CSR Communication Research: A Theoretical-cum-Methodological Perspective From Semiotics

Business and Society 60 (4):876-908 (2021)
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Despite the proliferation of studies on corporate social responsibility (CSR), there is a lack of consensus and a cardinal methodological base for research on the quality of CSR communication. Over the decades, studies in this space have remained conflicting, unintegrated, and sometimes overlapping. Drawing on semiotics—a linguistic-based theoretical and analytical tool, our article explores an alternative perspective to evaluating the quality and reliability of sustainability reports. Our article advances CSR communication research by introducing a theoretical-cum-methodological perspective which provides unique insights into how to evaluate the quality of CSR communication. Particularly, we illustrate the application of our proposed methodology on selected U.K. FTSE 100 companies. Our two-phased analysis employed the Greimas Canonical Narrative Schema and the Semiotic Square of Veridiction in drawing meanings from selected sustainability/csr reports. In addition, we present a distinctive CSR report quality model capable of guiding policy makers and firms in designing sustainability/csr reporting standards.


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