Exploring the contributions of corporate social investment to the company’s corporate image and reputation: a case study of a petrochemical company

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Ralehoko, Katleho
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Vaal University of Technology
Corporate Social Investment (CSI) has turned out to be a significant subject in the businesses environment in the past twenty years and is perceived as an important element of the organisational image and corporate reputation. Corporate social investment communication provides stakeholders with information about the company‟s involvement, and about being accountable to the society. Companies use their communication about CSI initiatives to project a positive image of themselves to the stakeholders. The purpose of the study was to explore how the company‟s Corporate Social Investment activities contribute to the company‟s image and corporate reputation among the local community. The study also looked at the possible gaps between the image projected by the company through their communication about CSI activities and the communities‟ perceptions of these activities. The researcher used a case study qualitative approach with multiple data sources. The company‟s online press releases were analysed with a view to determining the corporate image projected by the company. In the second stage three focus groups were conducted with community activists, university students, and unemployed community members in order to understand the different perceptions how CSI activities influence the community stakeholders perceptions on organisation‟s reputation. The findings indicate that although there is a gap between the projected image communicated by a company and stakeholders‟ perceptions about company‟s reputation the community is generally familiar with CSI of the petrochemical company in question and that CSI activities contribute to the positive reputation of the company. Furthermore, the findings highlight the challenges of not including community stakeholders in decision making when creating CSI initiatives. Interestingly, the study reveals that organisations with CSI activities aligned to the national framework are considered socially responsible.
M. Tech. (Public Relations Management, Faculty of Human Sciences), Vaal University of Technology
Corporate image, Corporate social investment, Corporate activity, Reputation, Community relations