Digital and Traditional Tools for Communicating Corporate Social Responsibility: A Literature Review

Digital and Traditional Tools for Communicating Corporate Social Responsibility: A Literature Review

Gianpaolo Tomaselli, Monia Melia, Lalit Garg, Vipul Gupta, Peter Xuereb, Sandra Buttigieg
DOI: 10.4018/IJBDCN.2016070101
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This paper reviews the literature to understand the current state of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) communication. The authors analyze not only the importance of CSR communication for businesses but also review the literature that deals with both digital and traditional tools adopted for CSR communication. This is followed by a discussion on how today's businesses are more aware of the importance of communicating CSR to their stakeholders. Furthermore, the literature review attempts to investigate how businesses are implementing both digital and traditional tools in a complementary way for their CSR communication strategy.
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2. The Importance Of Csr Communication

According to Dawkins (2004) and Hooghiemstra (2000), the importance for businesses to communicate their own CSR activities stems from the need for transparency and visible adoption of ethical behavior, as well as to build their corporate reputation and create value. Thus, communication has a central importance for CSR, since it has become a “key issue of concern” for businesses (Capriotti & Moreno, 2007). Moreover, CSR has been recognized as a critical factor influencing corporate image, reputation and stakeholder relations (Etter, 2013).

According to Darus, Kamzah and Yusoff (2013), the general process of reporting on CSR has had an increasing development during the last decade. The study noticed that, while literature has strictly focused on traditional systems of reporting (e.g. sustainable reporting, codes of ethics, etc.), businesses, in recent years, have begun to use new tools for CSR communication. However, research on this field is still at an initial state. A corporate web site is considered as a valuable tool for the dissemination of CSR information and related activities to stakeholders. In addition to the issues and links communicated through the use of corporate web sites, businesses are increasingly using interactive technologies namely social media, social networks and mobile applications for these means of communication.

According to Arvidsson (2009), the communication issue is concerned with the identification of the typologies of CSR information that needs to be communicated, and the extent to which it should be communicated in order to satisfy stakeholders’ needs and legitimate behaviors. In this regard Ellerup, Nielsen and Thomsen (2007) argued that businesses seem to be completely unprepared for this task and identified the lack of a framework for CSR communication as a major reason.

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