Constructing authenticity : A qualitative study of internal CSR communication

University essay from Karlstads universitet/Fakulteten för humaniora och samhällsvetenskap (from 2013); Karlstads universitet/Fakulteten för humaniora och samhällsvetenskap (from 2013)

Abstract: The rapid increase of corporate social responsibility (CSR) has led to a large numbers of programs that have failed to meet the expectations of stakeholders (McShane & Cunningham 2012). The reason being that stakeholders are becoming more sceptical about firms true purpose for engaging in CSR activities (Arendt & Brettel 2010). It may fuel worries that firms are acting in self-interest and trying to look good instead of doing good and not acting in line with the communicated CSR (Porter and Kramer 2011). Despite this downside, a well-executed CSR can lead to an increased company attractiveness and stakeholder identification. CSR is acknowledged as one of the most important tools for companies to use for creating corporate reputation (Arendt and Brettel 2010). This thesis wants to understand and evaluate the development of CSR, given that organizations must continuously look at both the tensions between profit seeking and the conflicting demands from different stakeholder groups. Authenticity can be seen as an appropriate view or perspective since stakeholders want to know if the communicated CSR is a reflection of the organization’s true self (Harvey et al. 2006). The aim of this study is to investigate CSR as a marketing practice and to explore how authenticity is constructed in relation to internal CSR communication. By answering this aim, there will be an enhanced understanding of how authenticity can be constructed and how CSR can be communicated within organizations. A qualitative approach has been conducted for this thesis. The primary data has been collected from semi-structured interviews at Grant Thornton and the interviews consisted of eight respondents with different positions in the company. Five mechanisms have been developed, showing how the work of constructing CSR is carried out, as well as how Grant Thornton integrate CSR into the organisation. Furthermore, three features have been developed showing how authenticity can be created within organizations.

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