Communicating CSR for legitimacy: A comparison between service and product companies

Agostino Vollero, Maria Palazzo, Alfonso Siano, Domenico Sardanelli


Purpose. The study proposes a comparative analysis of the CSR rhetorical strategies and associated legitimacy approaches between service and product companies.

Methodology. In order to categorize different CSR rhetoric strategies, a content analysis on websites of companies included in Dow Jones Sustainability World Index (DJSI) was carried out.

Findings. Findings show that product companies are more active in communicating CSR in two out of three of identified rhetorical strategies.

Practical implications. The study sheds light on the different legitimacy approaches elicited by online CSR communication and gives practical indications to managers, taking into account the ascertained differences that characterised the selected categories of companies.

Originality/value. The paper shows that belonging to service industry influences the seeking of legitimacy and suggests new research directions into CSR management in service sector.


legitimacy; CSR communication; rhetorical strategies; content analysis; service industry

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