Exploring strategic CSR communication on UAE banks' corporate websites

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Corporate Communications


© 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited. Purpose: Communicating CSR through corporate websites is one of the most effective ways for organizations to inform and engage stakeholders, earn legitimacy and reap the intangible and tangible benefits of practicing CSR. However, in emerging economies in the Middle East, online CSR disclosure remains limited while corporate websites are not used effectively as strategic tools. This study explores online CSR communication (CSRC) by banks in the dynamic, emerging economy of the United Arab Emirates. Design/methodology/approach: The study uses an adaptation of the analytical framework used by Chaudhri and Wang (2007) to examine the prominence and extent of the CSR information on the corporate websites of domestic and global banks in the UAE. It further compares domestic and global banks' CSRC patterns as well as domestic/government-owned versus private banks and conventional versus Islamic banks. Findings: About 70% of the domestic banks in the UAE provide information about their CSR activities. CSR information is moderately to highly prominent for the majority of the domestic banks, but the extent of the information presented is minimal (1–2 pages). Domestic/government-owned and conventional banks communicate their CSR more prominently and extensively than private and Islamic banks. Domestic/government-owned banks tend to follow the CSRC patterns observed in global banks. Originality/value: Despite the increasingly important role of the United Arab Emirates within the Middle East as well as on the global business arena, very little is known about whether and how companies in the country approach CSR. This is the first study focusing on CSRC within the entirety of a single business sector within the United Arab Emirates.

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