Aspirational Talk in Strategy Texts: A Longitudinal Case Study of Strategic Episodes in Corporate Social Responsibility Communication

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This article examines the embeddedness of corporate social responsibility (CSR) communications in strategic planning. By drawing on the idea that talk and texts about CSR are an essential part of responsibility practices, I study how CSR aspirations—responsibility-related organizational self-descriptions, goals, and ideals that the organization cannot yet live up to or that the organizational constituents deem necessary to maintain—are intertwined with strategy texts and strategic episodes. Conducting a qualitative case study on a series of biennial strategy processes over a 20-year period, I show how CSR aspirations are established in authoritative strategy documents during stakeholder interactions, elaborated in consecutive strategic episodes, extended to new business areas, and evaluated in subsequent communications. These findings contribute to the CSR and strategy literature by showing how (a) aspirational talk can be established and perpetuated through recurrent communicative processes, (b) stakeholder engagement in CSR issues can influence strategy texts and how strategy texts become a part of intertextual organizational communications, and (c) strategic context can be conducive to progressive performativity.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-97
JournalBusiness and Society
Issue number1
Early online date30 Jan 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

    Research areas

  • aspirational talk, CSR, organizational communication, strategy, time

ID: 39597645