Advertisement

Journal of Business Ethics

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

CSR Communication: An Impression Management Perspective

  • Jasmine Tata
  • Sameer Prasad
Article

Abstract

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.

Keywords

Corporate social responsibility Impression management Communication 

References

  1. Aguilera, R. V., Rupp, D. E., Williams, C. A., & Ganapathi, J. (2007). Putting the S back in corporate social responsibility: A multilevel theory of social change in organizations. Academy of Management Review, 32(3), 836–863.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Alali, F., & Romero, S. (2011). The use of the internet for corporate reporting in the Mercosur (Southern Common Market)—The Argentina case. Advances in International Accounting., 28(1), 157–167.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Anderson, N. H. (1965). Averaging versus adding as a stimulus-combination rule in impression formation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 2, 1–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Arndt, M., & Bigelow, B. (2000). Presenting structural innovation in an institutional environment: Hospitals’ use of impression management. Administrative Science Quarterly, 45, 494–522.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Avery, D. R., & McKay, P. F. (2006). Target practice: An organizational impression management approach to attracting minority and female job applicants. Personnel Psychology, 59, 157–187.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bacharach, S. (1989). Organizational theories: Some criteria for evaluation. Academy of Management Review, 14(4), 496–515.Google Scholar
  7. Bansal, P., & Kistruck, G. (2006). Seeing is (not) believing: Managing impressions of the firm’s commitment to the natural environment. Journal of Business Ethics, 67, 165–180.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Baumeister, R. F. (Ed.). (1986). Public self and private self. New York, NY: Springer.Google Scholar
  9. Baumeister, R. F., Bratslavsky, E., Finkemauer, C., & Vohs, K. D. (2001). Bad is stronger than good. Review of General Psychology, 5(4), 323–370.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Baumeister, R. F., & Jones, E. E. (1978). When self-presentation is constrained by the target’s knowledge: Consistency and compensation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 36, 608–618.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Bozeman, D. P., & Kacmar, K. M. (1997). A cybernetic model of impression management processes in organizations. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 69, 9–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Brammer, S., & Pavellin, S. (2004). Voluntary social disclosures by large UK companies. Business Ethics: A European Review, 13(2/3), 86–99.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Carter, S. M. (2006). The interaction of top management group, stakeholder, and situational factors on certain corporate reputation management activities. Journal of Management Studies, 43, 1145–1176.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Chen, C. C., & Meindl, J. R. (1991). The construction of leadership images in the popular press: The case of Donald Burr and People’s Express. Administrative Science Quarterly, 36, 521–555.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Cho, C. H., & Patten, D. M. (2007). The role of environmental disclosures as tools of legitimacy: A research note. Accounting, Organizations and Society, 32(7–8), 639–647.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Cialdini, R. B. (1989). Indirect tactics of image management: Beyond basking. In R. A. Giacalone & P. Rosenfeld (Eds.), Impression management in the organization (pp. 45–56). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  17. Cormier, D., & Magnan, M. (2003). Environmental reporting management: A continental European perspective. Journal of Accounting and Public Policy, 22(1), 43–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Coupland, C. (2005). Corporate social responsibility as argument on the web. Journal of Business Ethics, 62(4), 355–366.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Dawkins, C., & Ngunjiri, F. W. (2008). Corporate social responsibility reporting in South Africa. Journal of Business Communication, 45(3), 286–307.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Dutton, J. E., & Dukerich, J. M. (1991). Keeping an eye on the mirror: Image and identity in organizational adaptation. Academy of Management Journal, 34(3), 517–554.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Elsbach, K. D. (1994). Managing organizational legitimacy in the California cattle industry: The construction and effectiveness of verbal accounts. Administrative Science Quarterly, 39, 57–88.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Elsbach, K. D., & Kramer, R. M. (1996). Members responses to organizational identity threats: Encountering and countering business week rankings. Administrative Science Quarterly, 41(3), 442–476.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Elsbach, K. D., & Sutton, R. I. (1992). Acquiring organizational legitimacy through illegitimate actions: A marriage of institutional and impression management theories. Academy of Management Journal, 35(4), 699–738.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Elsbach, K. D., Sutton, R. I., & Principe, K. E. (1998). Averting expected challenges through anticipatory impression management: A study of hospital billing. Organization Science, 9, 68–86.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Etzioni, A. (1964). Modern organizations. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  26. Fiske, S. T., & Taylor, S. E. (2013). Social Cognition. London: Sage.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Freeman, R. E. (1984). Strategic management: A stakeholder approach. Boston, MA: Pittman.Google Scholar
  28. Gabbioneta, C., Ravasi, D., & Mazzola, P. (2007). Exploring the drivers of corporate reputation: A study of Italian securities analysts. Corporate Reputation Review, 10(2), 99–123.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Gardner, W. L., & Martinko, M. J. (1988). Impression management in organizations. Journal of Management, 14, 321–338.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Gioia, D. A., Schultz, M., & Corley, K. G. (2000). Organizational identity, image, and adaptive instability. Academy of Management Review, 25(1), 63–81.Google Scholar
