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Forming and Communication of an Environmental Identity and Image: The Case of Riksbyggen

Stakeholder demands on corporations to take environmental responsibilities are increasing and an environmentally responsible image could add values such as competitive advantage and a better reputation.

To create a favorable image the corporation needs to develop a strong and sincere environmental identity that involves the whole organization. The identity is the way that the organization perceives itself and its self-expression and an environmental identity is one of the multiple identities that an organization can have.

Communication is important both internally for establishing the identity and externally to create an environmentally responsible image. The organizational members need to be informed and involved in the responsibilities that the corporation is taken to be able to communicate them further to important external stakeholder groups. This thesis connects theories on corporate and organizational identities with organizational communication, culture and image to explain how the environmental identity and image is constructed.

A case study has been conducted on a large Swedish company in the building and property management industry, Riksbyggen. The empirical material has mainly been gathered from interviews and also from participant observations. Nineteen employees and one consultant involved in the environmental communication process were interviewed individually or in focus group.

The results showed that the case study organization had created a strong corporate environmental identity with clear visions and symbolic representations. However, the organizational environmental identity where the organizational members identify with the environmental activities was not yet developed fully. One reason behind this is the lack of dialogue opportunities in the organization, which means that the corporate identity is communicated from a top-down perspective. An environmentally responsible image was not established at organizational level either, even if some local initiatives had been successful.
Source: Södertörn University
Authors: Adamsson, Emelie

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