CSR Communication on Social Media: Overcoming Stakeholders’ Mistrust and Scepticism Towards Sustainable-related Disclosures

Amedeo Schierano

Student thesis: Master thesis


The international business scenario is heading towards exploring new sustainable approaches to implement and include when operating to generate revenues. An always greater and urgent demand from critic and pretentious external stakeholders is making companies realise that a sustainable development is of vital importance to continue to perform in every market worldwide. As a result, Corporate Social Responsibility is becoming one of the pivotal and central themes addressed within every core strategy, and firms are progressively reconciling a social mission with the standard economic purpose. However, it is acknowledged that traditional firms face a considerable challenge as to being believed to act sustainably, mainly due to phenomena like greenwashing which often threaten also reliable companies’ reputation. Therefore, the research explores what are the elements and features necessary to attain credibility by making a CSR communication trustworthy. Further, the study focuses on the disclosures that occur on social media, as the stakeholders’ most reliable source of information. In order to explore and understand the concept of CSR communication on social media, the research employed multiple qualitative methods aimed at discovering the thoughts, beliefs and attitudes towards CSR promotions. Initially, the study utilised in-depth interviews with experts in order to gather generic insights in the field of CSR, CSR communication, social media and social enterprises. The empirical data were supported by secondary data which assisted in the interpretation and categorisation of results. Afterwards, the research focuses on the instances of three SEs and a traditional company within the personal care industry, to concretely observe how different types of firms disclose their sustainable actions and what is the users’ reaction. Findings revealed that for-profit firms have to confront a higher level of mistrust and scepticism than SEs, but by focusing the CSR disclosures on the concrete impact achieved and the fit with the business strategy, while leveraging personal relevance and transparency when establishing a meaningful dialogue with users, organizations can enhance trust and reliability.

EducationsMSc in International Marketing and Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2019
Number of pages111