Corporate Social Responsibility

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Theoretical Framework

The theoretical framework deals firstly with a section explaining the selection of the framework, the phenomenon of place branding and CSR. Furthermore, a communication model within place branding is presented. The chapter ends with a description of the Swedish public sector and regulations, lastly stakeholders within the public sector. The framework in this study has been critically reviewed to make sure that the theories relate to each other and are suitable for this study. The different concepts used within this study have been evaluated and compared to make sure it is applicable and appropriate for the purpose. The theoretical framework has five components (i) Place Branding, (ii) CSR, (iii) City Image Communication, (iv) Public Sector and Swedish Regulations, lastly (v) Stakeholders. Place branding is the basis of this study, because the purpose is to explore how municipalities can use it when marketing their CSR-activities. There are many terminologies similar to place branding, for instance destination branding and city branding. Graham Hankinson (2015) is regarded as one of the most prominent researchers within the place branding field. He defines place branding as a promotion tool to communicate a municipality’s image to attract visitors and to develop its infrastructure as well as economic growth. Destination branding and city branding, on the other hand, mainly focus on how to increase the tourist trade (Hankinson 2009; Maheshwari, 2011; Dinnie, 2011). In regards to the above, this study chose to focus on Hankinson’s perspective on place branding. CSR is also included in this framework, because it is highly relevant to this study. The concept of CSR can be interpreted differently. Research has indicated that there are more than 37 definitions of CSR (Dahlsrud, 2008). The study regarded CSR from Elkington’s (1999) perspective, CSR as a triple bottom line (TBL). The triple bottom line regards CSR from environmental, social and economic aspects. This study chose to use the definition of CSR as the triple bottom line, because it covers all three aspects that a municipality in Sweden tends to work with. City image communication model, developed by Michalis Kavaratzis (2004), is included in the framework. This model offers extensive knowledge in the research field of place branding and elevated the analysis. It shows how place branding interacts with municipalities through communication. Since communication is an important aspect to reach the purpose, it is highly relevant to use a communication model with elements of place branding as a foundation for the analysis. A large part of the municipal work in Sweden is CSR oriented. Therefore, this model is more applicable than a communication model that does not implicate place branding. Public sector and regulations in Sweden are part of the framework because the study is delimited to Swedish municipalities. Hence, understanding how the system work in Sweden is vital. Municipalities in Sweden are ruled under certain regulations and it is natural and expected that municipalities work with CSR. Therefore, it becomes important to evaluate if municipalities go beyond these rules and communicate other issues than those decided by the government. Stakeholders is the last chapter within this framework, as the purpose focus on which target groups municipalities communicate with. It therefore becomes important to identify the stakeholders.

Place Branding

In an increasingly globalised world, municipalities have to a greater extent adopted place branding in their marketing strategy to distinguish themselves from other places (Kavaratzis, 2009; Anholt, 2010; Ashworth et al., 2015; Hankinson, 2015). In this thesis, place branding is a concept that refers to the promotion of municipalities, cities and other places. Hankinson (2012) defines place branding as a tool to communicate a municipality’s image to attract visitors and to develop the municipality’s infrastructure as well as economic growth. Moreover, previous literature within place branding reveals an extensive variation in terms of definitions (Hankinson, 2015; Rowley, 2008). Hankinson (2015) describes the different terminologies as an umbrella effect, where the terminologies have developed as an umbrella from place branding depending on geographical and conceptual focus. This implies that the main difference between terminologies such as destination branding and city branding, is the definition of the place along with the purpose of the place branding activities. Moreover, the ‘place’ in place branding has previously been applied in branding practices for both locations, destinations, countries, nations, cities, and regions. Historically, the establishment of place branding within academic articles can be traced back to 1950 (Hankinson, 2015). Furthermore, branding of products has been the main focus in previous research and it was not until the 21th century that place branding has increased (Zenker, 2009). According to Ashworth et al. (2015), there exist no clear and common theoretical framework for place branding and it is therefore often approached with scepticism (van Ham, 2008). However, examples of place branding or promotions of cities can be traced back to 1850. These examples show the promotion of the pyramids in Egypt, the Eiffel Tower in France and the Wild West in America (Ward, 1998; Ashworth et al., 2015). Therefore, there is nothing new with promoting places, what is new is the involvement of the public sector in place branding and place brand management (Ashworth & Voogd, 1990). In further details, place branding has evolved from concepts related to marketing products (Kavaratzis, 2009; Gertner & Kotler, 2004), and nowadays places are increasingly branded similar to corporate brands to distinguish themselves and thereby attract visitors, residents as well as businesses (Gertner & Kotler, 2004; Kavaratzis, 2009; Zenker, 2009; Hankinson, 2015). Baker (2012) explains the new phenomenon “global contest” as the struggle to gain attention and the need for the share of global tourism and trade. Due to the aggressive development of marketing, this global contest has even brought small-towns onto the contest. Baker (2012) also indicates that municipalities of all sizes find themselves competing against other municipalities, but also organisations worldwide. Thus, ambitious communities must compete by using the same principle of branding that once were exclusive for corporations.

