is an increasing interest in the communicative practice of CSR. Yet, despite the recognition of the importance of legitimacy in CSR communication, this topic has only recently been investigated (e.g. Du et al., 2010; Du and Vieira, 2012; Golob et al., 2013; Ihlen et al., 2011; Morsing et al., 2008; Palazzo and Scherer, 2006; Scherer and Palazzo, 2007, 2011; Schultz, Castelló and Morsing, 2013; Schultz, Morsing and Castello, 2013). However, in most cases, the focus has been on isolated factors, e.g. message content, communication approach, process and channel, that influence outcomes broadly defined as reputation, legitimacy and effectiveness. It is not until recently that reviews of CSR communication literature have emerged that address on a more general-level CSR communication streams, themes, challenges and opportunities or outcomes (Crane and Glozer, 2016; Elving et al., 2015; Nielsen and Thomsen, 2012). Until date, no reviews exist of the role of legitimacy in CSR communication research, which is the purpose of this paper. The question raised is: RQ1. How can corporate social responsibility communication create legitimacy? In order to answer this research question, the international research was reviewed, the argument being that the way CSR scholars conceptualize CSR communication demonstrates how CSR communication may lead to gaining and/or losing legitimacy. The key contribution of the paper lies in exploring how corporate legitimacy is anticipated and extrapolated in 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 and the corporate CSR agenda. Theoretical framework: CSR, corporate communication and legitimacy CSR is increasingly seen as an integrated part of corporate communication (e.g. Cornelissen, 2011/2014; Pollach et al., 2012; Van Riel, 1995). The uniqueness of CSR communication research can be highlighted by considering how it pursues the four prevailing justifications for CSR in strategic management research: moral obligation, sustainability, license to operate and reputation (Porter and Kramer, 2006, p. 81; see also Secchi, 2007; Wood, 2010). In a strict moral perspective, CSR communication research needs to focus on communication initiatives whereby corporations “achieve commercial success in ways that honor ethical values and respect people, communities, and the natural environment” (Porter and Kramer, 2006, p. 81). In a sustainability perspective, CSR communication research needs to focus on communication initiatives supporting corporations in their efforts to meet “the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (Porter and Kramer, 2006, p. 81). The underlying assumption behind the notion of “license to operate” is Corporate social responsibility communication 493 CCIJ 23,4 494 that every company needs tacit or explicit permission (legitimacy) from governments, communities and numerous other stakeholders to do business. Thus, CSR communication research needs to focus on communication initiatives related to obtaining and maintaining this permission. Finally, in a reputation perspective, CSR communication research needs to focus on communication initiatives that will “improve a company’s image, strengthen its brand, enliven morale, and even raise the value of its stock” (Porter and Kramer, 2006, p. 82). Corporate legitimacy Legitimacy is considered vital for the survival of organizations and a prerequisite for the flow of resources and stakeholder support (Palazzo and Scherer, 2006, p. 71). Accordingly, legitimacy is seen as “a process whereby organizations seek approval for their acts from groups in society” (Kaplan and Ruland, 1991, p. 320). Following Suchman (1995), legitimacy is a socially constructed concept based on how organizations’ actions are perceived or assumed within a “socially constructed system of norms, values, beliefs, and definitions” (Suchman, 1995, p. 574). Suchman’s definition of legitimacy as pragmatic, moral and cognitive is widely used as a point of reference for scholars dealing with legitimacy and institutionalization processes. Pragmatic legitimacy is connected to instrumental CSR and framed as the exchange between an organization and its stakeholders according to self-interested benefits. Moral legitimacy is value based, and approaches CSR through the context of ethics. It is based on judgments about whether the organization’s activities result in societal benefits that adhere to the socially constructed value system of the stakeholders. Finally, cognitive legitimacy is what organizations may acquire by conforming to what is regarded as mainstream in business life and taken for granted by the public (Palazzo and Scherer, 2006; Suchman, 1995). With the general expansion of CSR, CSR legitimacy strategies and practices are increasingly routinized and institutionalized, whereby the stage of cognitive legitimacy is gradually reached (Suchman, 1995, p. 585). In recent years, however, moral legitimacy has achieved a more intense position with the general move toward corporate self-regulation. As a result, the pressure on global interaction and networking between political actors and corporate leaders to discuss and deliberate CSR challenges, standards, goals and processes is growing, setting higher expectations of corporate moral legitimacy act and consequently on the role played by CSR communication (Palazzo and Scherer, 2006; Castello and Lozano, 