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Issues in Social and Environmental AccountingVol. 2, No. 2 Dec 2008/Jan 2009Pp. 176-197 Corporate Social Responsibility Issues in Media Releases: A Stakeholder Analysis of Australian Banks Christopher J. Reinig Carol A. Tilt Flinders Business School Flinders UniversityAbstractThis paper investigates Australias four major national banks, analysing the use of media re-leases in the marketing and communication of corporate social responsibility (CSR). Usingcontent analysis, the extent and nature of the media releases issued in 2006, and aimed at spe-cific stakeholders, is determined for each bank. The findings indicate that over one-third of thebanks media releases discuss CSR, predominantly communicating issues related to communityinvolvement. Furthermore, customers and communities are found to be the intended audiencesfor the majority of the CSR-related media releases.Keywords: CSR, media, banks, Australia, stakeholders, content analysisIntroduction sector in the early 1980s, the profits of Australian banks have risen substan-Society is becoming more interested in tially. However, there has also been athe social responsibility of organisations call for increased competitiveness as a(Dawkins & Lewis, 2003; Bartlett, result of deregulation, which has had2005), who in turn are more aware of dramatic effects on society, such as con-their own actions, fuelled by anti-trust siderable employee downsizing (Bartlett,laws, consumer-protection laws, and 2005). Consequently, there has been in-requirements-to-serve laws (Farmer & tense media and public scrutiny focusedHogue, 1973). Organisations communi- on the banking industry. Althoughcation of their corporate social responsi- many studies have considered CSR andbility (CSR) has received close scrutiny social reporting by banks (Enquist,from the media and activist groups, par- 2006; Schneider, 1982; Bank Marketingticularly in the banking sector. International, 2005; Do et al., 2007) most consider it as a means of respond-Since the deregulation of the banking ing to criticism, rather than as part of a strategy to proactively communicate toCorresponding author: Carol A Tilt, Professor of Accounting & Associate Dean (Research), Flinders BusinessSchool, Flinders University, Adelaide, South Australia, Email: Carol.Tilt@flinders.edu.au
C.J. Reinig, C.A. Tilt / Issues in Social and Environmental Accounting 2 (2008/2009) 176-197 177stakeholders. This paper investigates spective provided by stakeholder theoryCSR reporting in the Australian banking is considered to be most appropriate.sector, in particular, the four major na- Thus, a review of stakeholder theory istional banks are considered: Australia presented below and this section con-and New Zealand Banking Group cludes with a discussion of the strategic(ANZ), Commonwealth Bank of Austra- nature of CSR, how it is used in market-lia (CBA), National Australia Bank ing to communicate with an organisa-(NAB) and Westpac Banking Corpora- tions stakeholders, and its relevance totion (WBC). stakeholder theory.The aim of this paper is to identify towhat extent Australias four major na- Stakeholder Managementtional banks use their CSR for marketingpurposes aimed at specific stakeholders, Stakeholder theory has received muchin the context of stakeholder manage- research attention regarding the inclu-ment. The extent and nature of CSR, sion or exclusion of groups or ideasmarketed via media releases, by each of (Alkhafaji, 1989; Phillips & Reichart,the banks over the period 1 January to 2000; Radin, 1999). The theory suggests31 December 2006, is identified. The that organisations must manage theirintended audience of each media release various stakeholders individually givenis also determined, and the banks’ mar- their expectations of an organisationketing of their CSR examined in light of (Freeman, 1984). Therefore, organisa-stakeholder theory. tions operate not only in consideration of shareholders as argued by FriedmanThis paper is organised as follows: The (1970), but also in consideration of othernext sections outline the theoretical per- stakeholders such as employees, custom-spective that informs this study, and re- ers and communities (Hodgetts, 1996).views the research that has considered Shareholders supporting long-term asstakeholder theory and CSR particularly well as short-term profits cause organi-in a marketing context. Next, the re- sations to build lasting relationships withsearch methods are described, followed stakeholders, without whose support theby the findings. The subsequent section organisation would cease to exist. An-compares and contrasts the findings with soff (1965) maintains that organisationsthe views prescribed by stakeholder the- must determine the often-conflictingory. Finally, conclusions and implica- needs of its stakeholders, and managetions are presented. them in a way to satisfy as many as pos- sible, or at least the most powerful stake- holders. As noted by Farmer & HogueTheoretical Framework (1973), given the limited resources any one organisation has, this strategy ofAn organisation must consider the im- stakeholder management may often re-pact of its operations on its various sult in a trade-off between satisfyingstakeholders (Freeman, 1984). As this stakeholders. Thus the need for effectivepaper examines Australias four major communication strategies is evident, innational banks marketing of their CSR order to meet the many demands ofto various groups, the theoretical per- stakeholders (Gray et al. 1996).