Brand Image

Creating a brand image in order to distinguish a place has become essential in a globalised world (Anholt, 2007). Thus, it is central when it comes to understand the concept of place branding to understand the concept of brand image (Anholt, 2007). Kavaratzis and Ashworth (2005) define brand image as the image an organisation wants to be perceived as in accordance with its stakeholders. In further details, creating a brand image is for instance about evoking emotions in order to make a place memorable in the minds of stakeholders, which subsequently creates competitive advantage. In contrast to branding products, a brand image of a city is not owned by anyone. Moreover, a brand image conveys a message that the brand represents a certain promise and that image might facilitate the information search when selecting a brand (Anholt, 2010; Kvaratzis & Ashworth, 2005). Therefore, place branding differs from traditional branding of products in which place branding is about evoking memories and perceptions of the place instead of mainly selling products (Anholt, 2010; Hankinson, 2015). The message can be perceived differently among stakeholders, which implies that the brand image is not only controlled by the organisation but also the stakeholders (Kavaratzis & Ashworth, 2005). Kotler, Asplund, Rei and Haider (1999) have identified three tools used to build a brand image. The first tool includes slogans, themes and positions. The second tool is visual symbols and the third and last tool is events. Kotler et al. (1999) define a slogan as a short phrase that embodies a place’s overall image, and is useful when creating cognitive learning. Furthermore, visual symbols such as logotypes or famous landmarks are also commonly used in place branding and can enhance the brand image of a place if it is consistent with the brand image (Kotler et al, 1999). Lastly, hosting events can also enhance the place’s image (Hankinson, 2004; Wang, 2008).

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Place Branding and the Public Sector

In recent years, place branding has also become a well-known practice within the public sector (Hankinson, 2009). Kavaratzis and Ashworth (2005), and van Ham (2001) state that place branding strategies are often led by public authorities. Maheshwari (2011) demonstrates that place branding is not only limited to increasing the tourist trade, but also plays an important part in developing a municipality’s infrastructure as well as its economic growth. Moreover, place branding is a strategy used by local governments to attract social and financial capital to a place (Dinnie, 2011). Kotler et al. (1999) illustrate that place branding can pave the way of the establishment of new businesses, which can be beneficial when creating job opportunities. Anholt (2010), Hankinson (2015) and Kotler et al. (1999) emphasise that nations and cities are competing about potential businesses, residents and visitors as they have the ability to decide where to go, and therefore it is important for a place to distinguish itself from other places. Thus, as Kavaratzis and Ashworth (2005) state, that place branding is a communication process that involves the local government, which represents the producing side, and the current and potential residents represent the consuming side. Place branding therefore often occurs through collaboration between the public sector and the private sector (Hankinson, 2004; Wang, 2008).

