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Title: Strategic ambiguity in corporate sustainability communications
Author: Scandelius, Christina
ISNI:       0000 0004 5914 6987
Awarding Body: Brunel University London
Current Institution: Brunel University
Date of Award: 2014
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Purpose: The aim of this thesis is to develop a better understanding on how businesses should communicate their sustainability strategy to their stakeholders. Businesses are facing the challenge of designing sustainability communications strategies that appeal to stakeholders of various interest and knowledge on the topic, and stakeholders whose objectives might even be contradictory to that of the company. In order to facilitate the communications process to encourage a better uptake of sustainability initiatives by corporations and the public, it is essential to find solutions to these communications challenges. Methodology: The study focuses on the food and drink value chain in Western Europe and is based on empirical evidence from a multiple case study methodology involving in-depth interviews with 25 senior managers and directors from food and drink manufacturing companies, retailers, and some of their stakeholders. Findings: A framework for corporate sustainability communications is developed, depicting five communications strategies. The framework also offers an insight how stakeholders can be categorised into the most appropriate communications strategy through the application of certain segmentation attributes. It is further illustrated how the application of strategic ambiguity can add value to the communications process in order to stimulate interest, initiatives and innovation from stakeholders. Theoretical and practical implications/originality: Previous research on corporate communications strategies, has seen limited empirical validation, is primarily focussed on consumers, and more importantly is lacking in advice regarding how to craft communications that not only appeal to a multitude of stakeholders, but that also encourage collaboration. The findings therefore add confirmation and extension to the previous research and, importantly, it provides a link between theories of strategic ambiguity and the corporate communications literature. The framework also offers practical value as it provides managers with a clear guidance on how to design effective corporate sustainability communications, ensuring diverse appeal and/or engagement for collaboration. Thus it provides a tool that has the potential of facilitating holistic sustainability progress in a value chain.
Supervisor: Cohen, G. Sponsor: Brunel Business School
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Corporate communications ; CSR (Corporate social responsibility) ; Business to business ; Lifecycle management ; Public relations