178 C.J. Reinig, C.A. Tilt / Issues in Social and Environmental Accounting 2 (2008/2009) 176-197Deegan (2006) notes however, that the accomplished by assessing three vari-term stakeholder theory is used in differ- ables: power (the extent a party can im-ent contexts. Hasnas (1998, p. 26) states pose its will in a relationship); legiti-that “it is used to refer to both an empiri- macy (socially accepted and expectedcal theory of management and a norma- structures or behaviours); and urgencytive theory of business ethics, often (time sensitivity or criticality of thewithout clearly distinguishing between stakeholders claims) (Mitchell et al.the two. This study does not consider the 1997). This study attempts to identifynormative (ethical) branch of stake- those stakeholders Australias four majorholder theory, which concerns how man- national banks deem influential regard-agers should deal with corporate stake- ing the marketing of their CSR via me-holders (Berman et al. 1999). Rather, it dia releases in the year 2006.examines the positive (managerial)branch of stakeholder theory (Berman et Freeman (1984), defines stakeholderal. 1999) which involves identifying management as the need for an organisa-stakeholders of the organisation and tion to manage the relationships with itsmanaging them in a way that furthers the specific stakeholders in an action-organisations objectives. Fulop & Lin- oriented way. Organisations face a chal-stead (1999) explain that a major com- lenge to satisfy its stakeholders, depend-plication involved with each strategy ent on both the size of the organisationpursued by an organisation is the task of (with a small organisation, the expecta-fulfilling the best interests of all stake- tions of its stakeholders may not be asholders. As Gray et al. (1996) point out high as with a larger organisation), andhowever the more important the stake- the returns of the organisation (withholder to the organisation, the more ef- above-average returns, an organisationfort will be exerted by the organisation may find it easier to satisfy stakeholdersin managing the relationship. The level than when enjoying average or below-of power a stakeholder has is in part de- average returns) (Hanson & Dowling,termined by the amount of resources 2002). This study assumes the commu-controlled/owned by the stakeholder, as nication of CSR activities via media re-Wallace (1995, p. 87) points out “the leases to be a method of stakeholderhigher the group in the stakeholder hier- management.archy, the more clout they have and themore complex their requirements willbe”. Literature Review Stakeholder Management: The Busi-A major component of stakeholder the- ness Caseory considers the ability of managers toidentify their stakeholders and criticality Freeman (1984, p25) defines stake-to the organisation, allowing effective holders as “any group or individual whostakeholder management to follow. Sev- can affect or is affected by the achieve-eral authors (Mitchell et al. 1997; Han- ment of the organisations objectives”son & Dowling, 2002) have developed Examples of stakeholders include sup-methods to achieve stakeholder identifi- pliers, customers, employees, sharehold-cation. In particular, it is claimed that ers, and the local community. It has beendistinguishing between stakeholders is pointed out, however, that the broadness
C.J. Reinig, C.A. Tilt / Issues in Social and Environmental Accounting 2 (2008/2009) 176-197 179of Freemans (1984) definition could point of view, integrating CSR issueslead to the inclusion of competitors or into the discussion where possible.terrorists as stakeholders of an organisa- Deegan et al. (2000) writes:tion (Alkhafaji, 1989, p36). Therefore, Institutions that incorporate stake-Alkhafaji (1989) suggests that stake- holder expectations and commu-holders should only include those groups nity attitudes in their strategicor individuals that have a vested interest planning are likely better posi-in the survival of an organisation. tioned to address business risks and to take advantage of businessMaignan & Ferrell (2001) supports the opportunities as they arise.hypothesis that distinct stakeholdergroups perceive activities of an organi- Starik (1991) for example, examines thesation differently, therefore requiring relationship between an organisationstailored marketing efforts aimed at spe- stakeholder management and their repu-cific stakeholders. This conclusion is tation. Using Freemans (1984) method-drawn after examining and comparing ology to determine the level of stake-the views of internal employees and ex- holder management existent within anternal customers regarding the activities organisation, and responses from stake-of a French business. holders to gauge reputation status, a positive relationship is found betweenSimilarly, Whysall (2000) highlights the the two variables. Although only focus-importance of stakeholder management ing on consumer-related stakeholderby focusing on the mismanagement of groups for American inventory-ownedstakeholders. Using real-life examples electric organisations, the results of thisfrom organisations such as Hoover Co. study still have implications for theand British Gas, the problems discussed reputation of other organisations adopt-regarding specific stakeholders empha- ing similar stakeholder managementsise a need for effective stakeholder strategies. Similarly, arguments havemanagement. A major assertion of the been made in favour of an organisationsstudy is the interaction of stakeholder consideration of the environment im-groups, as opposed to their isolation proving their reputation (Dechant et al.from each other, attributable to the abil- 1994; Hart, 1995).ity of an individual or group belongingto more than one stakeholder group The majority of the literature on the ef-(Cooper, 2003). Hence the mismanage- fects of stakeholder management on or-ment of one stakeholder can potentially ganisations relates to improvements inhave widespread effects, therefore by financial performance, as evidenced byoutlining how the ineffective strategies the following studies. Berman et al.can cause problems for an organisation, (1999) examined five specific stake-the importance of stakeholder manage- holder issues (employees, productment is further supported. safety, workplace diversity, communi- ties, and the environment) with positiveIn assessing the relevant literature sur- results (that is, financial benefits for therounding the concept of stakeholders, it organisation when adopting stakeholderis necessary to discuss the benefits of management strategies). Employees assuch a strategy from an organisations stakeholders are regarded as a valuable
