Artigo IAMCR em inglês

Embed Size (px)

Citation preview

  • 8/7/2019 Artigo IAMCR em ingls


    The importance of organizational communication to the spread and understanding of

    sustainability concept

    Raquel Evangelista Lobo and Renata Suely de Freitas

    PhD Students - University of Minho


    Based on a theoretical perspective of communication and organizational culture of authors

    like Putnam (2004), Eisenberg (1997) and Elkington (1992), this paper aims to analyze the

    production of organizational communication from its initiatives about sustainability. In order to do

    so, was adopted a concept recognized by the World Commission on Environment and Development,

    in 1987, which understand sustainability as a way of development that "meets the needs of the

    present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs".

    The work starts from theoretical concepts on themes that direct organizational

    communication and that extends to a comparative case study of a group of Portuguese companies in

    the food business. In this sense the applied methodology is based on the collection of official data

    with this group of companies, as well as describing and interpreting (1) the means of

    communication and the strategies chosen to communicate about sustainability with their target

    audience, (2) the evaluation system adopted by these companies to verify the efficiency of these

    means, (3) the entrepreneurial vision about the importance of the means of communication in the

    context of sustainability.

    It intends to verify if these Portuguese companies know how to explore the communicative

    potential of these means, if they have difficulties in systematically evaluating the efficiency of the

    communication process and, finally, if there is an awareness of the importance of an integrated

    organizational communication and the differential of sustainability as a competitive advantage, and

    consequently as a communication strategy. The objectives of the paper are to join classical and

    modern concepts of organizational communication and investigate how information onsustainability is used with the following stakeholders: employees, shareholders and consumers.

    It is possible to state that connections between organizational communication and

    sustainability constitute a theme of interest to the academic community and to civil society. The

    changes required to the social context in order for a practical application of the concept of

    sustainability belongs to a cultural order, of values and habits, of practices and symbolic

    representation. As communication is the key factor in the constitution of a meaning and the

    construction and deconstruction of society and its social movements it is important to have a

    theoretical discussion of the theme.

    Key-words: organizational communication, sustainability, competitive advantage

  • 8/7/2019 Artigo IAMCR em ingls



    The main theme of this article is Organzational Communication within Sustainability

    context. The purpose is to investigate how the sustainability issue is developed by organizations and

    how it is transmitted to stakeholders: employees, shareholders and customers. The accessibility to

    their yearly sustainability reports and the possibility of granting interviews and clarify possible

    questions lead us to choose the following organizations most active in the Portuguese food market:

    Danone, Delta Cafs, Nestle Portugal, and Sumolis Lactogal. Another reason for this choice was the

    easy access to their annual sustainability reports and the opportunities we had to interview


    We questioned which means of communication those Portuguese companies have been

    using to communicate their actions about sustainability. To answer those questions we choose aqualitative methodology composed by questionnaires and interviews. Our intention was to verify if

    companies privilege some means of communication which are considered more efficient and also if

    there is any type of relationship between the financial growth and that communication directed to


    There has been some discussion in the academic and professional fields related to

    Organizational Communication about how companies can act in a socially and environmentally

    responsible manner. By having posture and activities related to Sustainability, companies can

    contribute to the well-being while their economic growth is stimulated. Explain its position

    committed to Sustainability to internal and external customers make companies values and their

    organizational culture be strengthened.

    From this perspective, this work will begin by reflecting on the evolution of Organizational

    Communication concept and its importance to the Communication Sciences field. Then we will

    conduct presentations about Sustainability and its reporting, which is our main research topic in this

    article. To complement the theory with empirical analysis, we will conduct a case study that

    involves Portuguese organizations that invest in Sustainability. In this study, and for conceptual

    purposes, it is understood that the yearly sustainability reports are a set of accounting statements

    with economic and financial character, which main aim is to bring to the attention of society as

    much information as possible about the company's commitment to Sustainability, in other words, it

    is a company's accountability to society.

    Our main goal is to bring results about companies that invest in sustainability in Portugal

    and contribute with relevant information to the food market and for scientific research in the area of

    Organizational Communication and Sustainability.