2011; Scherer and Palazzo, 2007, 2011; Seele and Lock, 2015; Wagner and Seele, 2017). Strategies aimed at gaining legitimacy are multiple. They may range from conforming to demands, ideals or models to selecting markets, domains, labels or advertising to persuading or institutionalizing. Strategies for maintaining or repairing legitimacy may take a more protectionist, monitoring, denying, excusing or explaining shape across the three basic types of legitimacy (Suchman, 1995, p. 600). Communication plays a crucial role in the conceptualization and practice of these strategies in which both corporate dissemination and deliberation serve the process of building corporate legitimacy. The pursuit of legitimacy via CSR communication is primarily anchored in the “self-promoter paradox” establishing a clash between corporate promises and public expectations of whether these promises are lofty or actually met (Ashforth and Gibbs, 1990, p. 186). Communication researchers have framed this paradox as “the CSR Promotional Dilemma” (Coombs and Holladay, 2012). The dilemma is embedded in much CSR communication and often takes the form of conscientious, codified strategy practice. Navigating the balance between framing CSR activities as, on the one hand, an ethical urge to do “good” and, on the other hand, a best practice of organizational self-interest has thus proved to be a double-edged sword for many businesses (Carroll and Shabana, 2010). Communicatively, the paradox above has a considerable impact on the understanding of CSR as a means to gain corporate legitimacy. On the one hand CSR communication is addressed as a “documentation” discipline, on the other hand as a “rhetorical device.” While documenting via CSR communication responds to the growing demand for transparency and accountability in corporations’ CSR activities, the negative understanding of CSR as a rhetorical device refers to the condescension expressed toward CSR communication by critical voices who view CSR as nothing but “window dressing,” “green/blue/pink washing,” “a PR invention,” etc. (e.g. Frankental, 2001; Dubbink et al., 2008; Amazeen, 2011). In the political sense of CSR as self-regulation, CSR communication is framed as a deliberative rather than a rhetorical device based on how to give “credit to the interests and arguments of a wide range of constituencies that are affected by the activities of (multinational) corporations” (Scherer and Palazzo, 2011, p. 916). From a legitimacy perspective, the tension between the embedded understandings and framings above articulates how organizations seek approval for their acts in different ways from multiple stakeholder groups, which will be demonstrated below. With the above concepts and theories in mind, and in order to examine the potential for CSR communication to create corporate legitimacy, it is argued that a range of determinants of CSR communication anchored in the strategic positioning of the organization contribute to position the company vis-à-vis its competitors in the marketplace. Furthermore, it is assumed that the effect of the considered determinants on corporate legitimacy are monitored by three moderators (Suchman, 1995): (1) conforming to stakeholder demands, ideals or models; (2) selecting markets, domains, labels or advertising; and (3) persuading (e.g. informing, explaining, monitoring, denying and excusing). In the analysis below, this argument is substantiated. Method To gain a comprehensive view of how CSR communication is conceptualized in the literature, a systematic review was conducted (Peloza and Shang, 2011). Systematic reviews “summarize in an explicit way what is known and not known about a specific practice-related question” (Briner et al., 2009, p. 19). Search words were selected within the fields and disciplines considered particularly relevant in a CSR communication perspective: marketing communication, public relations and stakeholder communication as a broader category. These approaches basically reflect key targets of the communication: consumers and customers (CSR marketing communication); publics (CSR public relations); and stakeholders in general including employees and NGOs (CSR corporate communication). A literature collection methodology, combined with directed content analysis (Hsieh and Shannon, 2005), was used to identify central themes in the literature. The following selection criteria were adopted: • Two-step search process: “CSR” combined with “communication”; “CSR communication”; “CSR” combined with: “marketing communication,” “advertising,” “management communication,”public relations,” “corporate communication,” “organizational communication” and “dialogue”; and “CSR communication” combined with “stakeholder” and “legitimacy.” • International peer-reviewed articles in academic journals (full text, references available, English language and more than four pages). • Date of publication in the period 2000–2017. The search was undertaken using the citation search facility of the ABI/INFORM, EBSCO’s Business Source Complete, Communication and Mass Media Complete (CMMC) and JSTOR, and through reference list searching. The databases selected cover social sciences, broadly Corporate social responsibility communication 495 CCIJ 23,4 496 defined, including communication, the Business Source Complete and the CMMC databases being regarded as the dominant databases