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School of Business | Department of Communication | International Business Communication | 2013
Thesis number: 13366
CEO letters in CSR reports: oil companies in focus
Author: von Berg, Marhaba
Title: CEO letters in CSR reports: oil companies in focus
Year: 2013  Language: eng
Department: Department of Communication
Academic subject: International Business Communication
Index terms: yritysviestintä; business communication; strategia; strategy; raportit; reports; osakkaat; stakeholders; energiatalous; energy economy; kansainväliset yhtiöt; international companies; öljy; oil
Pages: 70
Full text:
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Key terms: Corporate social responsibility, stakeholder perspective, CSR reporting, international business communication
Objectives of the study: A main challenge in planning CSR communication strategy is how to communicate positive motives of a corporation in its CSR activities and how to decrease stakeholder uncertainty. This study provides an analysis of the CEO letters issued by eight oil companies in their CSR reports. The thesis is an investigation of target stakeholder group and move-structure carried out to determine the communicative purpose of CEO letters in CSR reports of eight oil companies. There will be three research questions employed in this study in regards to CEO letters in CSR reports: (1) What is the target stakeholder group? (2) What is the move-structure? (3) What is the communicative purpose?

Methodology and theoretical framework: The data in this qualitative study consisted of eight CEO letters published in CSR reports of international oil companies, a focus group and two semi-structured interviews with experts in the field of CSR communication. Moreover, genre analysis was conducted to analyze the data, which was based on the Bhatia (2004) through which a clear seven step method to genre analysis was utilized. The theoretical framework of the study was based on the literature review, which focused on CSR communication including stakeholder perspective.

Findings and conclusions: The analysis reveals that CEO letters are a common feature in CSR reports internationally, which target all stakeholder groups instead of one particular group. The CEO letters included four distinct moves; (1) Title for the letter, (2) Defining CSR / Justifying CSR involvement with a view to changing, (3) Providing a narrative of salient facts (events, operations, figures), (4) Referring to outlook and priorities for the future. Furthermore, the key communicative purposes identified in the study were establishing importance of CSR-related topics, adding credibility to the report and portraying a positive image. Finally, some recommendations for including CEO letters in CSR reports were given.
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