Mediated business sustainability communication for a better world

Forskningsoutput: AvhandlingDoktorsavhandlingSamling av artiklar


This doctoral thesis examines how social actors, which invest in discourse about the business-sustainability relationship, frame and present sustainability in their public communication. Past studies have examined the framing and presentation of business sustainability and corporate responsibility primarily in newspapers. Recent studies have found that media accentuate ambiguity and polyphony of voices about these topics. However, as the boundaries between strategic communication and journalism are blurring, it is important to understand the variety of ways media and communication construct social and cultural change.

This dissertation reports on three empirical studies that examine the framing and presentation of business sustainability in five different owned media publications that are expected to promote sustainability in a business context. Based on a content and textual analysis, the studies examine media and content producers as intermediaries that evaluate, valorize, and negotiate the worth of particular forms of business sustainability. The results of the studies show that the examined intermediaries, each frame business sustainability in specific and strategic ways, with polished accounts and coherent narratives, which are co-constituted by social actors with aligned values and purposes.

The thesis extends research on processes of sensemaking and sensegiving in business sustainability communication (including corporate social responsibility communication). The thesis contributes to this strand of research by showing that intermediaries that actively advocate some forms of sustainable business conduct blur the boundaries between previously identified communication tasks. Typical to information intermediaries, they inform stakeholders and audiences about the social and environmental impacts of business activities and present various solutions to common sustainability problems. They also actively involve stakeholders that engage positively with the authors and can add authority and credibility to the voiced claims. The three empirical studies show how social actors also guide their audiences to adopt sustainability-related practices and discourses. For example, firms are expected to serve as public ambassadors and to create public symbols of sustainability. Without a credible media accountability mechanism, speakers can also leave out important questions and information about business sustainability or corporate responsibility. Transparency and trustworthiness can be improved in all communication tasks by adhering to guidelines for responsible journalism.
KvalifikationDoktor i filosofi
  • Liljander, Veronica, Handledare
  • Polsa, Pia, Handledare
Tryckta ISBN978-952-232-437-5
Elektroniska ISBN978-952-232-438-2
StatusPublicerad - 2021
MoE-publikationstypG5 Doktorsavhandling (artikel)


  • 512 Företagsekonomi


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