Image matters and it always has, but that has never been more true than it is today. This also goes for corporations as they find themselves forced to convey an image that reflects their culture and conveys their approach to product production and to the marketplace. Of course, the image that a company puts out is not the company itself, but it does come quite close. It reflects its corporate culture and is a window through which we can get a glimpse of its content.
This is also, and above all, true when as an organisation begins to approach the more social significance of its business. Corporate social responsibility is now a crucial factor, and this image and the manner in which it is conveyed is key.
Indeed, both the concept and the practice of the socially responsible enterprise can be examined and understood through the image that the organisation gives, including with the help of a few modern tools.
This is what Rachel Lim has sought to do for her Master of Arts thesis at the University of Texas at Austin, which is based on an assumption: observing how corporations build their image of social responsibility online can be an important means of better understanding the very nature of today’s culture of enterprise, as well as the meaning management wants to give to their company’s image and the values that underlie it.
The work begins with an examination of the theory behind the image of corporate social responsibility and then builds a model that, based on the organisation’s web sites, examines the conduct of the organisation along with other parameters such as ideology, operational aspects and social aspects in the relations that businesses create with the company. All of this is applied to the Fortune Global 500 corporations, and what emerges is a kaleidoscope of approaches to conveying corporate social responsibility via the Internet. As Rachel Lim explains, “These distinctive CSR approaches reflect the public’s needs and the local cultures of diverse countries.” She also states that the more or less evident involvement of stakeholders and the cultural nature of how they are managed also have a significant influence.
In other words, image and product expressed in an endless variety of ways depending on the culture found within each organisation.
Building a socially responsible image in the homepage of the Fortune Global 500 companies
Faculty of the Graduate School of The University of Texas at Austin.
Master of Arts Degree, August 2013