  31. Goffman, E. (1959). The presentation of self in everyday life. Garden City, NY: Doubleday Anchor.Google Scholar
  32. Greening, D. W., & Gray, B. (1994). Testing a model of organizational response to social and political issues. Academy of Management Journal, 37(3), 467–498.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Hatch, M. J., & Schultz, M. (2002). Are the strategic stars aligned for your corporate brand. Harvard Business Review, 79(2), 128–134.Google Scholar
  34. Highhouse, S., Brooks, M. E., & Gregarus, G. (2009). An organizational impression management perspective on the formation of corporate reputations. Journal of Management, 35(6), 1481–1493.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Hooghiemstra, P. (2000). Corporate communication and impression management—New perspectives. Why companies engage in corporate social reporting. Journal of Business Ethics, 27(1/2), 55–68.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Horrigan, B. (2010). Corporate social responsibility in the 21st century. Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Jones, E. E., & Pittman, T. S. (1982). Toward a general theory of strategic self-presentation. In J. Suls (Ed.), Psychological perspectives on the self (pp. 231–262). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  38. Lamertz, K., Pursey, P. M., Heugens, A. R., & Calmet, L. (2005). The configuration of organizational images among firms in the Canadian beer brewing industry. Journal of Management Studies, 42(4), 818–843.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Leary, M. R., & Kowalski, R. M. (1990). Impression management: A literature review and two-component model. Psychological Bulletin, 107, 34–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Marcus, A. A., & Goodman, R. S. (1991). Victims and shareholders: The dilemmas of presenting corporate policy during a crisis. Academy of Management Journal, 34, 281–305.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Mezner, M., & Nigh, D. (1995). Buffer or bridge? Environmental and organizational determinants of public affairs activities in American firms. Academy of Management Journal, 38(4), 975–996.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Mitchell, R. K., Agle, B. R., & Wood, D. J. (1999). Toward a theory of stakeholder identification and salience. Academy of Management Review, 22, 853–886.Google Scholar
  43. Mohamed, A. A., Gardner, W. L., & Paolillo, J. G. P. (1999). A taxonomy of organizational impression management tactics. Advances in Competitiveness Research, 7, 108–130.Google Scholar
  44. O’ Dwyer, B. (2003). Conceptions of corporate social responsibility: The nature of managerial capture. Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal, 16(4), 523–557.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Pfeffer, J., & Salancik, G. R. (1978). The external control of organizations: A resource dependence perspective. New York, NY: Harper and Row.Google Scholar
  46. Quazi, A. M., & O’Bien, D. (2000). An empirical test of a cross-national model of corporate social responsibility. Journal of Business Ethics, 25, 35–51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Ravasi, D., & Schultz, M. (2006). Responding to organizational identity threats: Exploring the role of organizational culture. Academy of Management Journal, 49(3), 433–458.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Rindova, V. P., & Fombrun, C. J. (1999). Constructing of competitive advantage: The role of firm–constituent interactions. Strategic Management Journal, 20, 691–710.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Rowley, T. J. (1997). Moving beyond dyadic ties: A network theory of stakeholder influences. Academy of Management Review, 22, 87–910.Google Scholar
  50. Schlenker, B. R. (1980). Impression management: The self-concept, social identity, and interpersonal relations. Monterey, CA: Brooks/Cole.Google Scholar
  51. Schlenker, B. R. (1985). Identity and self-identification. In B. R. Schlenker (Ed.), The self and social life (pp. 65–99). New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  52. Schonbach, P. (1990). Account episodes: The management or escalation of conflict. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  53. Scott, S. G., & Lane, V. R. (2000). A stakeholder approach to organizational identity. Academy of Management Review, 25(1), 43–62.Google Scholar
  54. Siegel, P. A., & Brockner, J. (2005). Individual and organizational consequences of CEO claimed handicapping: What’s good for the CEO may not be so good for the firm. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 96, 1–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Tedeschi, J. T. (Ed.). (1981). Impression management theory and social psychological research. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  56. Thompson, D. W., Panwar, R., & Hansen, E. N. (2010). Examining social responsibility orientation gaps between society and industry executives. Management Decision, 48(1), 156–171.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Tixier, M. (2003). Note: Soft vs. hard approach in communicating on corporate social responsibility. Thunderbird International Business Review, 45(10), 71–91.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Wayne, S. J., & Ferris, G. R. (1990). Influence tactics, affect, and exchange quality in supervisor–subordinate interactions: A laboratory experiment and field study. Journal of Applied Psychology, 75, 487–499.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Whetten, D. A., & Mackey, A. (2002). A social actor conception of organizational identity and its implications for the study of organizational reputation. Business and Society, 41(4), 393–414. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Zadek, S., Pruzan, P., & Evans, R. (1997). Building corporate accountability: Emerging practices in social and ethical accounting and auditing.  London: Earthscan.Google Scholar

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

Personalised recommendations