Corporate Social Responsibility

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Theoretical background

Definitions, technical terms, theories of CSR and information about its background and the media form the base to understanding the upcoming analysis of the conducted research. It fur-ther supports an evaluation of former and current trend shifts of managing and behaving re-sponsibly in today’s business environment. The spotlight is placed on the perception of (C)SR in news media by future business people and the unique one-way communication role of (news) media in order to discover and prove the increasing awareness and integration of (C)SR topics in future business strategies.

Corporate Social Responsibility

The term corporate social responsibility (CSR) evokes an on-going business process, influ-enced by a political and social development in society through globalization (Thomas & Nowak, 2006). Harrison (2010, p. 191) describes CSR as businesses having a responsibility for ‘economic, social, ethical and environmental impacts of its activities’. Further, a company needs to adhere CSR to act responsible towards internal (company related) and external (soci-ety and other parties affected by the company’s actions) stakeholders with the aim ‘to make a positive contribution to the rest of society’ as well as to return some of the profit to good causes (Crowter & Capaldi, 2008; Blowfield & Murray, 2008). Crowther (2002) and Schaltegger et al. (1996) cited in Crowther & Capaldi (2008), argue that the three principles ‘sustainability’, ‘accountability’ and ‘transparency’ embrace CSR activities that should be implemented into companies’ corporate behavior and should correspond to all their actions. The following table 2 illustrates the meaning of the three principles defined by Crowther & Capaldi (2008).
Since companies face an increase of social and competitive pressure due to stakeholder awareness of international business impacts and actions, the implementation of CSR into cor-porate strategies became relevant and crucial to most corporations in order to support trust-worthiness and reliability (David (1973) cited in Kiran & Sharma, 2011). Due to stakeholder pressure, companies’ actions face increasing demand for acting responsibly towards various issues such as environment, global collaborations (outsourcing of productions and services) and its challenges with regards to labor practices, human rights (corruption, bribery, etc.), consumer issues, to name only a few. The issues of ‘accountability’ and ‘transparency’ pre-sent an essential asset of how CSR actions are perceived and how products and services are recognized and judged by customers, society and other stakeholders (Blowfield & Murray, 2008). The reputation and success of present day companies is progressively determined by numerous internal and external factors, which have the power to affect buying decisions and the attractiveness of companies in general. Two diverse definitions (table 3) of CSR with re-gards to current business strategies are prevalent today and perceived differently in the busi-ness environment.
Keith Davis (1973) cited in Crane et al. (2008), argues that CSR requires a ‘consideration of issues beyond the narrow economic, technical, and legal requirements of the firm’. The aim of CSR from this perspective therefore denotes that ‘corporations have an obligation to constitu-ent groups in society other than stakeholders and beyond that prescribed by law or union con-tract’, (Jones (1980) cited in Crane et al., 2008). This means that CSR actions of companies should go beyond regulations, which are necessary to be observed and should be implemented into management in order to avoid ‘green washing effects’3 as well as the use of CSR due to public relation (PR) motivations (Siegle, 2004 cited in Tech, Bown and Jones, 2007). PR should instead be the strengthener of successful CSR strategies, not the driver in order to avoid backfire effects due to untruthful and intransparent business actions.
According to Werther & Chandler (2011, p. 94) five forces are ‘driving CSR to the forefront of corporate strategic thinking: growing affluence, ecological sustainability, globalization, communications technologies, and brands’. These forces restructure the business environment by decreasing the power of stakeholder groups (Werther & Chandler, 2011) in order to follow a more flexible, but reliable corporate strategy

CSR history and development

The origins of CSR and its perception can be traced back into the mid-twenties of the last cen-tury, when the business community’s concern for society began to grow (Crane et al., 2008). Since globalization flourished, CSR gained increasing importance in business due to (differ-ent) societies’ diverse and complex expectations of ideal business actions and behavior (Blowfield & Murray, 2008). No exact definition of CSR can be determined, since different interests, priorities and values competing constantly against each other are determined by trend shifts in society and in the business environment. Since 1950, it is well defined that through different societies worldwide with diverse stakeholder expectations, CSR has to be developed constantly. In 1979, Carroll described four types of responsibility (figure 2), which are commonly mentioned in order to understand the basis of different aspects of CSR that had surfaced.
The philanthrophical point of view changed from a former interpretation of donating at the end of the financial year to an all year around responsibility of companies since the definition of stake-holders is expanded (UK Prime Minister, Gordon Brown cited in Harrison (2010, Kotler and Lee, 2005). The character of corporate philanthropy has developed over time, predominantly in ‘re-sponse to internal and external pressures to balance concerns for shareholder wealth with expecta-tions to demonstrate responsibility for communities contributing to the corporation’s livelihood’ (Kotler and Lee, 2005, p. 145). The wider definition of stakeholders pressured several companies to reinforce their CSR involvement. Since 2009, CSR reporting became an increasing necessity for multinational and other companies because of stakeholder pressure on transparency and their de-mand for responsible business behavior (KPMG, 2011). CSR trend reports of ‘CRReportingAward’ 2011 discovered that 81 per cent of all companies increasingly provide CSR information on their websites, but only 50 out of the 81 per cent link to their CSR reports on the corporate website (PwC, 2011). Contrastingly, KMPG proved that 95 per cent of the 250 biggest companies world-wide and 64 per cent out of 34 chosen countries prove CSR involvement ‘KPMG Corporate Re-sponsibility Survey 2011’ (figure 3). The components ‘reputation and brand’, ‘ethical considera-tion’ and ‘employee motivation’ are mentioned as the three most important reasons for companies to implement CSR into their corporate strategy (figure 4). ‘Economic considerations’ was ranked second with 68% in 2008, but is mentioned by only 32% (KPMG International Corporate Respon-sibility Survey, 2011)


