1 Department of Language and Business Communication, Aarhus School of Business, Aarhus BSS, Aarhus University2 Knowledge Communication, Aarhus School of Business, Aarhus BSS, Aarhus University3 Department of Business Communication, Aarhus BSS, Aarhus University4 Department of Business Communication, Aarhus BSS, Aarhus University
An online perspective
How are the parameters of CSR constructed?-corporate communication policy or the interaction between civil society, governments, and corporations? Recognition of the presentation of CSR on the Web as socially constructed argumentation (Coupland 2005) opens the door for a rhetorical approach to both understanding and creating CSR discourse in the context of the internet. From a linguistics point of view, Pollach (2005) offers strategies for enhancing corporate self-presentation through systemtic functional linguistics. Both approaches set the websites created by businesses as a focal point and then look at how these sites are perceived by intended audiences. This business-centered approach to understanding corporate web presences parallels current stakeholder models such as Donaldson and Preston (1995), which also focus on the corporation as the central focus for stakeholder interactions. However, Burchell and Cook (2006), in arguing that discourse about CSR has implications beyond the interaction between the corporation and its stakeholders, explain that "CSR has become a two-way process of interaction between business and civil society." They use Fairclough's approach to understanding the relationship between power and language to demonstrate dialogue through "competing perspectives" in responses to the EU Green paper and anti-corporate campaign groups protesting business by using the Web for "direct action campaigning." They call for an analysis that is reflective of the dynamic co-construction of CSR discourse through interaction and power relations between "civil society actors" and "the more powerful corporate voices." In incorporating the cultural systems approach to CSR (Kampf 2007) with Burchell and Cook's argument of a two-way process, government can also be included as part of the balance of power in the conversations about CSR on the Internet. By comparing and contrasting the interactions between governments, corporations and civil society in the U.S. and Denmark, a basis for understanding the construction of CSR beyond the corporation can be found. Within the bounds of these situated interactions, rhetorical tools such as Brockreide's rhetorical dimension of attitude (1996) and Burke's notions of terministic screens and entitlement (1966) offer a means of demonstrating how language used to describe CSR is co-constructed in a cultural system in which businesses are situated, but not focal. De-centering business in the understanding of CSR on the Internet offers potential for analyzing CSR discourse as a dynamic system of ideas visible on the Internet, which allows multiple voices and inhibits traditional gatekeepers. Comparing both the cultural systems of the U.S. and Denmark and the situated choices of corporate website designers with respect to communicating CSR initiatives in those systems offers a nuanced approach to understanding the cultural and rhetorical parameters of communicating CSR knowledge online. Brockreide, Wayne. "Dimensions of the Concept of Rhetoric." in Bernard L. Brock & Robert L. Scott., eds. Methods of Rhetorical Criticism: A Twentieth Century Perspective. 2nd ed, revised. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1996, pp. 196-211. Buchell, J. & Cook, J. Confronting the "corporate citizen:" Shaping the discourse of corporate social responsibility. International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy. 26 (3/4): 121-137. Burke, Kenneth. (1966). Language as Symbolic Action: Essays on Life, Literature and Method. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. Coupland, C. (2005). Corporate Social Responsibility as Argument on the Web. Journal of Business Ethics. 62: 355-366. Donaldson, T. & Preston, L. E. (1995). Stakeholder Theory of the Corporation: Concepts, Evidence, and Implications. The Academy of Management Review. 20(1): 65-91. Kampf, C. (2007). Corporate Social Responsibility: WalMart, Maersk and the Cultural Bounds of Representation in Corporate Web Sites. Corporate Communication: An International Journal. 12(1). Pollach. I. (2005) Corporate self-presentation on the WWW: Strategies for enhancing usability, credibility and utility. Corporate Communications: An International Journal. 10(4): 285-301.