within business/economics and communication research, respectively. A total of 207 references were generated in the first broad search for “CSR” combined with “communication,” whereas the search for “CSR communication” resulted in fewer references, all of which also came up in the first broad search for “CSR” combined with “communication.” Interestingly, 53 out of the 207 references were from 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017, demonstrating that CSR communication is a growing field. Our narrow search for “CSR” combined with “marketing communication,” “advertising,” “management communication,” “public relations,” “corporate communication,” “organizational communication” and “dialogue,” as well as “CSR communication” combined with “stakeholder,” confirmed our first broad search, and only a few additional articles were added to our list. There was extensive overlap between articles from the two databases used, BSC and CMMC. However, a number of articles on CSR public relations and CSR corporate communication were found in CMMC which had not come up in our BSC search, and which were consequently added. Out of the total number of references, 151 were selected for review with the help of content analysis framed within CSR and corporate communication, the selection criteria being: exclusion of references classified as proceedings, use of the word “CSR” in keywords, title and abstract, and framing within CSR and communication. Directed content analysis was used to interpret meaning from the content of our text data (Hsieh and Shannon, 2005). Each of the selected 151 articles was analyzed for CSR communication content based on the definition of CSR (communication) and occurrences of key concepts and notions such as, e.g., “attitude,” “belief,” “perception,” “impact,” “sense-making,” “promotion,” “message,” “skepticism,” etc., supporting particular communicative perspectives and understandings of CSR communication. Findings In the following, the most important types of framings and themes registered for how scholars anticipate CSR communication as a means to create, maintain and enhance corporate legitimacy are presented. Perception, impact and promotion studies The first group of studies investigates how especially consumers evaluate specific CSR efforts and how they affect their relationship with brands (perception) with regard to their attitude toward or likeliness to purchase brands (impact). These studies thus first and foremost buy into the idea of CSR as a promotional tool (promotion), reflecting a particular urge to investigate consumers’ but also other stakeholders’ attitudes toward CSR communication. Consumers’ reactions, in particular, to CSR initiatives in terms of awareness, attitude, behavior and expectations, etc., have been subject to several studies (e.g. Golob et al., 2008; Pérez and Rodríguez del Bosque, 2013; Pomering and Dolnicar, 2009; Stanalan et al., 2011). Some studies focused on the relationship between consumer perception of CSR communication and purchase intention (Dutta and Singh, 2013; Sora, 2011; Wang and Anderson, 2011) and others addressed issues such as the corporate perception of stakeholder pressure (Vazquez-Brust et al., 2010) or financial analysts’ perception of CSR strategies (Fieseler, 2011). In a similar vein, a group of studies addressed the impact of CSR communication on brands/reputation/CSR perception. They may be categorized as effect and impact studies providing insight into the extent to which CSR communication does, or is likely to, affect brand equity, reputation and consumer skepticism (e.g. Becker-Olsen et al., 2011; Bilowol and Doan, 2015; Elving, 2013; Jahdi and Acikdilli, 2009; Parquel et al., 2011). Both perception and impact studies were particularly important in marketing-oriented studies of CSR communication. A general characteristic of this research is its focus on the development and use of methods and mechanisms that may explain and measure the effect of corporations’ CSR initiatives and communication on stakeholders’ brand perception and identification as well as brand reputation. One example is a study demonstrating that consumer perception is enhanced when a brand is viewed as global (Becker-Olsen et al., 2011). Another perception-related study demonstrates that the level of awareness of businesses’ CSR operations among consumers in the banking sector is low and, accordingly, that businesses should adopt more active communication strategies, target their CSR messages more effectively and educate consumers to contextualize CSR communication in order to gain benefits from their CSR initiatives (Pomering and Dolnicar, 2009). Other more recent studies seem to replicate a similar format correlating consumers’ perception of CSR activities in particular contexts and industries with, e.g. sponsor-sincerity (Scheinbaum et al., 2017), or CSR pricing with perceived CSR sacrifice by consumers (Sungsook, 2015). A study that stands out from this format adopted a more critical analytical approach to examining and discussing the effect of CSR communication on consumers and vice versa, arguing that a backlash against brands seems to be provoked by consumer criticism of CSR marketing and unsolved problems in the supply chains of large corporations, e.g. working conditions in sweatshops and downstream marketing (Smith et al., 2010). This type of