Session 19, Schultz

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CSR & Theory: Constructivist perspectives

CSR & Theory: Constructivist perspectives

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  • To summarize, management research often states a positive relation between CSR and reputation, which results in better financial performance. At the same time, the institutionalization of CSR is rationalized as strategic desire to maintain or enhance corporate reputation. CSR research in the marketing field discusses the relation between CSR and reputation especially with regard to Consumers, whereas research in Public Relations takes multiple stakeholders and media or channels of communication into account. CSR mainly as power relationship and discusses especially the political role of corporations in todays’ societies. Rooted in an objectivist tradition, its goal is to uncover the “real” agendas of corporations and depict the organization-society interface as a political arena, which is characterized by power struggles, goal conflicts and domination (Gond & Matten, 2007). The culturalist view regards CSR as a cultural product whose content, institutionalization and effect is dependent on cultural and political contexts and norms (Gond & Matten, 2007; see also Gj ø lberg, 2009; Matten & Moon, 2008). This view discusses, for example, the multiple sense making processes and narratives, which foster the institutionalization of CSR (Swanson, 1995). It analyzes on a meso-level differences in organizational culture, and on a macro-social level, the cultural and national differences, approaches and institutional components of CSR (Campbell, 2007).
  • Kent and Taylor (2002), for example, regard authenticity as centrally for the building of public relations: „Indeed, for organizations to build community relations requires commitment to conversations and relationships, genuineness and authenticity — all strengths in ethical public relations” (p. 30). In a similar vein argued also other authors (e.g., Burkart, 1994) and other academic disciplines such as philosophy (Habermas, 1981): The idea of consensual communication which directs towards responsibility, truth, truthfulness, and righteousness and contrasts to strategic communication implicitly builds on a similar epistemological model and underlies until today normative conceptualizations of organizational behaviour (e.g. Palazzo & Scherer, 2006). At latest since the 1980s, authenticity and its characteristics transparency, consistency and truthfulness are regarded as being centrally to the building of trust (Bentele & Seidenglanz, 2008), of general relations to publics (Grunig, 2006; Kent & Taylor, 2002), of commitment (Grunig et al., 2002), and finally as most efficient. A revival of these ideas can be observed in recent concepts and theories of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and related discussions on communication ethics, that institutionalized based on similar societal expectations and problems (Schultz, 2010; Schultz & Wehmeier, 2010):
  • Authentic actors have to be true or honest towards themselves ( truthfulness ), present their “self” transparent , take responsibility for their actions, and behave consistent with regard to their values and constructions (Kernis & Goldmann, 2006; see Shen & Kim, 2010, Henderson & Brookhart, 1996 )
  • Already in the beginning of the last century Cassirer developed a kind of symbolic constructivism, in which he overcame the Cartesian and Kantian distinction between subject and object by regarding both as related poles which are based on symbolic mediation. Cassirer argues, that man’s perception of the world is mediated by models, symbols and myths as anchors for their orientation (1944, 1955). Their consciousness requires the symbolic medium to realize and articulate itself.
  • Already in the beginning of the last century Cassirer developed a kind of symbolic constructivism, in which he overcame the Cartesian and Kantian distinction between subject and object by regarding both as related poles which are based on symbolic mediation. Cassirer argues, that man’s perception of the world is mediated by models, symbols and myths as anchors for their orientation (1944, 1955). Their consciousness requires the symbolic medium to realize and articulate itself. attribution “authentic” reflects not only that something is authentic, but what is based on constructions regarded as being authentic
  • Already in the beginning of the last century Cassirer developed a kind of symbolic constructivism, in which he overcame the Cartesian and Kantian distinction between subject and object by regarding both as related poles which are based on symbolic mediation. Cassirer argues, that man’s perception of the world is mediated by models, symbols and myths as anchors for their orientation (1944, 1955). Their consciousness requires the symbolic medium to realize and articulate itself. attribution “authentic” reflects not only that something is authentic, but what is based on constructions regarded as being authentic
  • Already in the beginning of the last century Cassirer developed a kind of symbolic constructivism, in which he overcame the Cartesian and Kantian distinction between subject and object by regarding both as related poles which are based on symbolic mediation. Cassirer argues, that man’s perception of the world is mediated by models, symbols and myths as anchors for their orientation (1944, 1955). Their consciousness requires the symbolic medium to realize and articulate itself. attribution “authentic” reflects not only that something is authentic, but what is based on constructions regarded as being authentic
  • Already in the beginning of the last century Cassirer developed a kind of symbolic constructivism, in which he overcame the Cartesian and Kantian distinction between subject and object by regarding both as related poles which are based on symbolic mediation. Cassirer argues, that man’s perception of the world is mediated by models, symbols and myths as anchors for their orientation (1944, 1955). Their consciousness requires the symbolic medium to realize and articulate itself. attribution “authentic” reflects not only that something is authentic, but what is based on constructions regarded as being authentic
  • Already in the beginning of the last century Cassirer developed a kind of symbolic constructivism, in which he overcame the Cartesian and Kantian distinction between subject and object by regarding both as related poles which are based on symbolic mediation. Cassirer argues, that man’s perception of the world is mediated by models, symbols and myths as anchors for their orientation (1944, 1955). Their consciousness requires the symbolic medium to realize and articulate itself. attribution “authentic” reflects not only that something is authentic, but what is based on constructions regarded as being authentic

