Instrumental and/or Deliberative? A Typology of CSR Communication Tools

Journal of Business Ethics 131 (2):401-414 (2015)
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Abstract

Addressing the critique that communication activities with regard to CSR are often merely instrumental marketing or public relation tools, this paper develops a toolbox of CSR communication that takes into account a deliberative notion. We derive this toolbox classification from the political approach of CSR that is based on Habermasian discourse ethics and show that it has a communicative core. Therefore, we embed CSR communication within political CSR theory and extend it by Habermasian communication theory, particularly the four validity claims of communication. Given this communicative basis, we localize CSR communication as a main means to receive moral legitimacy within political CSR theory. A typology of CSR communication tools is advanced and substantiated by a review of case studies supporting the categories. Thus, we differentiate between instrumental and deliberative, as well as published and unpublished tools. Practical examples for the literature-derived tool categories are provided and their limitations are discussed

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Peter Seele
Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf (PhD)