An investigation of CSR communication strategies in Irish listed companies

  • Judith Wylie

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


The pressure on companies to engage in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is intensifying and communication discharging accountability in relation to CSR activities is becoming increasingly important, particularly in today’s networked society. CSR communication is complex and a conceptual model of CSR communication has been developed from the literature and forms the basis on which to investigate CSR communication strategies in Irish listed companies using a mixed-methods approach.
To date no study has captured CSR communication output across corporate reports, corporate websites and interactive technologies simultaneously. Study 1 of this thesis includes the development, from the literature, of a Networked CSR Communication Output Index which was tested using a content analysis of Irish listed companies’ websites between 2014 and 2017. CSR communication behaviour was analysed using panel data over time, across and between companies. Consumer interest, size and prior year disclosures were all found to have a significant impact on the Networked CSR Communication Output Index.
Study 2 is an in-depth qualitative case study analysis getting inside the ‘black-box’ of the processes and decision-making around CSR communication within four case companies drawn from Study 1. The findings are discussed under key themes emanating from Morsing and Schultz’s (2006) three communication strategies (stakeholder information, stakeholder response and stakeholder involvement). It was found that these stakeholder communication strategies occur on a continuum and that although some companies have the platforms to allow stakeholder involvement in strategy setting, management continue to retain control over messaging; therefore stopping short of communication constituting the organisation (CCO) whereby corporate strategy is co-determined in dialogue between stakeholders and companies. A theme emerging from all the cases was that stakeholder engagement would add value to their CSR communication strategy, particularly in protecting reputation and attracting and retaining staff, but each has different levels of stakeholder interest and resources, which limits their ability to engage in CCO.
​​​​​​​It is hoped that this thesis will inform academics investigating CSR communication, practitioners in developing more effective CSR communication practice and policy makers in regulating corporate accountability.
Date of AwardNov 2020
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorAnthony Wall (Supervisor) & Anne-Marie Ward (Supervisor)


  • Corporate responsibility
  • Corporate reporting
  • Sustainability

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