180 C.J. Reinig, C.A. Tilt / Issues in Social and Environmental Accounting 2 (2008/2009) 176-197source of competitive advantage organisation to which the strategy origi-(Berman et al. 1999). Similarly, nates. Their study found that higher lev-Huselids (1995) study of a cross-section els of stakeholder management mayof organisations examined the effects of have a negative impact on CEO salaries.human resource management policies That is, the salaries, bonuses, and com-and practices (aimed at employees) on pensation all decrease with higher levelsfinancial performance. The financial of stakeholder management. Mostly,benefits associated with the effective however, the empirical research re-management of this stakeholder group, viewed is supportive of a stakeholderpossibly more straightforward than oth- management strategy from a businessers, are attributed to lower turnover, case perspective.lower absenteeism, and improved pro-ductivity (Huselid, 1995). CSR and the Banking IndustryAffecting multiple stakeholder groups,in particular employees and customers, Specific to the banking sector of the fi-is the level of diversity an organisation nancial services industry, Stableinsemploys in their workforce (Berman et (1986) study details a case in favour ofal. 1999). Visible efforts to recruit and organisations adopting CSR strategies.retain the best people regardless of race, This is attributed to the need for an im-ethnicity, or gender, may improve an proved reputation in the sector, damagedorganisations ability to relate to a broad by fierce competition as a result of de-customer base (Thomas & Ely, 1996), regulation (and although Stableinsand reduce employee turnover or absen- (1986) study originates from the U.S.A.,teeism resulting from disgruntled em- similar deregulation in the Australianployees (Hart, 1995). Integrating CSR banking sector enables comparisons tointo a stakeholder management strategy, be made).Robinson & Dechant (1997) explain thegeneral tendency of management to ex- Peterson & Hermans (2004) present ahibit reluctance in their training and de- longitudinal study on the CSR issuesvelopment of women and minorities. prevalent in the marketing of U.S. banks, using content analysis to examineAlthough product safety may not appear television commercials. Conducted toto be a CSR issue relevant to this study determine the range of stakeholders atof banks, when adapted to the financial whom the marketing is aimed, the studyservices industry it can represent secu- also seeks to determine if the increase inrity, such as for ATMs or Internet bank- public awareness of CSR issues resultsing. When appropriate strategies are im- in an increase in CSR marketed by theplemented considering the wellbeing of banks. Consequently, resulting from thiscustomers, increased sales are the likely research is the apparent increase in CSRresult (Waddock & Graves, 1997). communicated to stakeholders via televi- sion commercials.Taking a different approach, a study byCoombs & Gilley (2005) examine the Margret & Tran (2007) examine attrib-relationship between stakeholder man- utes of corporate social reporting in Aus-agement and salaries of CEOs from the tralias four major national banks as a
C.J. Reinig, C.A. Tilt / Issues in Social and Environmental Accounting 2 (2008/2009) 176-197 181reaction to new legislation. Accordingly, share prices yields positive resultsbanks are required to disclose their envi- (although their study is not about CSR).ronmental, social and ethical standards In recognition of a change in public atti-in investment decisions. However, the tudes, managers are required to evaluateresults discover no increase in CSR how to communicate their actions for awithin the banks, therefore the legisla- range of stakeholders. It has been showntion has no impact on the level of CSR that the public is generally accepting ofengaged in by the banks. In this study, an organisations communication of theirthe proactive communication of CSR via CSR for marketing purposes (i.e. to en-media releases is considered rather than hance profitability) (Dawkins & Lewis,CSR as a result of forcible legislation. 2003). However, this still needs to be communicated in an effective manner soBartlett (2005) adopted a perspective as not to explicitly contradict thesimilar to most literature reviewed, charitable view of CSR. As detailed bywhereby legitimacy theory is considered Swift (2001), due to an increase in socialin the research of CSR. Again, CSR re- and ethical auditing, a rise in the com-porting is analysed as a response to me- munication of CSR is evident in organ-dia coverage, rather than as a proactive isational documents (such as media re-communication strategy. The study leases). Such is the case with Belgiumshows that the organisations comprising bank KBC which, in accordance with athe Australian banking sector respond to growth in importance of CSR particu-similar concerns in different ways, ulti- larly in the financial services industry,mately affecting reputation rankings of recognised the need to demonstrate itsthe individual organisations. Therefore CSR achievements (Bank Marketingthe implications of Bartletts (2005) International, 2005).study for this paper is the suggestion thateach of Australias four major national Research on the communication of CSRbanks communicate CSR at different appears to be conducted primarily inlevels, on different issues. reaction to events that brought the indus- try or organisation into the public spot- light (Deegan et al. 2000). One suchCommunication of CSR to Stake- study on Australias four major nationalholders banks looks at the relationship between the organisations CSR reporting as aDaniels & Spiker (1991) encourage or- response to legitimacy concerns, andganisations to focus on stakeholders in their reputations (Bartlett, 2005). Irwintheir communication strategies. Among & Mores (1994) research looks at theother factors, this is particularly the case possibility of stakeholders to be affectedin the area of establishing a desirable by communication intended for anotherorganisational image in the public mind group. In particular, with an organisa-(Daniels & Spiker, 1991). Higgins & tions communication of CSR to employ-Bannister (1992) show the financial ees conducted internally, external com-benefits associated with communication munication (such as that found in mediastrategies. In their study, analysing both releases) is thought to have a potentiallythe level of communication that organi- minor impact on employees.sations aim at stakeholders and relative
