WHAT SHAPES THE CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY COMMUNICATION OF FAMILY FIRMS? EMPIRICAL FINDINGS FROM A QUALITATIVE STUDY

Michael Kuttner, Johannes Kepler University, Austria
Birgit Feldbauer-Durstmüller, Johannes Kepler University, Austria

Published in

EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF MANAGEMENT
Volume 19, Issue 1, p19-38, March 2019

ABSTRACT

Our study addresses the corporate social responsibility (CSR) communication of medium-sized family firms (FFs), a topic that has gained little attention within academic research up to now. We apply an exploratory multiple case study design, based on qualitative data gained from interviews and an extensive analysis of professional internet presences of 10 medium-sized FFs, including corporate websites and social media (e.g., Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Instagram). Results indicate that corporate websites and Facebook are the preferred internet communication channels for medium-sized FFs, which primarily report on social CSR issues. Employees, the local community, and customers are the most addressed stakeholder groups. Furthermore, we found indicators for the influence of the industry and the degree of internationalization on CSR communication. Regionally operating FFs are setting different CSR communication priorities compared with their worldwide operating counterparts (e.g., support of the local community). We end up with a broad range of lessons learned from our study for corporate practice (e.g., clear focus on specific communication channels as well as certain stakeholder groups) and future research (e.g., increased consideration of contingency factors such as size, industry, or degree of internationalization).

Keywords

corporate communication; corporate social responsibility (CSR); CSR communication; medium-sized family firms (FFs); stakeholder theory; multiple case study


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