An Analysis of CSR Communication as Political Satire and its Potential towards the Sustainable Development Goals

Mette Morsing, Sarah Glozer

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperResearchpeer-review


This paper offers an investigation of the role of humour in perceptions of organizational hypocrisy in CSR communication. It has been argued : hat CSR communication is inherently aspirational, hence prone to accusations of hypocrisy. We propose that an appreciation of humour influences the extent to which corporate messages have a performative potential to be seen as either expressions of hypocrisy (i.e. greenwash through dislike and disidentification with the sender) or hyperbole (i.e. political satire through like and identification with the sender). Based on a visual frame analysis of the Diesel ‘Global Warming Ready’ campaign, we argue that conventional expectations of tight couplings between talk and action (‘practice what you preach’) incline audiences to perceive talk-action-decouplings as greenwashing and hypocritical statements from amoral organizations. We offer an alternative explanation. We propose that the display of such talk-action inconsistencies may evoke a politicised and satirical form of humour affording audiences with the opportunity to feel part of a cognizant elite that is knowledgeable about issues of climate change. In doing so, humour elevates the organization from a position of hypocrisy to one of an hyperbolist; a facilitator of an exaggerated futurological scenario that encourages ambiguity, reflection and potentially positive identification with the organization. We develop a model that conceptualizes the implications of an absence and presence of humour in interpreting CSR communication and we discuss the implications for CSR communication as well as offering managerial implications and an agenda for future research.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2018
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Event25th Annual International Vincentian Business Ethics Conference. IVBEC 2018 - New York, United States
Duration: 25 Oct 201827 Oct 2018
Conference number: 25


Conference25th Annual International Vincentian Business Ethics Conference. IVBEC 2018
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityNew York
Internet address

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