Online Company-stakeholder Communication: Lessons from Vattenfall’s Social Media Campaign on Climate Change

Rikke Augustinus Eriksen, Mette Morsing

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperResearchpeer-review


    Based on a systematic data collection we study one of the first pioneering company-stakeholder communication campaigns in social media: the case of energy company Vattenfall A/S’s pan-European campaign ‘The Climate Manifesto’. Our findings challenge the general assumption, that stakeholder interaction and dialogue on CSR issues is advanced in social media. Rather, our data shows how representatives from the corporate sector and civil society organizations repeat and reinforce their arguments with no amendments during the campaign. The analysis shows that constructive dialogue and interaction lacked between the company and stakeholders. Vattenfall was accused of green-washing, resulting in a communications crisis. Negative stakeholder reactions consisted of prejudiced and non-negotiable argumentation indicating that social media imposes new managerial challenges since communication processes are scaled up and bring on autonomous and legitimate sources of information, providing stakeholders with more
    power in terms of co-production of ‘the truth’, and more complex routes to corporate legitimacy compared to offline communication. We discuss assumptions about improved dialogue via social technologies and we question to what extent social media serve the enhancement of improved understandings across corporate and civil society on CSR issues. This paper suggests that managers face a risk of the “double-edge of stakeholder communication” when incorporating social media into their CSR strategies: companies
    need to expose themselves and engage in social media to improve stakeholder engagement, while they by this action also attract higher level of criticism.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication date2014
    Number of pages39
    Publication statusPublished - 2014
    EventEBEN Research Conference 2014: Business Ethics in a European Perspective. A Case for Unity in Diversity? - European School of Management and Technology, Berlin, Germany
    Duration: 12 Jun 201414 Jun 2014


    ConferenceEBEN Research Conference 2014
    LocationEuropean School of Management and Technology
    OtherThe European Business Ethics Network
    Internet address

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