“Waging war” for doing good? The fortune global 500’s framing of corporate responses to COVID-19 pandemic

Date
2022-03-01
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Source Title
Sustainability (Switzerland)
Print ISSN
20711050
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Publisher
MDPI
Volume
14
Issue
5
Pages
1 - 19
Language
English
Type
Article
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Abstract

This study examined corporate social responsibility (CSR) communication and pandemic responses of large corporations across multiple industries in a global context. Specifically, this research (1) described the state of CSR communication during the pandemic, and (2) identified how top global Fortune 500 corporations framed their COVID-19 pandemic responses as part of their social advocacy. An in-depth content analysis of the corporate communication messages revealed that top global corporations positioned their pandemic responses as an extension of their ongoing CSR commitment, prioritizing their philanthropic responsibilities over the ethical, legal, and economic responsibilities. They often relied on war metaphors, portraying the virus as the “common enemy” and employees as “heroes,” and highlighted their leadership role in the global “fight” against the pandemic as a “partner” of governments, “protector” of employees, and “supporter” of the communities. Analyzing a large data set from a global perspective, this study provides a comprehensive look at the state of CSR communication during the pandemic and demonstrates how corporations as authoritative societal actors help shape the ongoing discourse on the global COVID-19 pandemic. Thus, the study makes several practical and theoretical contributions to sustainability research and our understanding of the evolving relationship between business and society. © 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

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Keywords
Content analysis, Corporate communication, Corporate social activism, Corporate social responsibility, Framing, Pandemic discourse
Citation
Published Version (Please cite this version)