Corporate Social Responsibility Practices and Organizational Reputation in Crisis

Isabelle C Barrett Xiaomei Cai Department of Communication George Mason University 4400 University Drive, 3D6 Fairfax, VA 22030

In the present study, we examine how the severity of a crisis may impact how stakeholders view motives behind corporate social responsibility (CSR) practices and consequently, organizational reputation. Crises threaten organizational reputation and how stakeholders view the crisis influences attempts to manage the crisis. CSR is a self-regulating function of business that focuses on social imperatives and social consequences. CSR is about going beyond what is required by law to help society, whether it be for the social good or the company’s own benefit. While CSR can be used as a reactive method to build reputation back up after a crisis, it is not as effective as proactive CSR. Proactive CSR can mitigate potential consequences to organizational reputation in crisis, however, this conclusion is limited to two types of crises, preventable and victim. The variable of severity is important to explore in crisis communication because it can hinder the ability of CSR to protect organizational reputation. To my knowledge, no studies have approached a severity-specific variable with CSR in crisis from an organizational reputation perspective. Using a survey, we present scenarios of crisis with varying severity and CSR practice to inquire about attitudes towards a hypothetical organization. Research suggests that even with proactive CSR practices, potential consequences to organizational reputation may still be great in severe crises.

Additional Abstract Information

Presenter: Isabelle Barrett

Institution: George Mason University

Type: Poster

Subject: Communications

Status: Approved

Time and Location

Session: Poster 4
Date/Time: Tue 11:00am-12:00pm
Session Number: 3668