    Organizational Communication

  • 8/7/2019 Artigo IAMCR em ingls


    In the last decades, organizations have taken positions of more visible interaction with

    contemporary society, and its communicational methodology has advanced from a technique

    function to a strategic role in the corporate reality. To define the scope of Organizational

    Communication coverage and reflect about its daily social influence have been the work of

    professionals related to scientific research and the labor market area. Thus, the best way to

    understand scientific thinking around Organizational Communication is to identify which

    theoretical thoughts contributed to its current understanding and emphasized its importance to the

    academic community.

    Currently, the Organizational Communication emerged as an interdisciplinary subject which

    reviews the concepts of Sociology, Management and Marketing, Psychology and Philosophy,

    among others, and establishes itself as an independent discipline. This autonomy is being made

    possible through continuous discussions and researches published in the area, and thanks toprofessionals who are dedicated to the subject, helping Organizational Communication to stand out

    within the large field of Communication Sciences. To better understand the events that contributed

    to the Organizational Communication concepts growth, it is necessary an overview of theoretical


    The first Organizational Communication studies published were developed in the United

    States in the 40s, during the evolution of the disciplines Business Discourse and Industrial

    Communication (unfolding since 1930) and under the influence of Mass Communication Research.

    Many of the north-american ideas are rooted in functionalist and objective strands that give more

    emphasis to the processes of the internal organizational environment, although recently there has

    been produced works which consider the importance of external phenomena and critical and

    interpretative studies.

    To illustrate the north-American theoretical line of thinking will be exposed the views of

    Kreps (1900), Eisenberg and Goodall (1997), Daniels, Skiper and Papa (1997) and Putnam, Phillips

    and Chapman (2004). Kreps (1900) brings to academic field the discussion about the importance of

    internal messages of Organizational Communication those which inform goals, objectives, tasks

    and help the operational climate of the organization. The same author is concerned with the fact that

    internal messages are considered the main sources of information for members involved with it.

    The group of researchers Eisenberg and Goodall (1997) propose a more complex set of

    models for Organizational Communication, according to the nature of information processes. The

    model of information transmission, for example, explains the process of linear sender and receiver

    of the message, where the receiver is passive and receives information and organizational meanings

    of the issuer. The transactional process establishes that the receiver can construct meanings when

    information is received. The model of control strategy is precisely to control the organizational

  • 8/7/2019 Artigo IAMCR em ingls


    environment, the model of balance between creativity and constraint / coercion / subject believes

    the Organizational Communication can mediate tensions, balancing creativity with responsibility.

    Finally, the model of space for dialogue produces a hopeful balance in the communication process,

    giving voice to all members of the organization.

    Other models were proposed by Daniels, Skiper and Papa (1997), who believe that the

    complexity of Organizational Communication can be explained in three ways: (1) traditional, which

    considers the communication as machine or as dynamic system; (2) interpretive model, which sees

    the organizational reality as social construction and the (3) critical model, that serves the interests

    from administrative hierarchy and also is an instrument of oppression.

    Lastly, we highlight Putnam, Phillips and Chapman (2004) for their most recent and

    comprehensive studies on Organizational Communication. Their models of explanation are based

    on the metaphors "conduct", "lens", "link", "performance", "symbol", "voice" and "discourse" toarrange lines of thoughts about the communication processes in organizations, as shown in table:


    Fig.1 summary-table of Organizational Communication approach, according to Putnam, Phillips e Chapman (2004)

    The metaphorical model of behavior considers communication as a transmitter of

    information, like a simplified channel or container. In the model of the lens, the organization filters

    the communication, monitor the environment and create network connections. On the other hand,

    the link model conceives communication as a link that connects individuals and also it would create

    networks of contacts. The performance model encourages social interaction by communication;

    symbol model promotes the interpretation of literary forms through communication. Regarding the

    voice model, it is possible to say that it considers communication as the expression and organization

    would be something like a chorus of voices. Finally, the discourse model proposes that

  • 8/7/2019 Artigo IAMCR em ingls


    communication is a conversation among internal and external members. It is possible to realize that

    these models, whose names are metaphorical, are not mutually exclusive applications and can be

    crossed to achieve organizational objectives.

