How to communicate environmental efforts for value creation : a case study from a Swedish waste contractor in a B2B setting

University essay from SLU/Dept. of Economics

Abstract: Stakeholders’ pressure and expectations regarding environmental responsibility have forced companies’ to work with Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) as an integrated part of their business strategy. Environmental responsibility is therefore valued higher than ever before and must be effectively communicated towards stakeholders’. Much research investigates in business-to-consumer (B2C) effects of CSR while there is limited research in how the business-to-business (B2B) market should implement and apply CSR. However, the pressure on companies operating in the B2B market is increasing as they are also expected to take responsibility for their actions. The objective of this study is to conduct a case study of Wiklunds, a service- and logistics company (waste contractor) focusing on waste disposal from the construction sector. This is done in order to investigate how environmental communication can fulfill clients’ needs and adding value. Moreover, the objective with this study is to offer an academic perspective of a phenomenon that is currently challenging companies in their efforts to address environmental aspects of corporate conduct. However, the audience for this thesis is not only academic persons but also industrial representatives since responsible waste management favors construction companies and the society at large. This study is delaminated to evaluate the effectiveness of environmental communication and not the effectiveness of the environmental performances as such. The empirical data consist of interviews with five of Wiklunds main clients from the construction- and property industry, and two key employees from Wiklunds. The theoretical framework consists of research in corporate values and identity, in order to evaluate how aligned a waste contractor’s environmental image and identity is with its clients’ expectations. Thereafter, is Heikkurinen (2010) framework in strategic CSR presented with the aim to create a situation were both the people, planet, and profit prospers. The final theory is mainly based on Morsning and Schultz (2006), strategic CSR communication. The empirical study shows that Wiklunds has a positive environmental image; long-term relationships indicate that the clients are satisfied. However, the awareness of Wiklunds environmental work is limited, meaning that Wiklunds environmental image and identity is not completely aligned with its clients’ perception. Up to present, Wiklunds environmental work has not been communicated fully, meaning nor its identity and what they represent, although it would benefit Wiklunds corporate reputation. The results indicate that Wiklunds image might be threatened if the company does not start to communicate its environmental work. Wiklunds clients want to collaborate with active waste contractors that help them reaching environmental goals, and therefore would Wiklunds benefit from an environmental image differentiation. Wiklunds should use a two-way symmetric communication strategy in order to improve its external environmental communication, as the interaction between Wiklunds and its clients is a key factor for successful waste management.

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