Governance of CSR communication: An international benchmark study on organizational structures enabling and restricting corporate social responsibility communication

Yi Ru Regina Chen, Chun-ju Flora Hung-Baesecke, Maren Christin Mueller

Research output: Chapter in book/report/conference proceedingConference proceedingpeer-review


Organizations, especially corporations, are under an increasing demand of being responsible to the society by various stakeholders as a global trend. Consequently, corporations have adapted to this demand by different means and actions discussed under the broad umbrellas of corporate social responsibility (CSR). This implies strategic decisions linked to core processes of value creation (sourcing, production, marketing, distribution, services) as well as CSR communication aimed at identifying needs and concerns of stakeholders, agreeing on acceptable standards, and reporting about ongoing initiatives. However, communication professionals are often challenged to act within the limits of normative demands for an open discussion about CSR issues and organizational structures that do not support or even restrict such approaches. While various strands of research on CSR communication have investigated the practice of communicating about responsible activities and conducting stakeholder dialogues, the organizational frameworks which – according to structuration theory – enable or restrict those efforts (Giddens, 1984) have largely been neglected until now. The benchmark study presented in this paper closes this research gap by examining how corporations in two major international markets govern CSR communication function and why they do it in a certain way. By surveying 138 CSR professionals in Germany, the largest European market, and China, the largest Asian economy, the research explores CSR communication governance in terms of organizational frameworks consisting of formal and informal rules, allocated resources, strategies, activity orientation, and organizational status that guide CSR communication in the corporations in the two countries. It also identifies “years of CSR communication experience” as the factor predicting the establishment of such governance in German and “ownership” and “CSR approach” in China.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of 16th International Public Relations Research Conference
EditorsYi Grace Ji, Zongchao Cathy Li
PublisherInternational Public Relations Research Conference (IPRRC)
Number of pages21
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2013
Event16th International Public Relations Research Conference, IPRRC 2013: Exploring the Strategic Use of New Media’s Impact on Change Management and Risk in Theory and Practice - Coral Gables, Florida, United States
Duration: 6 Mar 201310 Mar 2013


Conference16th International Public Relations Research Conference, IPRRC 2013
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityCoral Gables, Florida
Internet address


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