    In Canada, the Montreal School of Communication stands out with its interpretive theories

    under the influence of Garfinkel, Goffman, Berger and Luckmann. The biggest highlight is James

    Taylor (2008), which argues that communication and organization are equivalent, without

    hierarchies of power, and that the conversation allows communication experiences to have a

    meaning. Thus, organization would be self-productive and communication would happen naturally

    inside of it, although construction of meaning depends on the vision of the observer.

    In addition to the north-american researches on Organizational Communication, should also

    be noted that some reflective scientific productions that contributed to the understanding of the

    communication process in organizations were developed in Europe. These works have beenproduced by researchers in Germany, Belgium, Holland, France, and more recently, Spain and

    Portugal. In general, the theoretical thinking about Organizational Communication in Europe is

    more analytical and more flexible with the information hierarchy than studies produced in the

    United States. The Critical Theory from Frankfurt School, for example, emphasis on

    communication with the external environment, even to criticize this communication as a negative

    result of the capitalist system, since after World War IImany companies were affected by the model

    of rational management from the United States.

    In France, the scientific thought of Humanities Sciences has been marked for decades by the

    plurality, diversity and critical skepticism, influenced by Pierre Bourdieu, Edgar Morin, Jean

    Baudrillard and Dominique Wolton. In the Iberian region, questions of identity and corporate image

    stand out. These are studied topics for empirical application in organizations in order to help them

    to consolidate their position in the market they act. In Spain, with recently highlighted studies, it is

    possible to find a more comprehensive and modern view of Organizational Communication, which

    is considered a strategy of action and a dynamic activity. Portugal is still firming itself in the

    production of researches, with the creation of studying groups at universities and conferences.

    There is still the Latin American School of conceptual thinking of Organizational

    Communication, with emphasis on Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Colombia and Chile. Recent

    scientific research developed and edited books give a current emphasis on more pragmatic than

    theorical view. Most of it receive influences from Marketing and some organizational models from

    the United States, however also goes for a critical and interpretive understanding arising from

    European studies. In Brazil, the highlight is Margarida Kunsch, who has published researches about

    the history of Organizational Communication in that country.

    Once the theoretical perspectives and networks of the ideas that built the foundation for a

  • 8/7/2019 Artigo IAMCR em ingls


    school of thought on Organizational Communication were exposed here, it becomes necessary a

    presentation on sustainability, a concept that has been used in the communication process for some

    organizations leaders in the contemporary market and the theme that we intend to investigate

    empirically in the Portuguese organizational reality.

    Sustainability concepts evolution and models

    Sustainability is a broad concept with many meanings and synonyms: corporate social

    responsibility, corporate citizenship or corporate philanthropy, social marketing, social activism and

    business. Diverse and numerous terms refer to the set of actions taken by companies related to

    society and that exceed the sphere of its immediate and direct economic activity. Therefore it

    becomes important to clarify this concept, so we can define the most appropriate form to a common

    horizon of understanding about the references mentioned throughout this study.

    According to Ioschpe (2008: 137), the term Sustainable Development:

    arises from the environmental debate of the 60s and 70s decades and has been used to refer to the

    social problems of human developmental efforts in the long term. The idea that embases it is that the

    use of resources made today should not reduce real earnings in the future. Thus, the development is

    sustainable if it can bring to future generations a development level per capita equal to or higher than

    that achieved by the present generation.

    Initially, the concept of sustainability was linked to the issue of environmental preservation.

    A company was environmentally sustainable, if it practiced actions to develop and protect the

    environment. In this case "was basically synonymous with sustainable environment" (Neto and

    Froes, 2004: 180.) Therefore, it was a dimension of environmental management and not social.

    The idea of sustainability and eco-development was expressed and consolidated by Ignacy

    Sachs, chief of staff of the Secretariat General of the United Nations Organization,during the

    preparations for the Stockholm Conference in 1972. According to Hiom, eco-development would be

    "the socially desirable development, economically viable and environmentally prudent" (Sachs,

    1986: 113). In the 90s, the term sustainable development has gained notoriety, instead of eco-

    development, although this is also still used.

