Corporate social responsibility communication in social networking sites: unfinalisable and dialogical processes of legitimation

Glozer, Sarah Alice (2015) Corporate social responsibility communication in social networking sites: unfinalisable and dialogical processes of legitimation. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Building upon constitutive models of corporate social responsibility (CSR) communication, which appreciate the role of both organisations and stakeholders in constructing CSR, this thesis suggests that understanding of CSR is on-going and emergent through unfinalisable legitimation processes in social networking sites (SNSs). Constructed upon management research that has examined discursive legitimation processes, this thesis shifts away from CSR communications research into websites, CSR reports and press releases, to descriptively investigate discourse within interaction (dialogue) in the textually rich SNS context. The thesis contributes to the CSR literature by challenging conventional definitions of legitimacy, which suggest that objective, legitimacy ‘realities’ are espoused from ‘transmission’ (sender-orientated) models of communication, to offer interpretations of legitimation processes rooted within discursive and dialogical constructionism.

In exploring how discursive legitimation occurs in contemporary networked societies across four UK-based retailers: the Co-operative, Lidl, Marks and Spencer and Sainsbury’s, findings capture the ‘centripetal’ (unifying) forces of normalisation, moralisation and mytholigisation at play in organisation-stakeholder dialogue across the SNSs, but also the ‘centrifugal’ (dividing) forces of authorisation, demythologisation and carnivalisation. These findings problematise the consensual tone of legitimacy as organisation-society ‘congruence’ and reveal the shifting and contradictory expectations that surround CSR. Within a Bakhtinian (1981, 1986) conception of dialogue, the findings most markedly reveal perpetuality (unfinalisability) in CSR communication and the impossibility of exhausting relations in polyphonic (multi-vocal) SNS environments, characterised by ‘dispersed authority.’ Furthermore, in conceptualising SNSs as interactive, agential and co-constructed organisational ‘texts’, findings also illuminate the performative (constructive) nature of SNSs in organising and (re)constituting CSR through organisation-stakeholder dialogue. This thesis provides a framework for understanding legitimation processes in SNSs, with implications for theory and practice.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Caruana, R.
Hibbert, S.A.
Keywords: Corporate Social Responsibility communication, Dialogue, Discourse, Legitimacy, Social media, Social networking sites
Subjects: H Social sciences > HM Sociology
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Social Sciences, Law and Education > Nottingham University Business School
Item ID: 28469
Depositing User: Glozer, Sarah
Date Deposited: 02 Oct 2015 11:11
Last Modified: 15 Oct 2017 12:44

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