182 C.J. Reinig, C.A. Tilt / Issues in Social and Environmental Accounting 2 (2008/2009) 176-197Whysall (2005) considers media re- gate Australias four major nationalleases. Specifically, the study seeks to banks communication of their CSR inincrease understanding on the role, con- light of stakeholder theory. Media re-tent and effectiveness of supermarkets leases are a major source of informationmedia releases. Whysall (2005) finds aimed at stakeholders, being a popularthat media releases generally attract lim- feature of organisations Websitesited attention from the audiences tar- (Cooper, 2003). Despite the importancegeted. Furthermore, examination of me- placed on the Internet as a communica-dia releases from supermarkets leads to tion tool, research indicates that thethe conclusion that there is a need to number of studies considering this isresearch the content and function of me- limited (Tomasello, 2001). The majoritydia releases in sectors where stakeholder of studies considering stakeholder man-relations are important. agement via communication strategies do not consider media releases. Rather,Finally, Coopers (2003) study centres as with Bartletts (2005) study, analysison the Internet as the medium used for of annual reports, social impact reportscommunicating with stakeholders. Coo- and policy statements predominates.per (2003) highlights the potential for anindividual or group to have multiple"stakes" in an organisation given the Sample Selectionresults of the analysis. This conclusion isachieved by examining the relationships The sample comprises the four majorformed between various stakeholder national banks in Australia for the yeargroups and the organisations. It is dis- 2006. The financial services industry iscovered that employees and managers regularly under criticism regarding CSR.receive less attention via the Internet due This focus of attention on the industryto the tendency of organisations manag- could be attributed to the ability of theers and marketers to communicate to organisations comprising this industry totheir employees via internal means. affect the operational activities and out-Similarly, customers do not receive sig- comes of a variety of organisationsnificant attention due to the structure of across diverse industries (Margret &the electricity industry, with many or- Tran, 2007). Supporting the purposiveganisations in this industry not dealing selection of Australias four major banksdirectly with end-customers. as the sample for consideration in this study, Farmer & Hogue (1973, p. 5) re-This study considers media releases as a port on the expectations of society to-form of communication of CSR issues wards large organisations:and attempts to link them to particular Most people do not expect smallerstakeholder groups. The method for this firms to do much toward carryinganalysis is presented next. costs of anti-pollution campaigns, to contribute heavily to educa- tional funds, or to lead businessesResearch Method in working toward similar socially desirable goals.This is an exploratory case study inwhich media releases are used to investi- Therefore the choice of selecting sample
C.J. Reinig, C.A. Tilt / Issues in Social and Environmental Accounting 2 (2008/2009) 176-197 183for analysis is attributable to both the content analysis can be used to:relevance of CSR to the financial ser- • identify the intentions of the commu-vices industry and the higher expecta- nicatortions from society towards CSR in these • describe trends in communicationlarger organisations. A limitation of this contentnon-probability sampling design, how- • reveal the focus of individual, group,ever, is the inability of the results to be institutional, or societal attentiongeneralised to a population (Cavana etal. 2001). Content analysis has been described as: A technique for gathering dataEvery media release for the year 2006 that consists of codifying qualita-was obtained through each banks Inter- tive information in anecdotal andnet site. There were 79 media releases literary form into categories infrom ANZ; 99 media releases from order to derive quantitative scalesCBA; 48 media releases from NAB, of varying levels of complexityand; 89 media releases from WBC (a (Abbott & Monsen, 1979 p504).total of 315) for the period of analysis.Only ANZs Website has a separate link Consistent with this description, contentfor media releases solely on CSR-related analysis is useful for identifying themesissues. Of the 28 media releases in in the raw data (Cavana et al. 2001).ANZ’s link specifically for their CSR- With the objective of determining therelated media releases, 26 are considered existence of stakeholder managementin this study as two were not accessible via media releases, each media releasedue to a broken link. was read and classified into one of the identified themes (see below). The re-All media releases were considered and lease was then read in detail to deter-judged according to the coding rules (see mine the stakeholders at whom the me-below). That is, each media release is dia release is aimed. This classificationanalysed to determine if it discusses any method is, like most content analysis,of the CSR issues listed in Table 1, and quite subjective, therefore, specific cod-the stakeholder at whom these media ing rules were prepared for analysis ofreleases are aimed was determined. the media releases, including definitionsEvery media release was thoroughly as- for each theme, treatment of multiplesessed to determine if it discussed more themes, treatment of headings, etc. Athan one CSR issue, or if it was aimed at sample of releases was then re-coded bymore than one stakeholder. a second coder and the results reviewed. The specific CSR themes used wereCoding and Analysis adapted from existing literature. Hodgetts & Kuratkos (1991) study listsIn order to measure the extent and nature general CSR issues that organisationsof CSR in the media releases, content must deal with in contemporary society.analysis is used. Weber (1985) points The themes used are presented in Tableout several purposes of content analysis, 1. The coding sheet and rules are derivedall dependent on the objectives of the from Riffe et al. (2005). Multi-case cod-research. Relevant to this study is that ing sheets were used for the analysis, as