    However, this paradigm has changed. According to Neto and Froes (2004: 182) was:

    The emergence of social equity as a central issue. It entered the agenda, influenced by the notion

    that sustainable development required the harmonization of three elements: environmental

    protection, economic growth and social equity.

    Under this new model, a sustainable company is the one that operates in three dimensions:

    environmental protection, supporting and fostering economic development, whether local, regional

    or global, and encouragement and assurance of social equity. Therefore, companies must adopt and

    improve their management mechanisms.

  • 8/7/2019 Artigo IAMCR em ingls


    The report State of the World 2004, held by the Worldwatch Institute 1, emphasizes in an

    appropriate manner the need for a sustainable future, when it says in its submission that:

    It is imperative to improve the management and direction of natural and environmental

    resources. Equally important is to recognize that reducing environmental degradation,

    protecting human health, makes the land more productive and improves several other

    elements of economic and social progress (Iglesias, 2004: 34).

    The classic definition of sustainability is the one published in the report Our Common

    Future, prepared by the World Commission on Environment and Development in 1987, which says:

    "Sustainable development is the one that meets the needs of the present without compromising the

    ability of future generations to meet their own needs (CMMAD, 1987: 213).

    For Buarque (1996: 56), this formulation is "a response to problems and social inequalities

    that compromise the satisfaction of the needs of a significant portion of world population." It is also

    a response to the process of environmental degradation, generated by the dominant style ofeconomic growth, which tends to limit the opportunities of future generations.

    Currently, it is possible to identify different approaches to the concept of sustainability

    developed from the 90s decade, for example, The Natural Step (2000), Natural Capitalism (Hawken

    et al, 1999), Theory of Capital (Porritt, 2001; and Dyllick Hockerts, 2002) and Triple Bottom Line

    (Elkington Jhon, 1998). This last model is one of the most popular and has been subject to constant

    improvements since 1998, when it was first proposed. The Triple Bottom Line emphasizes two

    issues: the integration between the economic, social and environmental issues, and integration

    between the views of short and long term. On the first one, Elkington argues that the idea of

    economic sustainability as an isolated condition is not enough for the overall sustainability of a

    company. This reductionist view satisfies only the design of shorter-term concept. A long-term

    vision requires an interconnected system of multiple resonances, confirming the complexity of its

    approach. Regarding the issue of views in the short and long term, the author believes that the greed

    for immediate profit is quite opposite to sustainability, which requires the company to meet the

    needs of current and future generations without loss of any kind.


    1 Independent research organization about sustainable development, funded on 1974 in the USA.

  • 8/7/2019 Artigo IAMCR em ingls


    Fig.2 Sustainability concept, according to Eklington,J (2006).

    How to communicate Sustainability?

    Sustainability generates challenging changes in Organizational Communication. There is an

    agreement that actions, projects and programs in this area should be reinforced by strategies of

    communication, since it is through them that companies present themselves to all stakeholders. For

    that to happen it is important to create a specific placement related to each one of its audiences. To

    Ries and Trout (1997: 23), positioning is:

    an organized system that provides a window into the mind. This system is based on the

    principle that communication can only occur at the right time and in certain

    circumstances. And that is what socially responsible companies seek: a place in the lifeand mind of its publics, in which they are remembered as companies engaged in the social

    and environmental issues.

    Insofar as planning and execution of actions aimed at the incorporation of the

    sustainability`s concept in organizations, new business relationships and positions are established

    with the various stakeholders. It is essential to highlight the work of communication professionals

    in this new scenario of concern with social, environmental and ethical issues. Communicators have

    a strategic role within companies, ranging from planning and dissemination of social actions to the

    establishment of ethical standards in dealings with the public.

    There is a repositioning of identities, a reassessment of values and subjectivity, while

    organizational communication is applied in the context of sustainability. To promote dialogue with

    different social factors that make up its audience, organizations that adopt sustainable management

    models are organized in an informational network structure - which may be a key to explain its

    spread so quickly in today's networked society. Actors from different social positions and policies

    are interacting within this context.

