CSR communication in oil industry advertisements: a historical analysis

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School of Business | Master's thesis
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Degree programme
The objective of the thesis is to examine Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) communication in oil industry advertisements in the years between 1985 and 2015. The study aims to answer following research question: How is CSR communicated in oil company advertisements in the years from 1985 to 2015? The subquestions for the research are following: 1) What kind of trends are there in CSR advertising? 2) How has CSR advertising changed over time? Due to the nature of the research question and the objective of the study, the methodology chosen for the thesis is qualitative research, while the research approach is semiotics. The study was conducted by examining 62 CSR print advertisements published by three oil companies in The National Geographic magazine in the years from 1985 to 2015. The theoretical framework of the thesis is based on previous literature on CSR, CSR communication and advertising, and CSR in oil industry. In evaluating the change in CSR communication of oil company advertisements from 1985 to 2015, the study resulted in four themes from interpretation of the data: (1) Partnership (2) Future (3) Stakeholder involvement (4) Shift in responsibility view. Together these findings suggest a common trend of a changed responsibility view, in which the responsibility of the companies has shifted towards a shared responsibility between companies and the society. The findings are supported by general trends arising from CSR literature.
Thesis advisor
Sihvonen, Antti
CSR, corporate social responsibility, CSR communication, CSR advertising
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