184 C.J. Reinig, C.A. Tilt / Issues in Social and Environmental Accounting 2 (2008/2009) 176-197these are useful when there are a large Communities; and Other. These are thenumber of cases (in this study, the cases most commonly identified stakeholdersare the individual media releases) (Riffe for CSR disclosure (Estes, 1976; Oganet al., 2005). The stakeholders as identi- & Ziebart, 1991; Tilt, 1997; 2007), butfied by Donaldson & Lorsch (1983) are the ‘other’ category was included toadapted for use in this study and include identify any stakeholders specific to theShareholders; Employees; Customers; organisations under study. Table 1 CSR Themes Used in AnalysisEnvironment: pollution control; restoration or protection of environment;Energy: conservation of energy in production and marketing operations;Fair Business Practices: employment and advancement of women and minorities; support forminority owned business;Human Resources: employee training and development;Community Involvement: donations of cash, products, services or employee time; sponsorshipof public health projects; support of education and the arts; support of community recreationprograms; cooperation in community projects;Products: enhancement of security; environmental/ social improvements of a product. overlapping nature is another limitation.As an example of how media releases This study however, is exploratory inwere coded, the release entitled nature as the area of CSR marketing to‘Commonwealth Bank activates emer- stakeholders has not been researchedgency package to help cyclone vic- previously to any great extent.tims’ (Commonwealth Bank of Austra-lia, 20th March 2006) totaled 282 words.On reading this example it was assigned Resultsvarious codes in the coding sheet CSR Themes in Media Releases(spreadsheet) as it was identified as be-ing CSR-related, then coded for The media releases from Australias fourcommunity involvement (donations of major national banks are slightly differ-cash, products, services or employee ent in their presentation on the websites.time), and for each stakeholder men- Australia and New Zealand Bankingtioned in the report directly (customers Group’s (ANZ) site has two separateand local farmers). links for their media releases in 2006: one titled ANZ 2006 Media ReleasesSome media releases did not mention a and one titled ANZ 2006 Corporate Re-stakeholder directly, and in these cases sponsibility Media Releases. The otherthey were read in their entirety and a banks do not distinguish between CSR-subjective decision made as to which related and non-CSR-related media re-stakeholders, if any, were the intended leases. National Australia Bank’s (NAB)audience. Such subjectivity is inherent in site for its media releases in 2006 is ti-content analysis, and is acknowledged as tled Media Releases/ASX Announce-a limitation. Similarly, stakeholder cate- ments, incorporating information on thegories are not entirely discrete, so their Australian Stock Exchange aimed at
C.J. Reinig, C.A. Tilt / Issues in Social and Environmental Accounting 2 (2008/2009) 176-197 185both current and potential investors. municate one CSR theme (23 media re-Westpac Banking Corporation (WBC) leases are found to discuss two CSR is-and Commonwealth Bank of Australia sues). This conclusion is supported by(CBA) both title the link for their media the tendency for all banks to occasion-releases in 2006 simply Media Re- ally publish several media releases perleases. day. Figure 1 shows the number of me- dia releases issued by each bank in 2006,The ease associated with accessing the and the corresponding number of mediamedia releases is interesting given an releases involving CSR. 117 media re-aim of this study is to determine the leases out of a total of 315 discuss CSRlevel of attention given to different (approximately 37%) highlighting thestakeholders. On the homepage of ANZ, significance of CSR in the banking sec-CBA, or WBC, media releases are found tor of the financial services industry.by clicking on either the about us,glossary, or info links, respectively. Figure 1 shows that NAB does not com-This presents a link to the Media Cen- municate via media releases as much astre, which exists in all four bank web- the other banks, with only 48 releases,sites. NAB is the only bank for which but their CSR-related media releasesthe Media Centre is accessible directly amounted to 41% of these, the secondfrom the Homepage. However, all of the highest proportion. The type andbanks Websites feature a Search func- amount of CSR discussed in the mediation accessible from any of their Web- releases, is presented for each of thesites. The usability of websites is an in- banks in Table 2, noting that 23 mediateresting area for future research; see releases communicate more than 1 CSRTilt et al. (2008). theme, resulting in a higher number of CSR issues discussed than the total num-It is evident that CSR is a significant ber of CSR-related media releases. Eachissue reported upon in the media releases sub-category is considered in detail inof Australias four major national banks. the following sections.The majority of the media releases com- N umbe r o f M e dia R e le a s e s Fo cus ing o n C S R 120 99 89 100 # of Media Releases 79 80 48 T ota l 60 C S R -R e la te d 40 20 34 33 20 30 0 AN Z C BA N AB W BC Ban k s Figure 1 Number of Media Releases Focusing on CSR
186 C.J. Reinig, C.A. Tilt / Issues in Social and Environmental Accounting 2 (2008/2009) 176-197 Table 2 Type and Amount of CSR in Media Releases ANZ CBA NAB WBC TotalEnvironment 2 - - 4 6Energy 1 - - 1 2Fair Business Practices 2 1 1 3 7Human Resources 2 1 - 1 4Community Involvement 33 32 18 22 105Products 4 4 4 6 18Total 44 38 23 37 142Community Involvement this issue in their media releases moreTable 2 shows that media releases focus- often than they discuss donations.ing on community involvement are themost common. Community-related is- Energysues are discussed in the media releases Table 2 shows that only two media re-approximately 74% of the time in rela- leases communicate an energy-relatedtion to total CSR themes. The majority issue for the year 2006 (less than 2% ofof these community-related media re- the attention in relation to the other CSRleases involve donations of cash, prod- themes). For example, ANZs energy-ucts, services, or employee time. The related media release titled ANZ devel-most popular form of community in- ops Australias