Strategies for Climate Change and Impression Management: A Case Study Among Canada’s Large Industrial Emitters

Journal of Business Ethics 132 (2):329-346 (2015)
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Abstract

This paper explores the justifications and impression management strategies that industrial companies use to rationalize their impacts on climate change. These strategies influence the perceptions of stakeholders through the use of techniques of neutralization intended to legitimize the impacts of corporate operations in the area of climate change. Based on a qualitative and inductive approach, 10 case studies were conducted of large Canadian industrial emitters. Interviews were conducted with managers and environmental specialists. Public documentation was also collected when available. This study identifies six main neutralization techniques that industrial emitters use to rationalize their impacts: self-proclaimed excellence, promotion of a systemic view, denial and minimization, denouncing unfair treatment and deceptive appearances, economic and technological blackmail, and blaming others. The paper develops a better understanding of corporate arguments and strategies aimed at influencing the perceptions of stakeholders, including policymakers. The study also contributes to the literature on impression management by shedding light on new strategies and techniques of neutralization used by managers to shape the perceptions of stakeholders on socially sensitive issues.

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