More Than "Going Green": An Analysis of Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability Communications from Companies in the Greater Lafayette Community

Elizabeth Thompson, Purdue University


Corporate social responsibility (CSR) has been an area of study for many years, with the modern era beginning in the 1950’s. Much of the research literature has been focused from a management perspective, and only somewhat recently have communication specific theories and approaches begun to bloom. This thesis seeks to understand the modern construct of corporate social responsibility and sustainability through an analysis of a diverse group of companies in a local ecosystem. Four of the largest ten employers in Tippecanoe County and two small-two medium sized businesses were studied by interviewing representatives of those companies across a range of questions related to corporate social responsibility and sustainability communications. The analysis of the interviews concludes that most companies have an implied understanding of CSR, though use or participation in the full five dimensions of CSR, as defined in the thesis is limited. Similarly, the findings suggest that companies understand the concept of sustainability and related communications, but do not necessarily undertake actions in this realm. Additional analysis provides suggested actions that companies could take to enhance their CSR and sustainability communications to increase legitimacy across stakeholder groups, for the benefit of both the companies and the ecosystem(s) in which they operate.




Sypher, Purdue University.

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