Corporate Sustainability/CSR Communications and Value Creation: A Marketing Approach

University essay from Blekinge Tekniska Högskola/Sektionen för Management (MAM)

Abstract: The purpose of this study is to explore the current practices in corporate sustainability/CSR communications and how this trend contributes to corporate value creation. More specifically, this study looks at this subject from the angle of how companies can use corporate sustainability/CSR communications in marketing activities to attain corporate marketing objectives. To achieve the aim of this study, an examination of the current practices in corporate sustainability /CSR communications was performed through a pertinent empirical and theoretical literature review as well as a quantitative and qualitative empirical method using a survey questionnaire. The author attempted, in the same way, to illustrate how corporate sustainability/CSR communications can strengthen corporate reputation and directly enhance financial performance. For theory, two bodies of literature (corporate communications and corporate sustainability) were selected for review in terms of the degree of synergy and integration between them and their implications for this thesis. The key findings from literature review and empirical study showed that the practices of corporate social responsibility communications occurs through CSR, Triple Bottom Line (PPP) or corporate sustainability reporting, stakeholder dialogue on sustainability issues and social and environmental communication programs. Also, the auditing and assurance of CSR reporting is carried out through different measures including internal (i.e. human resources management, CSR and/or PR department) and external (i.e. business partner, consulting or risk management firm) or both measures. It was also found that sustainability has been a part of corporate culture and strategy development for a number of organizations pursuing the sustainability path for decades. Moreover, public relations activity is ranked the most effective in communicating sustainability at corporate level and has the potential to reach a wide spectrum of stakeholder audiences. However, a level of skepticism was noticed among stakeholders towards corporate sustainability/CSR communications. Nonetheless, knowing how stakeholders perceive corporate image and what they expect in return for their support is fundamental in designing effective corporate and marketing communications strategies. Stakeholders’ relations management is the bottom line for success and sustainability of the business and lies at the core of CSR practice and its reporting. Further, the growth of corporate sustainability/CSR communications has reflected the keen interest from all stakeholders; hence, it has become a topic of major importance and also, as it was found, a key factor that experts and planners in the field should capitalize on and watch in competitive marketplaces. Furthermore, having a pro-social and environmental agenda means having a sound corporate and marketing communications strategies that can build a company’s reputational standing and create sustainable competitive advantages. The trend towards injecting sustainability into corporate decisions making and strategy development has come about through what organizations have achieved in terms of value creation pertaining to reputation and financial performance enhancement. The author’s review of the literature makes an advance on extant reviews of the literature by highlighting the importance of corporate sustainability/CSR communications in marketing with respect to corporate value maximization. Overall, this thesis endeavours to present contributions, avenues and departure of journeying for further empirical research and development.

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