A Comparison of CSR Image Construction between Chinese and American Petroleum Companies in the Context of Ecological Transition
Xiao Wang, Xiufeng Zhao, Yaxian Wang, Suzhen Li
CSR reports are currently employed by most petroleum corporates as powerful discursive resources to shift their image from "black" to "green". However, on account of factors such as the corporate ethics and cultures and the social and political situations in which the corporates operate, the CSR reports for image reconstruction may vary in terms of discursive representations as well as the extent and means of achieving "greenness". With the trend of economic and trade globalization, petroleum
... mpanies are bound to trade and open branch offices in countries in which they are not familiar with the ideologies and political atmosphere. Therefore, it is significant to learn about whether political background has an impact on petroleum CSR image construction or not. This paper examines the recent CSR reports by two oil companies, CNPC from China and CHV from America—two corporations diverging in many respects, the socio-political environment, in particular. In line with the constructive view of image, an approach of computer-assisted discourse analysis (CADS) is adopted for the comparison based on two corpora, each consisting of their 2015–2020 CSR reports. The findings have revealed that images constructed by CNPC and CHV have complex and dynamic characteristics as a result of political, social, cultural, and economic backgrounds, and the changes in historical conditions. On the whole, ethics and actions in promoting environmental friendliness constitute the predominant theme of their reports, an indication of their common awareness of the non-sustainable nature of their main and conventional business as environmentally sensitive industries. Nevertheless, CNPC and CHV differ in multiple respects. Firstly, CNPC tends to foreground its green image as an obligatory commitment to "ecological civilization", a national political strategy. In contrast, CHV constructs its image as a multinational corporate with not much attention to its home-state interests. Secondly, in alignment with different socio-cultural contexts, their basic positioning, as well as primary environmental concerns, targets, implementation paths, and changes with time differ from each other. This study contributes to multidisciplinary research on corporate image construction, promoting the combination of economic management, politics, and discourse analysis with data science. In practice, this study provides a new perspective for analyzing motivations, efforts, and means for the construction of CSR images, as well as some suggestions to corporates on how to adapt their CSR images to the target cultural community.