study pioneers a recent emergence of critical research that challenges the use of CSR as a marketing and branding instrument without taking further notice of consumer activism, stakeholder involvement and the global context in which companies operate. Overlooking these elements is partly the result of the strong anchoring of instrumental CSR in the classical marketing paradigm (see also Crane and Glozer, 2016). This taps perfectly into a third group of studies considering the potential of promoting and branding the corporation through CSR. These studies address how specific CSR communication tactics and techniques can help to build brand citizenship and brand equity (e.g. Banytė and Gadeikienė, 2008; Demetriou and Aristotelous, 2011; Maggio-Muller and Evans, 2008). Very few of these seem to address CSR communication as a strategic issue, i.e. setting out to establish a conceptual framework for how CSR can be integrated more strategically into the marketing discipline (e.g. Maignan and Ferrell, 2004). Perception, impact and promotion studies are primarily anchored in a classical conceptualization of communication, in which instrumental measures such as “documenting” in the form of “more information about CSR” and/or “rhetorical devices” in the form of “alternative messaging and contents” are expected to result in changed stakeholder perception of the corporate image and/or CSR stance of a company. None – or very few – of the studies seem to challenge the classical behavioral pattern. Consequently, CSR communication is mostly addressed as one-way communication, i.e. as an instrumental add-on tool rather than two-way communication or invitation to community building, networking and co-creating CSR with stakeholders (Nielsen and Thomsen, 2012, p. 60), a conclusion also drawn by Crane and Glozer (2016, p. 24). Image and reputation studies, a fourth important group of studies, articulated the role of CSR communication as a means to enhance corporations’ image/reputation/relationship management potential. These studies typically emerge from public relations and corporate communication in which CSR communication is conceptualized to build, maintain and/or restore a company’s image and reputation (Benn et al., 2010; Demetriou et al., 2010; György and Oravecz, 2009; Kim and Park, 2011; Komodromos and Melanthiou, 2014; Middlemiss, 2003; Núñez Ladevéze et al., 2015; Steurer, 2010; Yong et al., 2012). Not surprisingly, these studies were particularly dominating in public relations-oriented studies. As argued by Clark, CSR and public relations have very similar objectives in that they are both basically seeking to enhance the quality of the relationship of organizations Corporate social responsibility communication 497 CCIJ 23,4 498 with their key stakeholders (Clark, 2000, p. 376). CSR communication, therefore, overlaps with public relations, i.e. in terms of playing a key role in addressing stakeholders, focusing on communicative affordances, either externally, e.g. corporate mission slogans (Verboven, 2011), media coverage of CSR (Middlemiss, 2003), public policy operations (Steurer, 2010), or internally, e.g. through employee commitment (György and Oravecz, 2009) organizational leadership (Benn et al., 2010). A fifth group of studies was approached from the similar yet opposite perspective of anticipating conflicts/avoiding bad publicity through CSR communication. The scope of this group of studies is to use CSR communication as a driver for creating trust and credibility by preempting or anticipating negative perception and conflicts, hence accomplishing the role of “issues management” (Cho and Kim, 2012; Hughes and Demetrious, 2006; Nwagbara and Brown, 2014; Waller and Conaway, 2011). Accordingly, most of the studies came up in searches with “public relations.” Specific CSR communication techniques and strategies are thus typically suggested to avoid negative CSR perception (Waller and Conaway, 2011), incongruence between perceived and desired image (Tata and Prasad, 2015), negative legitimacy (Vanhamme and Grobben, 2009; Arvidsson, 2010), PR spin (Hughes and Demetrious, 2006) or as a general buffer for negative issues (Cho and Kim, 2012). These findings allowed us to conclude so far that major issues addressed in the image and reputation studies above focus on how to protect a company’s corporate image, reputation and legitimacy against negative publicity and activism (see e.g. Lawton et al., 2013). With the rise of social media as the paramount channel for engaging consumers, partners, journalists, NGOs, etc., in CSR processes, the pressure on organizations to disclose their CSR performances is stronger than ever. As a consequence, they are also more fragile and exposed to public criticism and attack (Coombs and Holladay, 2012). The protective role that public relations (and issues management in particular) traditionally assume through scanning and monitoring the corporate environment of organizations thus seems to call for a reactivation with the growing pressure on corporations to gain corporate legitimacy from stakeholders through their CSR efforts and communication hereof. Performance studies A sixth group of studies was framed from the perspective of how companies do or can capitalize on CSR communication. They first and foremost appeared in corporate communication-oriented studies demonstrating that the use