    To track the changes in the capitalist way of production, organizations (especially private

    equity firms) make concrete and symbolic acts, with emphasis on social development. That is why

  • 8/7/2019 Artigo IAMCR em ingls


    sustainability announces itself as a social, economic, political, but primarily communicational

    phenomenon. By symbolically linking the environment around it, communication is legitimized as

    an articulator power beyond its traditional position of instrumental and emerges as a central

    dimension of practice.

    By admitting the centrality of Organizational Communication to incorporate the concept of

    sustainability, immediately we are faced with some challenges in the path in the search of an

    effective communication. The first would be to keep a constant monitoring and to promote social

    audits to evaluate scenarios, listen to public opinion and understand the demands and expectations

    of the public. It is through a set of well-planned and systematic evaluations that managers can

    achieve results on the effectiveness of the media used or how messages are sent to different

    stakeholders, for example.

    Another challenge that deserves to be highlighted is the adoption of communication policiesthat are marked by ethics and transparency in their communicative actions. Typically, the

    stakeholders have different notions of what is an ethical behavior. Therefore, it is essential that

    organizations clarify what are their ethical standards and communicate it as transparent as possible

    to its various publics. The sustainability reporting includes in itself the management of information

    flow internally and externally in a clear and objective way, independent of the theme or the

    consequences it might generate.

    Once those challenges are overcome, it is assumed that organizations reach a certain level of

    efficiency and begin to realize that sustainability reporting, through organizational media and plans,

    becomes a competitive advantage. It is possible to identify three distinct moments in which this

    relationship becomes more evident. The first is when communication takes scientific basis for

    strategic planning, it means, the nature of strategy is reinforced by the results of research, studies

    and reports done by specialists. The second time is when the organizational discourse demonstrates

    a public commitment to corporate citizenship and encourages respect for individual rights and

    social issues. The third would be when there is an aggregation of real value to organizations and to

    societys sustainability. In these three situations, the Organizational Communication becomes more

    valuable, either financially or in recognition by customers, or in setting their mark, or in terms of


    Sustainability constantly uses Organizational Communication strategies and collaborates to

    the construction of a positive organizational image. It focuses on the internal and external

    communications actions and has generated significant returns, both in integration and employee

    motivation or increase in sales volume. According to Bueno (2003: 119):

    Business communication is a neuralgic component of the whole management processfocused on social responsibility. She summarizes and explains the organization's

  • 8/7/2019 Artigo IAMCR em ingls


    commitment to society and stakeholders adds fundamental value to the business and

    contributes decisively to the formation of a good public image.

    To investigate empirically how communication about sustainability is developed in a sample

    of organizations from the Portuguese market, it follows the research methodology and results of the

    case study.


    To answer the questions initially proposed (how organizations treat the concept of

    sustainability in everyday business), sequential methods were used to define the universe of the

    sample, the instrument of data collection, field research, analysis and interpretation of results. It

    began with an exploratory, also called desk research, which has informality and creativity as main

    characteristics and in which a first contact situation to be searched is obtained. We also used the

    descriptive method of research called ad-hoc, which seeks to describe situations in which

    sustainability practices occur.

    Then the techniques of content analysis of interviews and documents were selected:

    qualitative research, survey and questionnaire, in the quantitative side. The instruments used were

    questionnaire arrays and a question guide for interviews, which was specially designed for this


    At first, the research strategy consisted in making a judicious survey about the number of

    companies which are operating in the Portuguese market in order to identify only those that develop

    some kind of social action in the country. They universe of this survey was composed by 110

    companies, which are associated to BCSD. The next step was the formation of the survey sample in

    order to make the group of companies more consistent with the proposed analysis.

    We adopted three criteria for the companies selection. The first is the daily presence in

    society. We tried to study market segments that are recognized by the public and whose products or

    services are used every day. The second criterion is the level of environmental impact generated

    from the production and sale of products. And finally, the third condition is the ease ofcommunication with managers and directors. After applying the exclusion criteria, ten companies

    linked to food businesses were selected to form the sample of this research: Danone, Delta Cafs,

    Nestle Portugal, and Sumolis Lactogal.

