Corporate Social Responsibility Rhetoric in Times of Crises. A Rhetorical Analysis of CSR Reports Prior to and After Major Corporate Crises

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Veröffentlicht Mai 25, 2018
Maria Gruber

Abstract

Corporate Social Responsibility reporting has grown increasingly in importance for companies in terms of portraying themselves as good corporate citizens. However, when confronted with a major corporate crisis that evoked an extensive loss in stakeholders’ trust, it remained unclear, how to further deal with the need for CSR communication without presenting oneself as exceedingly hypocritical. In the course of this study, the questions of how and to what extent crises cause change in a corporation’s CSR rhetoric were addressed. Therefore, the utilization of the rhetorical dimensions of logos, ethos, pathos, cosmos and autopoiesis as well as the amount of negative disclosure in the CSR reports of the world’s leading automobile companies (Toyota, General Motors, Volkswagen) were analyzed, one year before and one year after they had maneuvered themselves into a corporate crisis. The rhetorical analysis revealed that the distinctive context of each case (including the corporations’ responsibility for the crisis) dictated the rhetorical adjustments of the CSR reporting after the crisis. Moreover, it could be shown, that when reporting on the crisis cause itself, corporations tend to apply the dimension of ethos more frequently to counter the audience’s potential perception of their hypocrisy.

Zitationsvorschlag

Gruber, Maria. 2018. „Corporate Social Responsibility Rhetoric in Times of Crises. A Rhetorical Analysis of CSR Reports Prior to and After Major Corporate Crise“s. MedienJournal 42 (1), 33-50. https://doi.org/10.24989/medienjournal.v42i1.1626.
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