How virtual corporate social responsibility dialogs generate value: A framework and propositions
Web-based social media have assumed unprecedented importance in today's world, dramatically changing the way individuals interact with companies and each other. Companies are rapidly expanding their use of social media, and many companies are now entering into what we call “virtual CSR dialogs,” where social media technologies are leveraged so that stakeholders can design and implement corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities with the company. But little is known about how such dialogs function, and there is a pressing need for theoretical frameworks that can deepen our understanding of how and when these dialogs generate value for both the company and society. This paper presents a framework that explains how stakeholders interpret and respond to virtual CSR dialogs. The framework reveals that virtual CSR dialogs generate value based on (a) the extent to which stakeholders identify with the community of dialog participants, and (b) the heightened expectations that stakeholders develop. It also outlines the key characteristics that influence the value generating capacity of virtual CSR dialogs. As a result, this paper highlights both the benefits and risks of initiating virtual CSR dialogs.
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