North America

USA - New York

New York
New York
275 Seventh Ave, Suite 706
New York, NY 10001
P: +1.646.722.3041

USA - Detroit/ Ann Arbor

Ann Arbor / Detroit
Ann Arbor/ Detroit
309 Maynard Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
+1 734 913 0348



Frankfurt / Mainz
Kaiserstrasse 22-24
55116 Mainz
+49 6131 2180 0

United Kingdom

58 St. Aldates
Oxford, OX1 1ST
+44 1865 324 911


Badenerstraße 549
8048 Zurich
+41 43 210 97 46

South America


Sao Paulo
Av. Roque Petroni Júnior, 1089
São Paulo, SP Brasil – 04707-900
+55 11 3033 5858

Asia Pacific


Rm.306, Bldg. 2
Lujiazui Software Park No. 100, Lane 91, E'shan Rd. Pudong Shanghai 200127, China
+86 21 6859 2099


Office no. 3, 14th floor German Center
Building No. 9B -DLF Cyber City
Phase-III Gurgaon - INDIA
+91 124 463 6045


Posted On March 09, 2018


Last summer, I spent six weeks doing media research in Ann Arbor, Michigan as the 2017 winner of the Grunig PRIME Research Fellowship. PRIME’s global scope, diverse international team, and its worldwide client base made the company an ideal place for me to be. At the end of my experience, I wrote a paper to remind international PR professionals that concepts habitually referenced on an everyday basis are the products of social construction and, therefore, meanings may vary from one society to another. Specifically, the study concerned corporate social responsibility and its aspects in international media coverage. For the full paper please visit here: Salience of_CSR (PDF).

The meaning of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has always been contested. A recent Aflac survey revealed that even CSR executives couldn’t agree on how to define it, while CSR communicators, investors, and customers had very different ideas about what constitutes socially responsible corporate behavior. Some people believe that CSR refers to corporate charity; others link it to employee relations, environmental protection, or a company’s involvement with social issues such as diversity and human rights. In part, this is due to the multi-dimensionality of the concept and, partly, because of its inherent context-specific nature. Earlier definitions, such as those suggested by Bowen (1953) and Sethi (1975) explicitly link CSR to values and norms of the society in which an organization operates.

In my study, I examined the relative importance of various CSR aspects in news content published across 17 countries and how the prominence of certain issues is linked to the countries’ value systems, as suggested by Hofstede, Hofstede and Minkov (2010). I analyzed the content of 6,692 CSR-related newspaper articles and placed them into five broad categories that consistently appear in various definitions of CSR (Dahlsrud, 2008): environmental responsibility; economic responsibility; stakeholder responsibility (including employees, customers, suppliers, shareholders, unions and others); the social dimension, or community involvement; and voluntariness, which includes corporate charity and ethics.

The results revealed that some CSR dimensions, relatively speaking, are equally relevant in all nations, while others are not For instance, stakeholder responsibility issues were quite prominent in most countries and generated from 30% to 80% of countries’ CSR coverage. Environmental issues were most frequently discussed in China (12.3%), Italy (19.5%), and Switzerland (19%), while they were less prominent in other countries (7% on average). Western countries, especially those located in Western Europe, expressed greater concern about economic responsibilities; this topic drove 40% to 65% of the total CSR-related coverage. Asian media were significantly more likely to emphasize social aspects and voluntariness. Thus, almost half of all Chinese articles discussed companies in either the context of community involvement or voluntariness; in other countries, these two CSR aspects received relatively little coverage.

