This case study describes how a company embarked on improving its image to its customer base. The company formed a community of practice amongst its employees, with the goal of developing a positive image of the company, by highlighting the company’s positive impact on the community and environment. The company also set aside a budget for donations to nominated sustainability charities. Part of this initiative was a social media launch and a campaign to highlight the company’s support for various sustainability charities. This plan had been received very positively by its executive team, because of the projected increased brand exposure. Many employees also expressed their support for the proposals for this social media release, and they even proposed ways of measuring the impact of the social media campaign, and potential market gain.
However, some employees within the company had personal reservations about this campaign. Although they were asked to provide their comments, employees were careful not to say anything, as this campaign had gained widespread traction amongst high-level executives. As a consequence, there were internal conflicts. Some employees decided that they had had no opportunity to voice their concerns, and they resigned from the company. Other employees were not so fortunate and could not find other employment. These employees remained quiet, but felt they were disempowered and unable to voice their opinions. These employees felt socially isolated.
As it turned out, the company was heavily criticised on social media at the launch of the campaign. Members of the public flooded the company’s social media page with complaints about the company’s instrumental approach toward corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability. They felt the company was being disrespectful towards the charity, and accused the company of being hypocritical in their intentions and caring only about the image of the company. The company was accused of using charities to increase their market share. This vitriolic attack came as a surprise, and the company did not have any plan to respond. The company shut down its social media page and withdrew from the campaign.
You have been engaged by the company to do a study on this failed campaign and to write a report. The purpose of this is to enable the company to learn from what occurred, and for its future proposals to avoid this situation.
Prepare a report, to your executives. Your report should be 2500 words maximum, excluding references and appendices, and should cover the following issues and include the following components:
- Drawing on the Neohumanist and Radical Structuralist perspectives, highlight some of the points of view that the company may not have considered in its campaign.
- Using Neohumanism and Radical Structuralism, as the two conflict-based perspectives, explain why:
- There might be conflicting perspectives amongst the members of the company; and
- The backlash from the public against this marketing campaign was predictable.
- Propose a risk management framework that the executives can use when considering future projects at planning stage. Your risk management framework should be informed by the perspectives of Neohumanism and Radical Structuralism. These two perspectives – as the conflict and radical change perspectives – give you purchase on understanding where agitation for change might come from, and for what reasons.
- Develop a set of questions that the executives (and other project teams) might ask themselves in the future, to anticipate and avoid similar situations. Use the Radical Structuralist and Neo-humanist perspectives to develop these questions.
- Demonstrate your ability to research these issues through the identification of at least 7 journal articles to support your work. You will need to research, at the least, the risk management literature, and the corporate social responsibility / sustainability literature.
- In addition to your 7 articles that you find, you must engage with the following texts, which will be excluded from your reference list count. In total, therefore, you will be citing 11 references, as a minimum. Two of the texts below concern sustainability and contain useful concepts for this assignment, such as legitimacy, and hypocrisy. You may then spider web out from these papers, to identify other potential papers to support your work:
- Hirschheim, R. & Klein, H. K. (1989). Four paradigms of information systems development. Communications of the ACM, Vol. 32(10): 1199-1216. THIS IS YOUR KEY THEORETICAL TEXT AND MUST BE DRAWN ON EXTENSIVELY TO INFORM YOUR WORK.
- Burrell, G & Morgan, G 1979, Sociological paradigms and organisational analysis, Routledge, USA. (Part 1, Chapters 1–3, pp. 1–37): Burrell & Morgan, Sociological paradigms and organisational analysis
- Cho, C.H., Laine, M., Roberts, R.W., & Rodrigue, M. (2015). Organized hypocrisy, organizational façades, and sustainability reporting, Accounting, Organizations and Society, 40: 78-94.
- Atkins, J., Atkins, B.C., Thomson, I., Maroun, W. (2015). “Good” news from nowhere: Imagining utopian sustainable accounting, Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, 28(5): 651-670.
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