Transcript

  • 1.
    • Friederike Schultz
    • VU University Amsterdam
    ANALYZING CSR, TRANSPARENCY, AUTHENTICITY AS MYTHOS. A non-dualistic perspective
  • 2. Outline
    • What’s going on?
    • What is said to be going on?
    • What about a descriptive perspective?
    • What about taking a non-dualistic perspective serious?
    • Conclusions
  • 3. What`s going on?
  • 4. 1. Starting Observations
    • Increasing construction of CSR, transparency & authenticity
    • … associated with accountability & controllability
    • “ the authentic enterprise“ (A. W. Page Society, 2007)
    • … & co-construction of lack of CSR, transparency & authenticity
    • “ transparency gaps”, “authenticity gaps” and “responsibility gaps”
    • distances between projected and actual corporate identities (Wicki & van der Kaalj, 2007) .
  • 5. What is said to be going on? Functionalist Corporate Communications Normative Business Ethics
  • 6. 2. Understandings in Corporate Communications (functionalist, normative)
    • Corporate Social Responsibility
    • Functionalist perspective: CSR as strategic tool to build reputation; business case
    • Political-normative perspective: CSR as political role
  • 7. 2. Understandings in Corporate Research (functionalist, normative)
    • Corporate Social Responsibility
    • Functionalist perspective: CSR as strategic tool to build reputation; business case
    • Political-normative perspective: CSR as political role
    • Authenticity & Transparency
    • Integral part of the “normative paradigm” of PR:
      • Symmetric, dialogic and transparent communication as more ethical & effective Grunig 1976, Grunig, Grunig & Dozier, 2002, see also Marsh, 2008, Gower, 2006, Botan & Hazelton, 2006
    • Authenticity regarded as centrally for building of public relations & trust
      • „ Indeed, for organizations to build community relations requires commitment to conversations and relationships, genuineness and authenticity — all strengths in ethical public relations” (Kent & Taylor, 2002, p. 30)
      • see Grunig, 2006; Kent & Taylor, 2002, Grunig et al., 2002, Bentele & Seidenglanz, 2008
    • Consensual communication in normative conceptualizations (e.g. Palazzo & Scherer, 2006)
    • Related to (Corporate) Identity
    • Corporations have distinct identity, fixed set of norms, moral & authentic personality…
    • Effects loyalty & identification of employees, increases motivation, effectiveness…
  • 8. 2. General understandings of Authenticity
    • Authenticity as umbrella-concept including transparency
    • extend, to which an actor acts in accordance with his “true self”
    • Authentic actors have to be true or honest towards themselves ( truthfulness ), present their “self” transparent , take responsibility for their actions, and behave consistent with regard to their values and constructions (Kernis & Goldmann, 2006; see Shen & Kim, 2010, Henderson & Brookhart, 1996 )
  • 9. What about a descriptive perspective? Luhmann, CCO, …
  • 10. 3. Descriptive perspective: State of the Art (Luhmann, CCO, etc.)
    • Communication as Organization of reality and as Co-orientation
      • “… as ongoing process of making sense of the circumstances in which people collectively find ourselves and of the events that affect them. […] Communication thus concerns both descriptions of existing states (the epistemic function of speech) and what to do about them (the deontic function of speech, with the focus on virtual or as yet unrealized states)” (Taylor & van Every, 2000, p. 58).
    • Image of Man: “Animal Symbolicus” (Cassirer, 1944; Schultz 2011)
      • man’s perception of the world is mediated by models, symbols, myths as anchors
