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This paper aims to investigate a company’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) communications in a business network with regard to the flow of critical events related to CSR.Design/methodology/approachThe paper focuses on the drama that unfolded at a Nordic-based multinational corporation, Stora Enso, after a critical event related to CSR and the specific signs and codes applied by the company to justify its actions. To achieve the aims, the authors conducted a dramaturgical and semiotic analysis of the company’s corporate communications in connection with various actions prior to or following the major critical event.FindingsThe findings consist of a five-act drama that unfolded around certain CSR communication activities at the company. The authors followed the company’s shift in communication strategy as they were compelled to adopt a more responsive and involved approach. The results also show the roles of the various business network actors in shaping CSR communications.Practical implicationsThis case has practical uses for providing the framework to create effective messages at different stages of the communication process related to a major CSR event.Originality/valueThe originality of the study lies in its application of a dramaturgical and semiotic approach to the analysis of CSR communication. It also contributes to the scarce literature on CSR communication within business networks.
critical perspectives on international business – Emerald Publishing
Published: May 22, 2020
Keywords: Business-to-business marketing; CSR communication; Semiotics; Critical events; Dramaturgical approach
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