Understanding Communication of Sustainability Reporting: Application of Symbolic Convergence Theory (SCT)
The purpose of this paper is to investigate the nature of rhetoric and rhetorical strategies that implicit in the standalone sustainability reporting of the top 24 companies of the Fortune 500 Global. We adopt Bormann (1972) SCT framework to study rhetorical situation and how corporate sustainability reporting (CSR) messages can be communicated to the audience (public). The concepts of SCT in the sustainability reporting’s communication comes under different types of legitimacy strategies used by corporations as a validity and legitimacy claim in the reports. A content analysis has been conducted and structural coding schemes are developed based on the literature. The schemes are applied to the model of the SCT which recognises symbolic convergent processes of fantasy among communicators in a society. The study reveals that most of the sample companies communicate fantasy type and rhetorical vision in their corporate sustainability reporting. However, the disclosure or messages are different across locations and other taxonomies of SCT framework. This study contributes to the current CSR literature and how symbolic or fantasy understandings can be interpreted by the users. Also, it tells about the persuasion styles adopted by the companies for communication purposes. This study is the theoretical extensions of the SCT and researchers may be interested to further investigate other online communication path such as human rights report, director’s report.
The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. The Publisher's final version can be found by following the DOI link.
Citation : Hossain, M., Islam, T., Momin, M., Nahar, M. and Alam, M.S. (2018) Understanding Communication of Sustainability Reporting: Application of Symbolic Convergence Theory (SCT). Journal of Business Ethics,
ISSN : 0167-4544
Research Institute : Institute for Applied Economics and Social Value (IAESV)
Peer Reviewed : Yes