largest office building involvement concerns assistance to those Melbourne (Australia and New Zealandaffected by a natural disaster, however, Banking Group, 27th September 2006),WBC appears to aim these media re- discusses the various energy-efficientleases solely to its customers, never dis- measures incorporated into ANZs new-cussing any initiatives involving the do- est office building. It is now worth not-nation of cash to communities affected ing that ANZs media releases are foundby a natural disaster. This could be be- to communicate the widest range of is-cause they did not donate to those com- sues to its stakeholders, regarding CSR.munities indicating that customers are A reason for the lack of energy-relatedgiven higher priority. The other banks media releases is possibly the nature ofaim these media releases towards both the banking sector. More specifically,customers and communities, often do- the intangibility of banks products, andnating cash to those that are not neces- the minimal amount of energy requiredsarily customers. for a banks operations, allows little op- portunity to implement energy-savingA significant portion of the media re- initiatives.leases focusing on community involve-ment relate to the support of education Environmentor the arts, with all banks communicat- Only ANZ and WBC issued CSR-ing this issue in their media releases. related media releases involving the en-Interestingly, CBA is the only bank con- vironment to stakeholders in 2006. CSRsidered in this study that communicates issues relating to the environment are
C.J. Reinig, C.A. Tilt / Issues in Social and Environmental Accounting 2 (2008/2009) 176-197 187discussed approximately 4% of the time promotion of a product designed to havein relation to the other CSR themes. In a positive environmental or social im-particular, these media releases discuss pact. For example, WBCs media releaseeither a commitment to the restoration or titled Westpac enhances Internet Bank-protection of the environment, or pollu- ing security (Westpac Banking Corpora-tion control. For example, WBC (being tion, 13th February 2006) discusses en-the bank using media releases to com- hanced security provided for onlinemunicate environmental issues to its banking.stakeholders more than any other ofAustralias major national banks), in themedia release titled Westpac extends Stakeholder Analysis of Media Re-highly successful paper saving initia- leasestive (Westpac Banking Corporation, 8thAugust 2006), discusses the extension of It is evident that each of Australias fourtheir e-statement strategy aimed at sav- major national banks tailors its mediaing paper. Again, issues involving the efforts, at least regarding CSR, to eachenvironment may not be communicated of its stakeholders. Furthermore, the re-to a great extent in media releases given sults indicate that the banks focus onthe tendency of the banks to use other similar issues, highlighting a trend in themeans, such as environmental reports. banking sector.Fair Business Practices and Human As discussed earlier, Freeman (1984)Resources describes stakeholder management asTable 2 shows that media releases in- the need for an organisation to managevolving the banks fair business practices the relationships with its specific stake-and human resources (HR) are rare - holders in an action-oriented way. Anapproximately 5% in relation to the objective of this study is to determineother CSR themes for Fair Business and those stakeholders at whom the CSR-3% for HR. A possible reason for the related media releases from Australiaslack of media releases in these areas is four major national banks are aimed.that they are aimed at employees and Figure 2 (see the next page) shows theorganisations may use other means to stakeholders considered by Australiascommunicate to its employees (for ex- four major national banks and the num-ample an Intranet or staff notice board). ber of media releases aimed at each.Products Just as there are 23 media releases com-Out of all media releases products re- municating more than one CSR theme tolated to CSR are given approximately stakeholders, there are 25 media releases12% of the attention in relation to the aimed at more than one stakeholderother CSR themes, and exist for all of group, resulting in totals greater thanthe banks. Given the nature of the bank- 100%. Table 3 shows the percentage ofing sector, improvements in services media releases aimed at each stake-such as Internet banking, and security holder group by theme. For example,upgrades at ATMs, are included in this 100% of the media releases discussingsection. Specifically, these media re- fair business practices are aimed at cus-leases discuss the introduction or the tomers, 42.9% of these media releases
188 C.J. Reinig, C.A. Tilt / Issues in Social and Environmental Accounting 2 (2008/2009) 176-197 Stakeholders Targeted in Media Releases 90 83 80 73 70 # CSR Media Releases 60 50 40 30 20 13 7 10 0 0 Shareholders Emp loy ees Customers Communities Other Stakeholders Figure 2 Stakeholders Targeted in CSR Media Releases Table 3 Percentage of Media Releases Aimed at Stakeholders by Theme Shareholders Employees Customers CommunitiesEnvironment - 16.7% 100% 33.3%Energy 50% 50% 50% 50%Fair Business Practices - 42.9% 100% 42.9%Human Resources 25% 100% 75% 50%Community Involvement 2.7% 3.8% 46.7% 59%Products 11.1% - 94.4% 16.7%are aimed at employees, and 42.9% of releases detailing the efforts of an or-these media releases are aimed at com- ganisation to reduce waste (or somemunities. other cost-saving method) appear to sup- port this. For example, the media releaseShareholders from WBC titled Westpac extendsFigure 2 shows that shareholders are one highly successful paper saving initia-of the stakeholder groups considered in tive (Westpac Banking Corporation, 8ththe CSR-related media releases from August 2006) details a CSR initiativeAustralias four major national banks in resulting in cost savings.2006, albeit rarely. Cooper (2003) con-cludes that the majority of environment- Although it is traditionally thought thatrelated communication is aimed at shareholders are an organisations mostshareholders and in this study media important stakeholder group, the results
