Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 132, Issue 4, pp 765–778 | Cite as

CSR Communication: An Impression Management Perspective

  • Jasmine Tata
  • Sameer Prasad


Organizations today recognize that it is not only important to engage in corporate social responsibility (CSR), but that it is also equally important to ensure that information about CSR is communicated to audiences. At times, however, the CSR image perceived by audiences is not an accurate portrayal of the organization’s CSR identity and is, therefore, incongruent with the desired CSR image. In this paper, we build upon the nascent work on organizational impression management by examining CSR communication from an impression management perspective. The model developed here proposes that incongruence between desired and current CSR images motivates an organization to decrease the incongruence through CSR communication. This relationship is moderated by four factors: importance of CSR image to the organization; power, status, and attractiveness of the target audience; importance of CSR image to the target audience; and media attention and public scrutiny. The model also identifies four dimensions of CSR communication structure (anticipatory–reactive, assertive–protective, direct–indirect, and image enhancing–image correcting) and includes a feedback loop through which audience interpretation of the CSR communication can influence the organization’s CSR image incongruence. Two illustrative examples are provided to indicate how the model may be applied to organizations. This paper has several implications for research and practice. It draws connections between impression management theory and CSR and adds to the emerging literature on organizational impression management. It can also help organizations decide on the appropriate CSR communication structure to use in specific situations and be more effective in their CSR communication.


Corporate social responsibility Impression management Communication 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Business AdministrationLoyola University ChicagoChicagoUSA
  2. 2.Department of Management, College of Business & EconomicsUniversity of Wisconsin-WhitewaterWhitewaterUSA

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