Corporate Social Responsibility in Mexico
An Approximation from the Point
of View of Communication
MARIELA PÉREZ CHAVARRÍA
Over the past few years, the topic of corporate social responsibility (CSR) has captured a great deal of interest, but its development and dissemination have varied from one country to another, taking on the cultural nuances typical of each nation or region. Research on these nuances would still appear to be exiguous, although some studies exist along these lines, such as that of Juholin (2003) in Finland and those of Sanborn (2004), Agüero (2002), and Sánchez (2000) in Latin America, among others, in which the main focus has been to identify the national characteristics presented by CSR.
In Mexico, although the topic has been developed over time, CSR still faces quite a few challenges: What is the significance of CSR? What exactly does it involve? How is it communicated? How can you make it visible? How do you disseminate it so that it can be applied, without it being considered a resource exclusively in the service of company image and public relations? How can it be seen as important, in and of itself, rather than a peripheral activity typical of the portfolios in this discipline? (Frankental, 2001; L'Etang, 1994; Roberts, 2003).
Moreover, as is well known, advances in the Internet have modified organizational communication (Augustine, 2001). In this new interactive context, it is no longer possible to communicate according to a linear model of univocal meanings and unilateral decisions. Today, the challenge involves participation and communication in a chaotic, open, interactive milieu that demands dialogue, confidence, and credibility between what is said and what is done (Stroh & Jaatinen, 2001; Tixier, 2003).
Given this panorama, in this chapter I present research that seeks to find out what is communicated on the Internet, insofar as CSR is concerned, by Mexican companies. In particular, I focus on companies with the best reputation in 2004, to wit: “[T]hose recognized for their responsible practices and their commitment to Mexican society” (Transparencia Mexicana y Consulta Mitofsky, 2004). I also attempt to discover the following: What is CSR in Mexico like, from what companies themselves say? What do companies say about themselves regarding this topic? To whom do they send those messages? How do they communicate on the Internet?
This research is important for several reasons. First of all, very little has been studied on the topic— that of social responsibility and communication in Mexico—and therefore, the resulting analysis may shed some light on how companies adjust to global pressure. Second, it may provide evidence on how CSR has developed in Mexico. Above all, it may discover what efforts the business sector has been making so that future research can compare it to similar groups in other countries.
In addition, from the standpoint of communication—which underlies and guides this work—