C.J. Reinig, C.A. Tilt / Issues in Social and Environmental Accounting 2 (2008/2009) 176-197 189from this study conclude that, regarding potential future employees. This sup-the communication of CSR via media ports the research finding that employ-releases shareholders are not considered ees would prefer to work for an organi-the most important stakeholder group. sation promoting their growth, or at leastThis supports Dawkins & Lewis (2003) would be less likely to leave the com-who also show that the importance of pany (Huselid, 1995). Dawkins &CSR to the investment community Lewis (2003) argue that it is in the best(shareholders) is lower than other stake- interests of an organisation to communi-holder groups. cate their CSR towards its employees, given the importance of employee advo-Employees cacy on other stakeholders. Although theHuselid (1995) examined the effects of results of this study suggest Australiashuman resource management policies four major national banks do not do thisand practices on financial performance. via media releases, but rather use inter-The financial benefits associated with nal methods to communicate with themthe effective management of this stake- (such as an Intranet or staff noticeholder group, possibly more straightfor- boards).ward than others, are attributed to lowerturnover, lower absenteeism, and im- Customersproved productivity (Huselid, 1995). Customers are a major focus of Austra-Therefore research informs us that it is lias four major national banks’ mediain the best interests of an organisation to releases. One CSR issue discussed by allnot only engage in workplace diversity, the banks in their media releases is thebut to communicate this to employees. enhancement of security, such as at ATMs and Internet banking. These CSRSpecific to this study, media releases issues are aimed at both current and po-discussing the advancement of women tential customers. Clearly, customersor minorities are issues and are aimed at prefer to ensure their wealth is kept asboth current and potential employees. secure as possible. It is again appropriateFurthermore, the level of diversity an to point out the potential for a person ororganisation employs in their workforce group to have multiple "stakes" in anis also found in the releases, and is organisation (Cooper, 2003), however inaimed at employees (Berman et al. a different manner. For example, it is1999). As discussed earlier, an organisa- logical to assume that a considerabletions visible efforts to recruit and retain number of an organisations employeespeople regardless of race, ethnicity, or are also customers. To eliminate confu-gender, may reduce employee turnover sion, this sub-section only considersor absenteeism resulting from disgrun- those stakeholders as customers, regard-tled employees (Hart, 1995). Therefore less of the other stakeholder groups tomarketing these CSR issues to employ- whom they belong.ees is intended to have a positive impacton the organisation and its employees. Furthermore, incorporating environ- mental aspects in a product is oftenSimilarly, media releases discussing em- aimed at customers. This is understand-ployee training or development are able given the growing trend for custom-aimed at both current employees and ers to consider the environmental impact
190 C.J. Reinig, C.A. Tilt / Issues in Social and Environmental Accounting 2 (2008/2009) 176-197of their purchasing (Dawkins & Lewis, own reputation when marketed in con-2003). Therefore research supports the junction with a well-known event oridea that those organisations marketing cause (Dechant et al. 1994; Hart, 1995).products that have a positive impact on Therefore, shareholders supporting long-the environment are more likely to at- term as well as short-term profits aretract new customers and retain existing supportive of investments in communitycustomers. It is thus in the best interests issues such as sporting events, positivelyof Australias four major national banks affecting their own long-term wealthto create environmentally friendly prod- (Donaldson & Lorsch, 1983).ucts and market them towards custom-ers. Gray et al. (1996) point out that the more important the stakeholder to theThe finding that customers are given the organisation, the more effort will be ex-most attention regarding the banks mar- erted by the organisation in managingketing of CSR via media releases in the the relationship. Given the results of thisyear 2006 has implications stemming study it would appear that, regarding thefrom the work of Mitchell et al. (1997). communication of CSR via media re-To recall, their study details a method leases, communities are considered onefor stakeholder identification, in particu- of the most important stakeholders. Thislar the ability to distinguish between is true for each of Australias four majorstakeholders by assessing three vari- national banks, each focusing their CSR-ables: power; legitimacy; and urgency. related releases to communities (andGiven the results of this study, it is evi- customers). A reason presented in adent that, relative to shareholders and study by Waddock & Graves (1997) thatemployees, customers are critical re- supports an organisations improvementgarding the marketing of CSR via media of community relations is the potentialreleases in the year 2006. The trend for savings experienced in the form of taxall banks to aim the majority of their advantages.marketing of CSR towards customersreinforces this assertion. Given the extent to which communities and customers are focused on in theCommunities banks CSR-related media releases rela-Communities are the intended audience tive to other stakeholders, it could beof the banks media releases almost as thought that these two stakeholdermuch as customers. A reason for Austra- groups drive the CSR strategies adoptedlias banks to aim their CSR-related me- by the banks. That is, CSR initiatives aredia releases at communities is the wide stakeholder-driven rather than simplyrange of people that may be included in marketed to suit the current strategies.this stakeholder group. For example, This finding not only has important im-customers may find themselves affected plications for the marketing strategies ofby a community issue supported by an the banks, but also for stakeholders. Theorganisation. Furthermore, by being at- extent to which a stakeholder group cantached to a well-known event or cause, impose its will in a relationship with anorganisations in turn gain their own pub- organisation may influence the strategieslicity. More specifically, organisations adopted by that organisation.experience a positive impact on their