Three CSR-dimensions in media

The three CSR-dimensions in media are defined as ‘opinion forming’, ‘opinion illustrating’ and ‘re-sponsibility for own business actions’ or as Moutchnik (2009) names the third dimension ‘media management’ which links to the responsibility of media companies’. The first CSR-dimension de-scribes the responsibility of media companies to form opinions among society and other stakehold-ers based on the variety of current SR related topics and concerns, mirroring present society issues based on environment, life and business. The second dimension ‘opinion illustrating’ refers to the responsibility of media companies to create content in a trustworthy and reliable manner. The third dimension ‘responsibility for own business actions’ links to the responsibility of media companies’ own CSR related actions in particular and to general responsible business behavior. This means that media companies have to follow corporate responsibility standards such as e.g. ISO management systems4 and have to integrate internal and external stakeholder interests in the CSR strategy deci-sion-making processes to emerge advantages and disadvantages and in order to gain confidence about all factors that influence a responsible business behavior in the media sector e.g. sustainable employment of resources, internal efficiency such as number of editorial staff and so on. ‘The me-dia’s main impact is not environmental, but psychological and intellectual’ (WWF Great Britain, 2004) and therefore faces the pressure to contribute to go beyond regulations in order to support so-ciety and other stakeholders in the most trustworthy manner. The general threat of the media sector today5 enlarges challenges due to a need of efficient and sustainable management and according to Moutchnik (2009) the social and ecological consideration of media companies can be realistically ensured after having reached certain financial wealth (figure 5). A media company’s responsible actions are particularly observed by all stakeholders due to media’s general duty of opinion forming with the support of information distribution.
The current study investigates future business people’s perceptions of SR topics in news media. The first and second CSR-dimension ‘opinion forming’ and ‘opinion illustrating’ has an impact on fu-ture business people’s perceptions towards a news media company’s CSR as well as a media com-pany’s other business activities (third CSR-dimension ‘responsibilty for own business actions’). In conclusion, the two CSR-dimensions ‘opinion forming’ and ‘opinion illustrating’ in media do not lead to any competitive advantage if CSR strategies within the company itself are inconsistent and not transparent as well as contain risks of backfire effects (Moutchnik, 2009). Backfire effects can rise due to one-sided agenda setting or too little transparency of content illustration for example. This can have negative implications on content user trust. Media companies face more than one challenge in order to increase sustainability based on the perspective of their readership (Bonfadelli (2007) cited in Moutchnik, 2009).
The role of content users and especially their opinion towards media content and the media itself are key functions if focusing on CSR in the media industry. Since consumers respond to social and economic forces such as technologies and trends, today’s media consumption is strongly deter-mined by products and services that businesses provide (Küng, Picard and Towse, 2008). This means that (news) media companies have to adjust to new technologies by making their content dis-tribution suitable to e.g. table computers, mobile devices and other modern devices. This demand for a constantly fast distribution requires the same variety of (C)SR topics as well as the most relia-ble resources as possible and therefore increases the challenge of investigative journalism due to pressure based on time and money restrictions (Aris & Bughin, 2005; McQuail, 2003; Trommer-shausen, 2011; Wyss, 2000). (News) media companies are transmitters of information to society and other stakeholders and additionally have primary power of general opinion forming through agenda setting and of the way content is conduced and presented to the audience (Moutchnik, 2009; Schultheis, 2008). Therefore, it is crucial to clarify why CSR practices and actions are implemented to outline the importance of the three CSR-dimensions to the news media industry. This clarifica-tion narrows down potentials that can be transformed into further implications if drawing attention to different stakeholder interests by integrating CSR topics into news media content

Stakeholder theory

Kuhn and Shriver (1992) cited in Freeman (1994, p. 409) carry out the idea that stakeholder rela-tionships are seen and managed as a whole instead of following a ‘constituency view that sees the corporation and its stakeholders as a voluntary community’. The external factors ‘society’ and ‘en-vironment’ have an increasing influence in terms of acting sustainable due to globalization and its trust of stakeholders and limited future resources. Therefore, CSR has grown to be a crucial part of business activities. The stakeholder theory describes that all relationships between groups and ‘in-dividuals (“stakeholders”), each with (a) the power to affect the firm’s performance and/or (b) a stake in the firm’s performance’ Freeman (1984) cited in Jones (1995, p. 407), have an impact on the company’s image, value and sustainability (Crane et al., 2008). Table 4 demonstrates the change of the stakeholder theory

1 Introduction 
1.1 Social responsibility (SR) in today’s business environment
1.2 Problematization
1.3 Purpose
1.4 Delimitation
1.5 Definitions
2 Theoretical background
2.1 Corporate Social Responsibility
2.2 Three CSR-dimensions in media
2.3 Stakeholder theory
2.4 Media
2.5 News media
2.6 Democracy in news media
2.7 Perception
2.8 Theory linkage
3 Methodology
3.1 Research Design
3.2 Research method
3.3 Focus group
3.4 Research format
3.5 Data collection method
3.6 Population
3.7 Sample
3.8 Sample method and selection technique
3.9 Data collection .
3.10 Data analysis
4 Results
5 Analysis
6 Discussion
6.1 Implications
6.2 Limitations
7 Conclusion 
8 List of references .

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