Researching CSR andCommunication: Challenges and Opportunities Andrew Crane Schulich School of Business York University, Canada CSR Communication Conference, Amsterdam, Oct 2011
A conversation waiting to happen…CSR Communications Social reporting
A conversation waiting to happen…CSR Communications Social reporting Practitioners
So what’s soimportant about CSR communication…?
What happened to CSR?“Our commitment to Responsible Finance is embedded throughout the company. We put the strength of our business, products and people to work to help improve communities and the environment around the world." Pamela Flaherty, Director of Corporate Citizenship, Citigroup“The HSBC Climate Partnership is a five year, US$100m commitment to work with four leading climate NGOs and engage HSBC employees in understanding and taking action on carbon emissions." www.hsbc.com 16 of the Global 100 “Most Sustainable Corporations” (2011) are financial services firms (Corporate Knights/ Sustainalytics/Bloomberg) Finance companies are saying a lot about CSR … but almost nothing about protest, capitalism, lobbying, bail-outs, executive pay, tax, etc
Trust in business in fluxSource: Edelman 2011 Trust Barometer
Do we need: More CSR?Better communicated CSR? Or just different CSR communication?
Some different ways of thinking about CSR communicationCSR communication is about how you inform, persuade, and celebrate your CSR programsCSR program Communication Audience
Some different ways of thinking about CSR communicationCSR communication is about how you inform, persuade,and celebrate your CSR programs … and how you gather and integrate feedback into those programsCSR program Communication Audience
Some different ways of thinking about CSR communication CSR communication is about how communication facilitates the co-creation of CSR programsCSR program Communication Audience
Some different ways of thinking about CSR communication CSR communicationAudience how communication is about Audience facilitates the co-creation of CSR programsCSR program Communication Audience Audience Audience
Some different ways of thinking about CSR communicationCSR communication is about how communication is embedded into CSR programs Communication Audience CSR program
CSR integration Opportunity 1: companies are struggling with understanding how to get CSR buy-in throughout the organization Research indicates that employees are often ill-informed and poorly involved in their company’s CSR initiatives “Using Corporate Social Responsibility to Win the War for Talent” C.B. Bhattacharya, Sankar Sen and Daniel Korschun Sloan Management Review January 1, 2008
CSR interpretation Opportunity 2: CSR is a rich context (or text) to explore theories around CCO (communicative constitution of organization, see Cooren et al 2011): CSR is brought into being by communication E.g. sensemaking-sensegiving; rhetorical strategies; narrative; moralization-amoralization, etc. “Consequently, [CSR] knowledge, rules, processes, persons, markets, and even organizations themselves are the ongoing products of meaning-making practices that are always political in the sense that they could have been produced otherwise”
CSR identity Opportunity 3: No one really knows well how to successfully communicate with external stakeholders around CSR Actually we don’t even agree what “success” is From broadcasting CSR identity to accountability – designing more democratic forms of stakeholder inclusion, engagement, and reporting “A deliberative concept of CSR changes the modus of responsibility… The corporation, within the network of civil society communication, does not replace the idea of stakeholder management but enhances it and frames it in an ongoing process of observing and participating in public discourses.” Andreas Scherer and Guido Palazzo: 2007, Toward a political conception of corporate responsibility: business and society seen from a Habermasian perspective, Academy of Management Review, 32(4), 1096-1120.
CSR Truth CSR CSR Truth CSR Truth CSRTruth Truth CSR CSRTruth CSR Truth Truth
CSR image Opportunity 4: CSR is an “essentially contested” concept Discursive contestation is ongoing CSR communication implicitly defines the division of labor for responsibility among actors “There is not a pre-existing market of responsible consumers out there waiting to be served, but rather it must be brought into existence through the assumptions and technologies of market segmentation” Robert Caruana and Andrew Crane, “Constructing Consumer Responsibility: Exploring the Role of Corporate Communications” Organization Studies 2008; 29: 1495-1519
Communicating boundaries what government is responsible for… what we are what you are“what we do” responsible for responsible for what consumers are responsible for…