Corporate Social Responsibility

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is an important factor to attract stakeholders to a place and to build a brand image (Morgan et al., 2002; Werther & Chandler, 2011; Dumay et al., 2012; Visser et al., 2015). The focus on the concept of CSR has increased among academic scholars as well as within organisations. Moreover, the increased knowledge within CSR and the widespread use of CSR have led to several terms and definitions depending on the context in which CSR is used (Brejning, 2012; De Geer, Borglund, & Frostenson, 2010; Dahlsrud, 2008). Dahlsrud (2008) defines CSR as the concept of taking responsibility for the impact organisations have on society from environmental, social and economic perspectives. According to Porter and Kramer (2011), if CSR is used wisely it can create a competitive advantage. Furthermore, an increasing involvement from the stakeholders’ side are showing an increasing concern for challenges associated with conditions, outcomes and sustainability in the decision making (Keller & Aaker, 1998). Moreover, according to Carrigan and Attalla (2001), stakeholders that are informed about the production conditions tend to be more willing to consume. This implies that working conditions are important to highlight, as it plays an important role in stakeholders’ decision (Carrigan & Attalla, 2001). In addition, a Fairtrade certification guarantees stakeholders about better conditions and might therefore affect consumers’ decision of consuming. In order to become certified as a Fairtrade City the main criteria are better conditions for producers and employees. Moreover, criteria such as ecological and environmental friendly, as well as working against child labour and discrimination are in focus (, 2016).

Triple Bottom Line

CSR can be defined through the concept of triple bottom line (TBL). TBL acknowledges that organisations should not only be concerned about making economic profit, but also operate responsible. It is a framework that emphasises the environmental, social and economic perspectives of an organisation. These three perspectives, environmental, social and economic, are the cornerstones of TBL (as illustrated in figure 1). Therefore, TBL originated by Elkington (1999), has become a common guide among organisations to describe and report their CSR engagements (Elkington, 1999; Savitz & Weber, 2006). The first cornerstone is the environmental perspective, which reflects the importance of environmental responsibility. It mainly focuses on the impact of consumption on the future (Elkington, 1999), since the fewer resources an organisation consumes, the less impact an organisation has on the environment. Therefore, this perspective includes for instance managing, monitoring, and reporting an organisation’s waste and emissions (, 2016b). Furthermore, the second cornerstone is the social perspective and it involves social capital, for example human capital (Elkington, 1999). This perspective of the TBL therefore concerns stakeholders and the organisations’ impact on them. In addition, the social perspective is about having fair and beneficial working conditions. Therefore, working with social sustainability means improving society by empowering people (Elkington, 1999; Savitz & Weber, 2006). The last cornerstone is the economic perspective that implies that an organisation should strive for economic sustainability. The economic perspective includes the economic capital of an organisation and being profitable (Elkington, 1999). Moreover, being economic sustainable emphasise the importance of providing transparency, for instance about corruption and public procurement policies (Savitz & Weber, 2006). The performance in each cornerstone represents commitment to their stakeholders. The relationship between the cornerstones is not necessarily a trade-off where one must be conceded in order to achieve the other, but rather be in balance in order to maximize the potential benefits in each cornerstone. In an organisation, increased efficiency and innovation can create competitive advantages, which in turn can lead to profitability. However, the TBL emphasise the importance of this without compromising the environment, social and economic sustainability (Elkington, 1999; Savitz & Weber, 2006).

1.1 Background
1.2 Research Problem
1.3 Purpose
1.4 Research Questions
1.5 Delimitations
1.6 Definition of Key Terms
2.1 Selection of Theoretical Framework
2.2 Place Branding
2.3 Corporate Social Responsibility
2.4 City Image Communication
2.5 Public Sector and Regulations in Sweden
2.6 Stakeholders
3.1 Research Perspective, Approach and Design
3.2 Mixed Method Research
3.3  Content Analysis
3.4 Sampling Technique
3.5 Web Content Analysis
3.6 In-depth Interviews
3.7 Literature Review
3.8 Data analysis
3.9 Methodological Criticism
3.10 Ethical Implications
4.1 Content Analysis Findings
4.2 Web Content Analysis Findings
4.3 In-depth Interviews
5.1 Place Branding
5.2 City Image Communication
6.1 Contribution
6.2 Discussion of the Implications
6.3 Limitations
6.4 Future Research

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