Corporate social investment educational initiatives: a perceived strategic contributor to first national bank's reputation according to their internal communication consultants
Author(s)Blumberg, Taryn Ann
KeywordsCommunication in organizations
Corporations public relations
Social responsibility of business
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Organisations which practise according to a social cultural approach to organising from a systems perspective, as described by Buckley (1967:3), value the dynamics of interrelations and the importance of corporate communication, in order for an environmental balance to be maintained and an acclaimed organisational reputation to be built. By addressing the systems theory from a process model approach and the social cultural organisational context, according to organisational principles defined by the structuration theory tradition, the core principle of production and reproduction of social structures is emphasised, where it is possible to recognise the value of corporate communication as an element of the strategic management process. Literature has indicated that in its strategic capacity, corporate communication focuses on enhancing stakeholder relationships, facilitates an adaptive organisational structure and assists management to align strategies with goals. Organisations are therefore encouraged to adapt to a dynamic environment, which in turn develops a reputation based on transformation. Corporate social investment, within this context, is perceived as a strategic corporate communication facilitator which is practised with the aim of building relationships with communities and ensuring attainment of environmental goals which align with internal strategies and objectives. This study explores the corporate social investment educational initiatives of First National Bank, who have a vision of assisting to develop a better future through the youth. Through varied educational initiatives and corporate communication strategies designed around these initiatives, stakeholders should gain an enhanced impression of the organisation where First National Bank is recognised for shaping the development of South Africa in a global economy. Therefore, the primary research objective of this study was to identify the perceptions of selected First National Bank internal communication consultants, of corporate social investment educational initiatives as a strategic contributor to the reputation of First National Bank. The study assumed an overall qualitative methodological orientation; however both qualitative and quantitative research methodologies were used. The study consisted of three phases of research. Phases 1 and 2 were both of a qualitative nature and focused on the methodology of qualitative content analysis and qualitative in-depth semi-structured interviews respectively, thereby developing subjective and explanatory findings around the research objective. Phase 3 explored the quantitative research methodology of a self-administered questionnaire, and resulted in the production of empirical findings. Findings obtained in phase 3 were developed with the pursuit of substantiating and verifying what had been deduced in phases 1 and 2. From the findings yielded by this research, it is possible to surmise that First National Bank’s corporate social investment educational initiatives do strategically contribute to the organisational reputation, as they reflect the organisation’s ability to adapt to external influences, and have also revealed the need to focus on stakeholder involvement as a reputation management tool, which encourages stakeholders to make a difference to society and gain knowledge of the organisation’s strategies and goals. Findings have also suggested that First National Bank place emphasis on addressing corporate social investment educational initiatives from a holistic approach, where, through unity of efforts, a favourable organisational reputation is produced. It was perceived that alignment of organisational values with corporate social investment initiatives improves the organisation’s long-term business opportunities, and emphasis placed on relationship-building reflects the organisation’s desire to empower stakeholders who could assist in transforming strategies to reach organisational goals. However, a lack of communication at First National Bank surrounding corporate social investment was identified within this study, but it became apparent that the organisation does have an interactive culture which aims to address the external environment through their corporate social investment educational initiatives. This idea reflected how the organisation aims to achieve a dynamic environmental balance which ultimately assists the organisation in enhancing a positive reputation. This study has also indicated that it is the strategic role of corporate communication, as a social cultural phenomenon, to ensure that throughout every strategy implemented, the organisation is constantly and advantageously positioned in the minds of all stakeholders.