Euphemisms and hypocrisy in corporate philanthropy

Business Ethics, the Environment and Responsibility 20 (3):267-279 (2011)
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Over the past two decades, a growing number of large multinational corporations have come to view philanthropy as an important part of their business operations. This has stimulated research on the many different strategies that are pursued by these corporations in their attempts to become more philanthropic while remaining economically responsible. In this situation, some researchers have argued, corporations run the risk of being caught out as hypocrites. Through an analysis of the corporate social responsibility reports of the biggest multinational corporations, this article shows how the risk of hypocrisy is managed communicatively through the use of euphemisms. The article argues that the use of euphemisms makes it possible to communicate both economically and philanthropically without manifest contradictions. Euphemisms, however, are also risky in their own right



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