    Questionnaires were given to these five companies and some interviews were conducted

    with the directors of Sair da Casca and with the secretary general of BCSD Portugal 2. The data

    presented below arise as a result of questionnaires and interviews, information gathered from

    company websites and sustainability reports published in 2007, which data refer the performance of

    those companies during the fiscal year of 2006. In general, it is possible to say that the results are

    2 Businesses Council for Sustainable Development.

  • 8/7/2019 Artigo IAMCR em ingls


    very similar, although some companies have different strategic directions.

    Results discussions

    In order to answer the hypotheses initially proposed here, we chose to address the issue of

    media used according to three important stakeholders for business: customers, employees and

    shareholders. When asked about what would be the most appropriate means of contact for each

    public, interviewers had 15 means of communication as answers options. The results indicated



    Media Stakeholders Efficiency (%)

    Mail Customers 60.0%

    E-mail Customers Employees Shareholders 80.0%

    Intranet Employees Shareholders 85.0%Site Customers Employees Shareholders 90.0%

    Warning tables Employees Shareholders 80.0%

    Informatives Employees Shareholders 80.0%

    Internal magazines and

    newspapers Employees Shareholders 90.0%

    Sustainability Reports Employees Shareholders 65.0%

    Meetings in company Employees Shareholders 95.0%

    Audio and visual means Employees 50.0%

    Itsown Telephonic line Customers 80.0%

    Institutional Publicity

    in the media Customers 75.0%

    Product Pack Customers 50.0%

    Services Points Customers 80.0%

    Promotional Actions Customers 90.0%

    Fig.3 Means of organizational communication used in Portuguese companies in the food market and its efficiency.

    The result indicates that only e-mail and websites were reported as efficient means of

    communication for all the three stakeholders. For customers, because it is an external audience,

    there is a predominant use of resources outside the environment of the company itself, such as

    telephone line and institutional advertising in the media. In the case of employees and shareholders,

    they emphasized the domestic media, such as intranet and meetings in the company.

    Regarding the efficiency of each mean of communication, results show that website, internal

    magazines and newspapers, meetings in company and promotional actions are considered the most

    efficient by directors and managers. On the other hand, audio and visual means and products wraps

    are considered the less efficient. When requested, companies answered that television and radio are

    means with a low level of attraction, because messages are often sent during lunch time or when

  • 8/7/2019 Artigo IAMCR em ingls


    employees are leaving their work and in these occasions they don not give so much attention to

    companys message.

    It is known that the most appropriate choice of media depends on the size of business and

    on the industry where the company operates. The issue of transparency in the act of communication

    and the use of various meansfor this are mentioned clearly in the sustainability reports from our

    sample. Nestl's concern with transparent communication, for example, is represented in its

    sustainability report with a complete mapping of stakeholders and the detail of each media


    Nestl is committed to maintaining an open dialogue with all interested parties

    communicating through wide and varied channels of communication. This involvement

    allows us to identify the main expectations of stakeholders and outline future trends interms of risks and opportunities (Nestl Portugal, 2007: 35).

    In relation to the media used only with customers, institutional advertising in the media and

    service points stand out. The first causes a direct impact and, unlike advertising campaigns that or

    advertise news products or try to convince consumers to buy them or to remain faithful to certains

    brands, the use of institutional advertising refers only to the promotion of sustainability actions or

    the reassertion of company's commitment with the subject.

    Have the product packaging as a means of communication, values, assume different

    functions each day. Initially, they were created to protect and transport products, but now

    incorporate information of much importance as, for example, seals of quality, the validity of the

    product, its manufacturing date, nutritional composition, among other topics of entertainment, like


    When the target audience is internal, including employees and shareholders, the media

    shown in this study remained the same: e-mail, intranet, website, bulletin board, newsletters,

    newspapers and magazines internal, periodic meetings at the company and themselves sustainability

    reports, it means, we could divided them into online, printed and presence medias.

    Print media are frequently used by business surveys, which in fact confirms the trendsshown in other studies on internal communication. The move is mostly used in businesses with

    fewer than 1500 employees. Companies in higher-dimensional, newspapers, magazines and

    sustainability reports are more present. The use of media has proved to be negligible compared to

    the written media. Your target audience is composed primarily of officials who have no permanent

    presence on the company premises and are not used to read internal newsletters.

