The recent growth of the Internet and World Wide Web has become a focus for both the popular press and social science scholars. The authors of this study examined how large corporate entities are making use of the Web to present themselves as socially responsible citizens and to advance their own policy positions. Analysis of a random sample of Fortune 500 companies revealed 90% had Web pages and 82% of the sites addressed at least one corporate social responsibility issue. More than half of the Web sites had items addressing community involvement, environmental concerns, and education. Few corporations, however, used their Web pages to monitor public opinion on issues or advocate policy positions. The number of social responsibility items on a Web page was positively correlated with the size of an organization and the implementation of tools to make a Web site more navigable, but was unrelated to a corporation's ranking within its industry. The researchers also distinguished between messages that proclaim the corporation does “no-harm”, and items that extol an organization's “good deeds.” Industry groups differed on the no-harm subscale but not good deeds.
Public Relations Review – Elsevier
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