Responsible Business in the Blogosphere
The Danish Council for Strategic Research has awarded 12 million kroner to a new research project on CSR and online communication. Professor Mette Morsing, Director of CBS Center for Corporate Social Responsibility, will lead the project, which will be conducted in cooperation with The Technical University of Denmark.
The new research project “Responsible Business in the Blogosphere” holds the official title: “Measurement Systems for Ethical Capital in the Experience Economy: Socio-Economic Value of Online Communication”.
The purpose of the 3-year research project will be to investigate how corporate reputations as “responsible business” are constructed online in virtual social networks. The research project will analyze the socio-economic value of such virtual construction of “responsible business”, i.e. perceptions of corporate economic, social and environmental responsibility – what is referred to as ethical capital. The project will develop new measurement methods that take into account the creation and influence of collective online-user’s opinions about companies that affects corporate value creation.
Achieving a reputation as a “responsible business” is a key managerial concern of value creation. Increasingly, the creation of such corporate reputations emerges online in virtual networks and communities that allows for the complexity of viral dynamics, interactivity and co-production of messages and opinions. The Forrester research report documents how Web 2.0 tools like widgets, Wikis, and Blogs are growing faster than ever and are expected to grow even faster in the immediate future vis a vis offline communication.
For example, Apple did not predict that consumers would mount a ‘Green My Macintosh’ online supported campaign demanding that the company lives up to values linked to environmental sustainability that it never claimed to have in the first place. In the same way, Arla Foods did not foresee the melamin-scandal in their Chinese joint venture and was unprepared to meet the crisis although bloggers online had debated and warned about melamin in Chinese milk products in the weeks before the crisis became public. The dynamics of online communication becomes a powerful and autonomous source of reputation and value creation for companies. But it is also an unpredictable and not easily or unilaterally managed source.
Our hypothesis is that processes of online communication, though autonomous, are not necessarily unpredictable. We hypothesize that they do exhibit regular patterns, and that, by using techniques of socio-economic case studies, linguistic analysis, data-mining and mathematical modeling, it is possible to uncover hidden regularities thus developing a novel measurement of the value of online communication in developing ethical capital.
In charge of the research project is Professor Mette Morsing, cbsCSR, who will conduct the project in collaboration with Associate Professors Adam Arvidsson (IKL & University of Milan) and Professor Lars Kai Hansen and Associate Professor Finn Årup Nielsen from The Technical University of Denmark. Two Post. Docs and four PhD students will also join the project.