Corporate Social Advocacy as Public Interest Communications: Exploring Perceptions of Corporate Involvement in Controversial Social-Political Issues

  • Lucinda Austin University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
  • Barbara Gaither Elon University
  • T. Kenn Gaither Elon University


Through a nationally representative U.S. survey of 1,214 participants, this study examined attitudes toward the role of corporations in public interest communications and response to a series of recent high-profile corporate social advocacy cases. Findings provide preliminary evidence for what types of public interests are most appropriate for organizations to address, based on perceived motivations, commitment to advocacy, and dimension of corporations as actors for social change. Results from this study suggest demographic differences by political viewpoints, age, income, education, and gender. However, an overall level of agreement across all respondents indicates that corporations should engage in addressing important social issues, which is particularly noteworthy given that the U.S. population skews conservative.


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Original Research