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School of Business | Department of Communication | International Business Communication | 2014
Thesis number: 13752
CSR communication in B2B business: "It is a bonus, not a priority."
Author: Nieminen, Heidi
Title: CSR communication in B2B business: "It is a bonus, not a priority."
Year: 2014  Language: eng
Department: Department of Communication
Academic subject: International Business Communication
Index terms: viestintä; communication; yritysviestintä; business communication; kansainvälinen; international; yhteiskuntavastuu; corporate responsibility; ostot; industrial purchasing; business-to-business; business-to-business
Pages: 104
Full text:
» hse_ethesis_13752.pdf pdf  size:2 MB (1694116)
Key terms: Corporate social responsibility, Corporate social responsibility communication, Stakeholder dialogue, Organizational buying, Organizational buying decision, International Business Communication
Objective of the Study:

The objective of the thesis was to shed light on how suppliers communicate CSR to organizational buyers in B2B business relationships by studying the topic from the buyer's perspective. More specifically, the study examined how organizational buyers perceive the role of CSR in business, how they perceive CSR communication practiced by suppliers, and to what extent organizational buyers process CSR communication when making buying decisions. The topic was scrutinized in the context of the Finnish shipping industry by way of studying the company Finnlines as the case organization.

Methodology and the Analytical Framework:

The study was conducted as a qualitative single case study using semi-structured interviews with four international organizational buyers who work in a department of altogether 11 buyers. The interviews were conducted in Helsinki and an interview guide was formulated to guide the research. The analytical framework of the study was constructed on the basis of the research questions. It consisted of three main parts: 1) B2B business relationship between the supplier and the buyer 2) CSR communication and 3) the organizational buying-decision.

Findings and Conclusions:

The main findings of the study were threefold. First, the findings showed that CSR was perceived rather traditionally, emphasizing the economic and legal aspect of responsibility, and the role of CSR was perceived mostly as enhancing corporate reputation. Furthermore, the buyers experienced that the suppliers did not heavily promote CSR in their communication, and if they did promote it, the buyers had a somewhat skeptical stance towards it. Finally, the findings showed that CSR communication was perceived as something extra while concurrently the organizational buyers were receptive to CSR messages; yet their motivation to process CSR communication was low and the effect of CSR communication on the buyer's buying- decision was marginal at most.

These findings indicate that the case organization should emphasize CSR issues, both in the purchasing department and in the organization in general, in order to leverage competitive advantage. For supplier organizations in shipping, the findings indicate that supplier organizations should plan their CSR communications more carefully in order to influence organizational buyers in their supplier selections. Moreover, the findings indicate that B2B shipping organizations in general should further emphasize CSR both in their operations and in their communications to gain an image of a forerunner organization and gain a competitive edge over competitors.
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