      • men do not have, but live within a plurality of meanings, symbolic forms, narrations
    • Objects & Descriptions:
      • Objects are neither entities represented in language (realism) nor constructs developed through language (constructivism)
      • Objects are existent in languages, sum of developed, competing descriptions
      • Reality is directly integrated in communication (see illocutionary speech-acts, Austin, 1962)
    • Organizations & Identity
      • emerge & consist through communication (Taylor & van Every, 2000, Luhmann, 1995, 1998, 2000)
      • No distinction between subjective inner & objective outer sphere of organizations
  • 11. 3. Descriptive perspective: Conclusions
    • CSR, transparency, authenticity are…
    • communicative, situative, relational events
    • result of multiple actors’ perceptions, observations, and interactions
    • … paradox: “un-respondable communication”
    • Authenticity as precondition for autonomy and originality
    • Expectations on authenticity expect “ authentic conformity” (Schultz, 2011)
    • Results:
      • Imperative to be authentic is communication that cannot be answered
      • But leads to decoupling processes (second reality)
    • Nevertheless: It says something!
    • Re-Orientation: Analyzes Semantics, Functions & Effects.
  • 12. What about taking a non-dualistic perspective, serious? Semantics Functions Implications
  • 13. 3. Descriptive perspective: … the non-dualistic approach
    • Semantics
    • Subjectivistic meaning (originality, autonomy, break with norms) vs. objectivistic meaning (differentiation from the “normal”)
    • Refers to subjective , inner authority (subconscious) AND objective , external, timeless authority (metaphysical)
    • signalizes affirmation, whereas detailed explanations can be hidden
    • = is mythical in character
  • 14. 3. Descriptive perspective: … the non-dualistic approach
    • Functions of Communications on CSR, Authenticity, Transparency
    • F1:
    • invisibilizes structural problems and conditions in organizational and societal crises
    • expresses desires for reintegration in fragile continuums of time and space
    • = mythologization & invisibilization
    • F2:
    • With regard to identity: self-talk in uncertain environments & external expectations
    • Organizations have to keep illusion alive
    • = securing follow-up communication & adaptive building of identity & order
    • F3:
    • “ polemical concepts” that are proclaimed when legitimacy is in question
    • Means of distinction (differences, incommensurability invisibilized)
    • = differentiation, distinction, empowerment
  • 15. 3. Descriptive perspective: … the non-dualistic approach
    • Effects of Communications on CSR, Authenticity, Transparency
    • Assumption E1: Myths are getting reality:
      • Myths are filled with meaning (sensemaking)
      • Corporations are evaluated on myths
      • The non-authentic, irresponsible, intransparent as counter-myth is constructed (self-fulfilling prophecy, Merton 1948)
    • Assumption E2: Break-up of communication & delegitimization
      • De-fragmentarises identity-constructions, Amoralization
      • Breaks up communication (polegomen)
  • 16. Conclusions
  • 17. Conclusions
    • Contributes with non-dualistic perspective to descriptive views on CSR
    • worked out short comings in dominant understandings of responsibility, transparency and authenticity in functional and normative views
    • Conceptualized responsibility, transparency and authenticity as communicative events (situative , relational )
    • Paradoxies of claims (authentic conformity) and mythological character
    • Functions: distinction, mythologization and adaptive building of identity