Corporate Social Responsibility: A Qualitative Analysis in the Mitigation of Crisis
Uhrick, Jan E.
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The purpose of this study was to understand how corporate social responsibility can be utilized in the event of a crisis. In this qualitative study, issues management theory and the situational crisis communication theory provided a theoretical framework that incorporate corporate social responsibility in order to determine to what extent public relations practitioners conduct issues monitoring, how they define CSR, how CSR initiatives emerge, how the results of issues management are incorporated into crisis communication, and how practitioners relate CSR and crisis communication. The study used qualitative one-on-one and dyad, in-depth interviews with public relations practitioners who had experience with CSR and/or crisis communication across various industries. Findings suggest that practitioners feel a strong relationship exists between CSR and crisis communication, and this connection can be a response of crisis communication’s incorporation of the results from issues management. Practitioners had multiple definitions of CSR, but through these definitions, it was possible to determine how CSR initiatives emerge. This study expanded upon the situational crisis communication theory as well as issues management theory. Practical implications include opportunities for practitioners to be able to turn an organization’s crisis into a potential opportunity for the organization while mitigating reputational and monetary damage.