Originally found at Phys.org
When firms make their environmental policies public, they can get favorable media coverage only if their narrative carefully articulates signals of conformity (actions aimed at complying with existing norms) and distinctiveness (the adoption of a recognizably uncommon behavior).
A paper by Anne Jacqueminet of Bocconi's Department of Management and Technology, Emanuele Bettinazzi of USI (Università della Svizzera Italiana, Switzerland), Kerstin Neumann of Innsbruck University and Peter Snoeren of the University of Amsterdam proposes a framework that seeks to explain which combinations of signals can generate positive coverage and which ones fail to.
Striking a balance between these two characteristics is therefore essential in order to be perceived by the media as convincingly committed to environmentally sound policies, but it can also prove quite challenging. The authors have identified three different types of signals on a scale of increasing credibility that hint at conformity and three that hint at distinctiveness.
The former grouping (conformity signals) includes donations, associations, and certifications. The latter (distinctiveness signals) includes transformative actions (i.e., changes in products, processes, and structures aimed at reducing a firm's environmental footprint), inter-firm partnerships, and ratings. Their varied credibility is a consequence of their nature: the first and least credible element in each grouping is generated by the firm itself, the second by associating with other actors and the third and most credible is provided by external parties.
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