An upper hand

As many disciplines seek to understand corporate social responsibility (CSR), the role of communication has been relatively underexplored despite its prevalence in demonstrating and shaping social responsibility positions and practice. Together with Steve May and Jennifer Bartlett, I have singled out four aces we can play. Communication studies alert us to (1) how meaning is constructed through communication, something that has implications for the management of organizations as publics hold different views of CSR and expect different things from them; (2) how a dialogue between an organization and its publics should unfold; (3) how practices of transparency can assist organizations to come across as trustworthy actors; and, importantly, (4) how a complexity view is fruitful to grasp the CSR communication process. These four key themes could be instructive for practitioners who want to argue for and demonstrate the usefulness of strategic communication for the management of CSR and bridge meso and macro levels of analysis. These ideas are fleshed out in a new book chapter called “Four aces: Bringing communication perspectives to corporate social responsibility” that has been published in Ralph Tench, William Sun, Brian Jones (ed.) Communicating Corporate Social Responsibility: Perspectives and Practice (Critical Studies on Corporate Responsibility, Governance and Sustainability, Volume 6).

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