Communicating Goodness - loud as a lion or silent as a mouse? : A study exploring how companies find the balance in their CSR-communication

University essay from Uppsala universitet/Företagsekonomiska institutionen; Uppsala universitet/Företagsekonomiska institutionen


Problem: Corporate social responsibility is said to result in strategic and reputational benefits, however, broadcasting it publicly has been proven to be a delicate matter. While stakeholders expect companies to engage in CSR, they do not appreciate if companies communicate their CSR-activities too loudly. Prior research instead suggests that communicating too extensively could cause skepticism from stakeholders.

Purpose: This thesis is set to investigate how companies view and handle the challenge of communicating their good deeds, in the specific context of cross-sector collaborations, and how companies balance the need to increase awareness of their social engagements with the risk of inducing skepticism.

Method: Primary data has been collected from semi-structured interviews within six case companies from different industries.

Conclusion: Our results show that skepticism per se was not perceived as a problem – one reason could be that most companies chose to avoid communicating extensively. While all companies argued for the importance of doing rather than talking, controversial companies in particular expressed an aversion towards bragging about their collaborations. A difference between controversial and neutral industries could be seen in the way they valued communication. Having the right level of communication, demonstrating authenticity by linking cross-sector collaborations to company characteristics, together with the choice of partners and communicating “through” NPOs were seen as important aspects that could help companies to find the balance. 

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