    According to the Draft Corporate Social Responsibility, organized by the Ministry of Labour

    and Social Solidarity of the Portuguese government in partnership with Equal, which is co-financed

    by European Social Fund (ESF): producing publications and documents containing the guidelines

    of the organization is indispensable in communicating CSR practices internally. Thus, the

  • 8/7/2019 Artigo IAMCR em ingls


    organization can create posters and banners for the dissemination of initiatives, periodically prepare

    policy documents such as memorandum and circulars, to newsletters and / or brochures on the

    activities of internal organization (Oeiras Pro, 2008: 15).

    A good example of the union of two media (postal and internal newspaper) is given by the

    Group Sumol. The company publishes the quarterly internal journal "consumption", which aims to

    inform and educate, giving an account of the actions developed by its brands, the evolution of

    business and financial results achieved and propagating the organizational culture of the Group

    Sumol. The journal is sent directly to the residence of each employee and their production relies on

    an editorial board.

    Another important finding is that food companies have reviewed and developed intranet

    systems and specific areas to each level of employees and shareholders. The use of email and the

    site itself is also done on a large scale by all companies. The difference between the use of printedand online has been greater in these firms, which highlights the importance of digital media today.

    Nestle, Danone and Delta mentioned the use of interactive tools like blogs and portals relationship

    as possible means of communication, especially with the younger audience. The food businesses

    surveyed also presented financial growth over this period, as shown below:


    Fig.4 Graphic of financial growth in the fiscal year of 2006.

    Another feature that can be noted by investigating Organizational Communication is that

    some companies are already investing in the creation of Corporate Social Responsibility

    Departments. According to the Green Paper (published by the Council of Europe in 2001, it is

    considered a guide to organizations which want to understand and put in practice the corporate

    social responsibility concept), there is a direct link between sustainability and profitability:

    faced with the challenges of a changing environment in the context of globalization and in

    particular the internal market, the companies themselves are becoming aware that their social
















    8.0% 7.4%


    5.0% 4.8%


  • 8/7/2019 Artigo IAMCR em ingls


    responsibility is likely to be of a direct economic value. (...) The experience with investment in

    technologies and environmentally responsible business practices suggests that go beyond mere

    compliance with the law and could increase the competitiveness of the company (Green, 2001: 3).

    The academic field has not stipulated one single quantitative model which enables us to

    make a relation between Sustainability and financial performance of companies. However, recent

    researches indicate that it is a good opportunity for growth, especially in contexts of recession. In

    2008, the IBM Institute for Business Value conducted the study "Achieving Sustainable Growth

    Through Corporate Social Responsibility"3. Its findings reinforce the hypothesis that Sustainability

    contributes to increase profitability: 68% of respondents emphasize the generation of revenue

    through initiatives, 65% acknowledge that they can have a positive financial impact on their results

    and 54% believe they offer a competitive advantage.

    Among the companies analyzed in this article, follows the result about the presence of a

    Sustainability Department and the first year when their sustainability report published:


    Companies Has specific department? Year of the first report

    Danone Sim 2004

    Delta Sim 2003

    Lactogal No 2007

    Nestl Sim 2003

    Sumol No 2006

    Fig. 5 Table of departments and reports about sustainability.

    The organizational structure of the Delta can be considered a good example in terms of

    sustainability. The company created the CODES - Council for Sustainable Development - that is in

    fact the agency responsible for compilation and dissemination of social responsibility strategy of

    Nabeiro Group. Belong to this specific department representatives from all areas of the

    organization, including employees, and the areas of Research, Environment Control, Finance,

    Quality, Food Safety, Hygiene Health and Safety, Human Resources, Marketing, Management and

    Social Action.

    Even in companies where there is a department of sustainability "formalized," can be seen

    the need to involve other sectors of the company's deployment and implementation of sustainability

    activities. Almost always there is a professional communication and marketing to coordinate the

    projects, but relies on the constant help of lawyers and human resource directors. The first usually

    3The institute interviewed directors of strategy at 250 companies from the banking, petrochemical, consumer goods, electronics,

    energy and utilities, retail and automotive industries. Of the participants, 30% are located in North America, 30% in Asia Pacific,20% in Western Europe, 7% in Eastern Europe, Latin America 6% and 4% in the Middle East and Africa.

