Strategic Communication in Contexts of High Sustainability Pressure: Balancing Purposefulness, Transparency and Participation in Pursuit of Organizational Legitimacy

Helle Kryger Aggerholm, Christa Thomsen

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftsartikelForskningpeer review


In recent years, there has been an increased focus on strategic communication as sustainability. However, there is still a lack of general consensus of what is understood by strategic communication in contexts of high sustainability pressure. Overlapping concepts and dimensions make operationalization difficult. This is for example a problem for corporations who are increasingly asked by their stakeholders to account for their sustainability activities.
The purpose of this paper is to: (a) identify strategies to (re)establish organizational legitimacy which dominate the literature; (b) propose and empirically illustrate an analytical content framework that establishes the linkages between the dimensions of purposefulness, transparency and participation identified in our literature review as important resources in the creation of organizational legitimacy.
Based on a review of the academic literature, we propose a three-dimensional analytical content framework for understanding and studying strategic communication in contexts of high sustainability pressure. In order to empirically illustrate our framework, we use the letters from the CEO and the Chairman published in the integrated annual report from a Danish company well-known for its focus on sustainability.
Our analysis shows that all three dimensions, i.e. purposefulness, transparency and participation, are present in our data, which we find supportive of our theoretical argument that strategic communication in contexts of high sustainability pressure is an institutionalized concept that contains all three elements.
TidsskriftJournal of Communication Management
Udgave nummer1
Sider (fra-til)58-71
Antal sider16
StatusUdgivet - 2024


  • Ledelse, organisationsudvikling og innovation
  • Medier, kommunikation og sprog