The ‘Catch 22′ of communicating CSR: Findings from a Danish Study

 

Journal of Marketing Communication vol, 14/2: 97-111

Abstract

 

This research explored the apparent ‘Catch 22’ of communicating Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Although companies are regularly encouraged to engage in CSR, they are simultaneously discouraged to communicate about this engagement. We contribute with two models that may help to explain how companies can best communicate about their CSR initiatives. Based on a reputation survey and two case studies of Danish corporate CSR frontrunners, first we develop an ‘inside‐out approach’ to suggest how managers can manage their CSR activities to achieve favourable CSR reputation in a ‘Catch 22’ context. Employees appear as a key component in building trustworthiness as CSR communication is shown to evolve when taking an ‘inside‐out approach’. Second, we develop a CSR communication model with two CSR communication processes targeting different stakeholder groups: ‘the expert CSR communication process’ and ‘the endorsed CSR communication process’. Integrating these models and processes may help companies strategically capture reputational advantage from their CSR initiatives.

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Authors: Mette Morsing, Kasper Ulf Nielsen & Majken Schultz