of particular strategic or tactical CSR operations has led or may lead to better CSR outcomes for the corporation and/or its stakeholders. CSR outcomes imply assets such as corporate reputation (Ferns et al., 2008; Ingenhoff and Koelling, 2012; Morsing et al., 2008), corporate identity and identification (Bravo et al., 2012; Chong, 2009; Morsing, 2006), competitive advantage (Vilanova et al., 2009), higher credibility (Gruber et al., 2017), stakeholder benefits (Bhattacharya et al., 2009; Du et al., 2010) and corporate legitimacy (Du and Vieira, 2012). A large group of these performance studies pitched into how to implement or promote stakeholder dialogue as a means of establishing stakeholder relationships in CSR processes of engagement, collaboration and participation. Stakeholder dialogue is typically introduced as a necessity for creating a foundation for public policy (Hristache et al., 2013), being successful in large-scale CSR (Konrad et al., 2008), CSR decision making and change (Muijen, 2004; O’Riordan and Fairbrass, 2008; Uysal, 2014), organizational learning (Burchell and Cook, 2008; Golob et al., 2014), translating CSR into practice (Pedersen, 2006), managing relationships with NGOs (Burchell and Cook, 2006; Valor and Merino de Diego, 2009) and for social reporting ( Jackson and Bundgard, 2002; Reynolds and Yuthas, 2008). A related group of studies focused on the perspective of stakeholder dialogue, addressed from a social media perspective, and their ability to advance and nurture stakeholder engagement, participation and empowerment (Fieseler et al., 2010; Fieseler and Fleck, 2013; Golob and Podnar, 2014; Illia et al., 2017; Nwagbara, 2013; Nwagbara and Reid, 2013), e.g. between employers and employees (Cortini, 2009; Stohl et al., 2017). The performance-oriented studies above primarily concentrate on the alignment of CSR communication to legitimacy variables such as reputation building, credibility, a competitive advantage, long lasting stakeholder relationships, employee and other stakeholder engagements, etc. (see, e.g., reviews by Chun, 2005; Heras-Saizarbitoria and Boiral, 2013; Miller et al., 2014). This research thus provides insight into important general corporate communication legitimacy drivers such as the importance of having a “CSR history,” the need to involve stakeholders, the importance of championship by senior management and of implementing credible CSR programs and communication platforms to document CSR activities (such as e.g. CSR reporting and auditing). In general, the importance of stakeholder dialogue is stressed. The fact that a company’s consciousness of communication strategies and communicative purpose, ability, willingness and interests may affect the legitimacy attributed by stakeholders to CSR initiatives. In this connection, Andriof and Waddock (2002) argued that managers play an important role in the relationships that companies have with internal and external stakeholders (p. 19). In order to gain legitimacy, managers must embody CSR values and promote and support them through their own behavior and attitude. Consequently, leadership is required at more than one level in an organization, which suggests not only top executives but also middle managers and others must fully endorse the CSR values of the organization as a prerequisite for achieving and maintaining legitimacy (see also Du et al., 2013; Nielsen and Thomsen, 2009). CSR communication conceptual and rhetorical studies A final group of studies was framed within more conceptual and rhetorical issues such as understanding CSR models and concepts (Podnar, 2008; Fassin and Van Rossem, 2009; Schultz, Castelló and Morsing, 2013; Schultz, Morsing and Castello, 2013) or particular tactics, linguistic, textual or media and discourse framings of CSR. Their focus seems to be more on communication as a generic concept and its impact on communicating about CSR. Particular focus is on contexts, e.g. the marketplace, emergent economy countries, etc. (Bendell, 2010; Dobers and Delyse, 2010; Garre-Rubio et al., 2012; Lielgaidina et al., 2012; Rajandran and Taib, 2014; Roostalu and Kooskora 2010; Ziek, 2009) or on discussing their particularities, e.g. dialogism and power relations (Brennan et al., 2013) especially media, e.g. releases (Reinig and Tilt, 2009), newsletters (Walker et al., 2010) or their successfulness in terms of readability (Abu Bakar and Ameer, 2011). See also Skard and Thorbjørnsen (2014) regarding the source effect of CSR communication on brand reputation and Fraustino and Connolly-Ahern (2015) regarding message strategies in corporate online network communication. Summing-up, our analysis shows that communicative practices anticipated by scholars for how CSR communication creates, maintains and enhances corporate legitimacy are based on multiple drivers – from perception over image and reputation to performance. However, they all share the focus on stakeholders and CSR activities, effects and outcomes aimed at obtaining their approval. In the section below, a closer look is taken at how the anticipated and extrapolated legitimacy framings are distributed with regard to established strategies of legitimation. Legitimacy forms and strategies in the CSR communication literature The literature reviewed above centers around the role of CSR communic
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