A critical analysis of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) theory and practices was given by Professor Tom Watson of the Media School in his keynote speech at the 4th Middle East Public Relations Symposium in Dubai.
The symposium, held on March 19-20 at Zayed University, brought together academics from the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Lebanon and Qatar with leading practitioners from the UAE’s semi-governmental bodies and regional and international PR agencies.
In his address, Prof Watson launched a CSR checklist developed from research and recent literature.
“CSR is increasingly part of the language and practices of business and communicators, but it has been moving away from the moral philosophies and attitudes that formed it,” he said. “Often ‘CSR’ is seen as a method for gaining business advantage rather than participation in society. The checklist has been written to assist managers and communicators develop meaningful and effective CSR strategies and actions.”
Research into employee engagement with CSR that Prof Watson is conducting with Dr Tasos Theofilou and Dr Georgiana Grigore of the Media School strongly influenced the checklist’s preparation. Their research is supported by the Arthur W. Page Center at Penn State University and the Public Relations Research Group.
Platform for future research
“A relationship between BU and Zayed University has developed over the past four years. It offers a platform for future collaborative research into CSR and other communication issues,” Prof Watson said.
During his visit, he met Zayed’s Dean of the College of Communication and Media Sciences, Prof Marilyn Robinson, and Associate Dean, Dr Gaelle Duthler, and staff at its Abu Dhabi and Dubai campuses. His visit was sponsored by Zayed University as host of the MEPRA Symposium.
Prof Watson also chaired a Symposium panel on crisis communication in which experts discussed communication management of the missing MH370 aircraft crisis.