Helpful Hypocrisy? Investigating Humour and ‘Double Talk’ in CSR Communication

Sarah Glozer, Mette Morsing

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperResearch


Conventional definitions of corporate hypocrisy focus on decoupling talk and action; incidences where an organisation’s ‘talk’ does not match its ‘walk’. In the context of corporate social responsibility (CSR), communications are inherently aspirational and hence prone to accusations of hypocrisy. Is hypocrisy, however, always undesirable? This caseinformed conceptual paper draws upon the Diesel ‘Global Warming Ready’ campaign to investigate the positive role of humour in hypocritical CSR communications. We highlight the moderating role of humour in distinguishing between ‘single talk’ (factual communications) and ‘double- talk’ (interpretative multiplicity in communications). It is double talk that elevates conventional hypocrisy towards a more ‘helpful’ form of hypocrisy that creates message incongruity and mobilises audiences towards critical reflection. We develop a model that identifies four different levels through which double-talk is manifest and discuss the implications of double-talk for organisations and society, carving out an agenda for future research.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2018
Number of pages35
Publication statusPublished - 2018
EventPaper Development Workshop - London, United Kingdom
Duration: 5 Jun 20186 Jun 2018


WorkshopPaper Development Workshop
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


  • Climate change
  • Communication
  • Corporate Social Responsibility
  • Humour
  • Hypocrisy
  • Satire

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