Encountering Sustainable Communication and Green Washing: Environmental Values in Organizational Communication

In S. M. Amadae (ed.), Computational Transformation of the Public Sphere: Theories and Cases. Helsinki: Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Helsinki. pp. 108-129 (2020)
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In this study we examine how different organizations communicate their commitments to sustainability and corporate social responsibility on their websites, and the different ways stakeholders could interpret this communication. We do this by examining several case studies and reflecting on those cases with the help of a theoretical framework. Our main findings are that there is a growing concern amongst stakeholders regarding environmental values and that unsubstantiated sustainability claims issued in corporate publicity can be interpreted as greenwashing. We identify a conflict between goals of growth versus environmental sustainability in some of the cases. We also discover that organizations appear to be more transparent with their intentions by communicating their environmental values based on firm-serving motives rather than public-serving ones.


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