Should business have ‘a sense of morality’? Company director views on corporate engagement with socio-political issues

Jordan Tutton, Vivienne Brand

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract


Increasingly, companies are expected to engage with, or be responsive to, their publics to achieve social acceptance or to be perceived as legitimate. The expectation manifests, in part, through beliefs that companies should engage with socio-political issues. This important component of public relations practice is examined through a qualitative analysis of interviews undertaken with 23 experienced Australian company directors. The empirical research identifies and explores a tension between the contemporary corporation as an amoral agent while also increasingly responsive to pressures introduced by external expectations, reflected in growing attention to the concept of social licence to operate. When resolving to engage with socio-political issues, directors were predominantly motivated by the company’s best interests and ‘good business’. This necessitated identifying issues relevant to key stakeholders and issues that tied to corporate purpose, identity or knowledge. However, some evidence is apparent of director willingness to engage with issues not directly related to core business or corporate purpose. This may reflect support for an enhanced social licence to operate or even in pursuit of wider societal legitimacy-building, pointing the way to potential future increases in corporate social engagement.
Original languageEnglish
Article number102278
Number of pages13
JournalPublic Relations Review
Volume49
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2023

Keywords

  • Public relations
  • Social license to operate (SLO)
  • Corporate advocacy
  • Socio-political issues
  • Board of directors
  • Qualitative research

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