C.J. Reinig, C.A. Tilt / Issues in Social and Environmental Accounting 2 (2008/2009) 176-197 191Discussion and Conclusions CSR-related media releases, consistent with stakeholder management. By aim-Despite the abundance of literature ing them at specific stakeholders, theavailable on CSR in marketing and CSR banks successfully differentiate betweenreporting, few studies consider an or- their intended audiences.ganisations use of media releases tocommunicate to stakeholders. This paper According to stakeholder theory organi-presents a case study on the Australian sations will attempt to balance the com-banking sector, examining the media peting and often conflicting interests ofreleases from 2006 from Australias four its stakeholders. The findings of thismajor national banks, to determine the study reveal that shareholders and em-extent and nature of CSR aimed at spe- ployees receive some attention, howevercific stakeholders. The study found a it is customers and communities attrend in both the CSR issues communi- whom most of the CSR-related mediacated via media releases from each of releases are aimed. By determining theAustralias four major national banks extent of CSR aimed at specific stake-and the level of attention given to each holders, this study aims to highlight anstakeholder group. The media releases organisations recognition of the growingfocus primarily on community involve- importance of social and environmentalment relative to the other CSR themes issues in contemporary society. For theand are aimed primarily towards cus- Australian national banking sector, overtomers and communities. one-third of all media releases from the year 2006 discuss CSR. Furthermore,Friedman (1970) argues that CSR takes the banks media releases discuss com-away from the profits of shareholders, munity initiatives as they relate to CSRwith increases in share-price being an considerably more than any other CSRorganisations sole responsibility. In re- issue.cent times however, the responsibilities The organisational strategy of stake-of organisations have extended relative holder management, consistent withto the impact of their operations on soci- views prescribed by stakeholder theory,ety. Accordingly, stakeholder theory asserts that organisations must determineprescribes that an organisation must con- the needs of their various stakeholderssider a wide range of interests to achieve and attempt to satisfy the claims of thoseits own objectives and ensure the sur- most powerful. Reasons for possiblevival of the organisation (Freeman, trends in the data are proposed in light of1984). It is thought that the managerial stakeholder theory: (1) given the con-(positive) branch of stakeholder theory flicting views of profit-maximisationis most relevant to this study, given it and CSR organisations may be lessseeks to examine Australias four major likely to market their CSR initiatives tonational banks communication of their shareholders; (2) employees are found toCSR to various groups. This is consis- rarely be the target for the banks CSRtent with the view that CSR serves a marketing, possibly due to the tendencywider community (Freeman, 1984). The for organisations to use internal meansresults of this study suggest that Austra- to communicate to this stakeholderlias four major national banks consider a group; (3), the satisfaction of customerswide range of interests in their use of is important in any organisation, and the
192 C.J. Reinig, C.A. Tilt / Issues in Social and Environmental Accounting 2 (2008/2009) 176-197satisfaction of this stakeholder group is Limitationsimportant for increased sales; (4) theamount of attention given to communi- No methodology existed prior to thisties as a stakeholder group in the CSR- study for determining the stakeholdersrelated media releases is attributed to the being targeted by corporate communica-wide range of stakeholders potentially tions. Therefore, a subjective approachaffected by such communication. using content analysis was applied. Fur- thermore, media releases are analysed as a means of communicating CSR toImplications stakeholders, excluding other means such as television, radio, and annual re-The results of this study suggest that ports. As these are also popular sourcesstakeholder management is a strategy of advertising, this study may not com-adopted by the banks regarding the com- prehensively represent the marketingmunication of CSR via media releases. efforts of the banks.The implementation of effective com-munication strategies is important whenconsidered in light of results from the Further researchresearch of Dawkins & Lewis (2003),suggesting only 36% of people are able Similar to the study by Peterson & Her-to recall any examples of an organisation mans (2004) this study could be con-helping society or the community, there- ducted in a longitudinal form to see iffore the results of this study have impli- there has been a significant change incations for our understanding of the use the marketing of CSR relative toof CSR in a marketing context changes in societal attitudes. This would provide insight into possible changingThe findings indicate community in- stakeholder attitudes and associated or-volvement is communicated to stake- ganisational strategies. Furthermore,holders considerably more than any Schneider (1982) outlines the potentialother CSR theme and customers and benefits arising from measuring onescommunities are the target of most CSR- own performance, specifically when ap-related media releases. All four banks plied to an organisations CSR. Schnei-appear to use the same strategies how- der (1982) claims banks can benefit byever, so there is little to differentiate assessing the repercussions of the CSRthem. strategies they have implemented. Fur- ther research could analyse the repercus-Emphasising this need for marketing sions of the CSR aimed at specific stake-research, Maignan & Ferrells (2001) holders in conjunction with the organisa-found stakeholder groups perceive the tions marketing via print media or other-activities of an organisation differently, wise, to assist in the implementation oftherefore requiring tailored marketing effective CSR strategies. Finally, Uner-efforts. The results of this study support man & Bennett (2004) argue that organi-the increase in marketing of CSR aimed sations should respond to the needs ofat specific stakeholders, or the marketing those stakeholders with whom they en-of CSR via other media. gage with as opposed to solely those stakeholders owning or controlling re-
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