  • 8/7/2019 Artigo IAMCR em ingls


    deal with legal issues, analyzing the law and whether or not giving its approval for the

    implementation of actions. The second, provides information, participates in the formulation of

    activities and is also responsible for the communication of the plans aimed among employees and


    For the direction of the consulting firm Sair da Casca:sustainability strategies and communication can be assembled by someone from the department of

    communication or sustainability (if any) and then have to be shared with all departmental

    directorates. Obviously, there must be a leader, an organizer who, preferably, have a good

    understanding of what sustainability is and will coordinate communication between the parties

    involved and responsible.

    For the realization of these reports, two interesting features can be highlighted. The first is

    that only from 2001, the year dedicated to volunteering, business really began to devote himself to

    preparing these documents. The second characteristic is the importance given to the mapping of the

    various stakeholders and their expectations for the company, and they met or not.

    Final Thoughts

    The theories reviewed in this paper exposed the evolution of the concept of Organizational

    Communication and its affirmation as a discipline in academia. We emphasize the importance of

    activities related to sustainability in companies, so it becomes possible to set up a social and

    environmental consciousness. The creation of departments of corporate social responsibility

    demonstrates that Portuguese companies already examined are reorganizing to act ethically and

    with respect to society, thinking about the sustainable future of coming generations.

    One of the challenges for Organizational Communication about sustainability is the search

    for creative and innovative solutions for a proactive communication. The incorporation of values

    and practices that make up the concept of sustainability is not simple, because not all audiences

    have the same level of education and culture. Every process of change involves resistance,

    transformation and learning. Therefore, the use of creative means, which hold the attention of

    stakeholders, as well as the renewal of these resources, becomes essential in the search for effective


    The centrality of communication in sustainable management does not simply mean that this

    movement is characterized by intense use of communication tools, or it becomes an exaggerated

    effort to build corporate image or reputation, although, in many cases, it is just how events take

    place. The communication of sustainability preserves of centrality, because rearticulates symbolic

    meanings, forming a favorable network performance, establishing a link between business and

    social enterprise

    As seen, the firms surveyed indicated using all the means suggested for communicating

    sustainability: mail, email, intranet, website, bulletin board, newsletters, internal newspaper and

  • 8/7/2019 Artigo IAMCR em ingls


    magazine, sustainability reports, company meetings, audiovisual means, own telephone line,

    institutional advertising in the media, product packaging, service centers and promotional activities.

    The sites and emails were the means which were repeated for all recipients: customers, employees

    and shareholders

    The results of our empirical research pointed to the confirmation of the hypothesis on

    companies investing in sustainability and publicize those actions with stakeholders. Media Intranet,

    email, newsletter were indicated as the most widely used strategy in organizational communication.

    Although the companies believe that all means are efficient, point to the site, internal newspapers

    and magazines, company meetings and promotional activities as the most profitable.

    In the questionnaires it was possible to verify that the Portuguese market companies usually

    do not examine systematically the evaluation of the communication of sustainability activities to

    employees, shareholders and consumers. However, companies recognize the importance ofinvesting in activities relating to social responsibility and realize that this may be an important

    competitive advantage.

    It was noted that the companies provided financial growth during the period, although this

    does not necessarily indicate that the communication on sustainability has been the reason for this

    growth. By showing that Portuguese companies have invested in corporate social responsibility and

    provide financial growth, it is hoped that this example will be illustrative for other areas of the

    market to invest in sustainability.

    Subsequent researches could investigate the impact of these messages among the

    stakeholders of companies. A reception study could investigate whether the internal and external

    customers choose companies on account of their actions sustainable. Providence will also extend

    this study to other areas than the grocery. It follows, then, that effective communication about the

    sustainability employed by the organization can become a differential in the competitive market.

    When the organizational discourse demonstrates a commitment to society, corporate citizenship is

    encouraged and every member of society is put in the role of sustainability.