Date of Award

Summer 2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Fyke, Jeremy

Second Advisor

Feldner, Sarah B.

Third Advisor

Uysal, Nur


This study offered a unique opportunity to explore, more deeply, the internal dimension of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) through the perspective of employees, specifically communication professionals. The primary focus was on how companies are communicating CSR internally through the work of communication professionals while then exploring how these individuals make sense of CSR and what it means within their organization. Therefore, data provided insight into how CSR is understood and made meaningful in an organizational context to see if these activities are really embedded into the culture rather than just promoted for good press seen externally. Notable findings of this study suggest that employees rely on both external communication through formal reporting as well as internal communication, through the halls and walls of their company, to understand CSR activities and tend to describe CSR in terms of what it means to and at their organization. Additionally, communication professionals define CSR strictly in terms of philanthropy or volunteerism. Further findings show that CSR is tribal, traditional and systemic to the organization’s culture. However, the study finds that CSR is seen as an obligation that never gets questioned or entirely explained, what I label as “voluntold,” and that these activities may be merely for good press due to their strictly philanthropic focus. Finally, CSR appears to lack rationale in an organizational setting—particularly problematic for those charged with communicating these efforts.