Finally, the findings suggest that certain aspects of corporate social responsibility were indeed associated with value dimensions identified by Geert Hofstede. A multinomial regression analysis where the economic dimension served as a baseline revealed the following associations (please see the full paper for the descriptions):

  • Countries with higher Power Distance were more likely to discuss stakeholder responsibility than economic responsibility.
  • Higher scores on Masculinity, Uncertainty Avoidance, and Long-Term Orientation were associated with the lower salience of the stakeholder dimension in comparison with the economic dimension.
  • The salience of the environmental responsibility dimension was negatively associated with Power Distance, Individualism, and Uncertainty Avoidance, meaning that these cultures place greater importance on companies’ economic responsibilities than on their treatment of the environment.
  • Somewhat surprisingly, Masculine cultures, considered very competitive, were more likely to focus on the environmental dimension than on economic responsibility.
  • The social dimension (community involvement) was positively linked to Long-Term Orientation, suggesting that in cultures where long-term goals are more important than short-term, greater importance is placed on what firms are doing to help solve social problems rather than in whether they generate profits.
  • Voluntariness was positively associated with Long-Term Orientation and Indulgence, meaning societies that place greater importance on enjoying life and having fun also place greater importance on corporate charity and ethical corporate behavior.

The study has important practical implications for public relations practitioners working for multinational corporations, as it may potentially guide the decisions regarding the focus of their CSR efforts in the host countries. The primary task of a CSR professional is to precisely identify how their audiences see a socially responsible company, and then tailor the organization’s CSR strategy and messages accordingly. Ideally, a superior CSR strategy should aim at “above average” performance on multiple dimensions. However, a company’s management, its shareholders, and CSR professionals expect corporate public relations efforts to be efficient. Therefore, when it comes to CSR communication, as both media space and audience attention are limited, tailoring a company’s CSR strategy and messages to a country’s specific needs may result in more positive media coverage, and consequently, in more favorable attitudes and better relationships with host audiences.

Download Full Paper: Salience of CSR
Download Presentation: CSR Culture Report

About the Author

Mila Khalitova is a Ph.D. student at the University of Florida. Khalitova was awarded the Grunig PRIME Research Fellowship in 2017.

Share on Facebook
Tweet about this on Twitter
Share on LinkedIn
Email this to someone

Share this to social

You may also be interested in

How Integrated Measurement Can Revolutionize PR

Written by Nadin Vernon. Editor's Note: This article was first published as a chapter within AMEC's free eBook "Demonstrating the Value of Communication" Finding new ways to implement strategies is at the heart of those who embrace innovation and adapt to changes in the industry. Technologies already available, as well as those being developed as we speak, have the potential to revolutionize existing methods. There has never been a better time for PR measurement. Working agency-side, you can let automation take care of the legwork and use valuable analyst time to interpret results and add value by storytelling. If you’re in-house, looking to set up your own program, you can benefit in the same way. There are hundreds of easy-to-use tools available that will help you on ...

Learn more

The Big Deal About Big Data & PR

by Amanda Peterson Big data has become one of the most significant trends in modern technology. It’s no exaggeration to say that today’s society is generating massive amounts of information. In fact, studies have predicted that more than 90 percent of data in the world was created in the past two years. Such a wide scope of insight can be extremely useful across a range of industries, which is why many businesses are finding ways to take advantage of it. The field of public relations is no exception to the list of industries using big data to their advantage. Though PR is commonly recognized as a creative field, it is strongly supported by a backbone of research. Utilizing data is becoming increasingly important in PR because of its ability to improve campaign performance and generate ...

Learn more

Der CEO im politischen Spannungsfeld

In der anhaltenden Debatte um Zuwanderung und Integration halten sich die Manager der großen Unternehmen meist vornehm zurück. Wagt sich ein CEO aus der Deckung, kann er indes heftig in die Schusslinie geraten. Der Vorstandsvorsitzende der Siemens AG hat sich im vergangenen Frühjahr pointiert in die bis heute nicht abebbende Diskussion eingemischt. Er reagierte auf eine Äußerung der AfD-Vorsitzenden Alice Weidel, die im Deutschen Bundestag von "Kopftuchmädchen, Messermännern und anderen Nichtsnutzen" schwadronierte. Kaeser reagierte entschlossen und eindeutig in einem Tweet: "Lieber Kopftuchmädchen als Bund Deutscher Mädel." Für den Siemens-Chef war sein öffentlicher Beitrag eine "Herz- und Kopfentscheidung". Enorme Aufmerksamkeit Mit einigen wenigen Zeilen hat der Siemens-Chef ein ...

Learn more