Nowadays, corporate responsibility is turning out to be one of the most prominent issues in the international arena. It has also become a research priority in the field of public relations, considering its importance in the said industry for decades. It is because of this that several studies have been made that looked into the importance of the internet and corporate websites as tools of public relations. In the same manner, these studies investigated the relevance of corporate websites for communicating approaches to corporate responsibility.
For each and every company on the face of the planet, corporate responsibility is becoming more and more important as it is considered as the legitimating activity for the organization in the society, as Degan (2002, p. 92), Holmstrom (2003) and Hooghiemstra (2000, p. 56) mentions. The principle of legitimacy becomes effective on the institutional level, which suggests that the organization justify itself vis-a-vis society; that is, it must not use its power without justified cause.
On the organizational level, the principle of public responsibility implies that organizations are responsible for the outcomes of their actions which impact society directly or indirectly. Lastly, on the individual level, it is critical that managers are continuously aware that they ought to act based on moral viewpoints. Moreover, other studies, suggest that corporate responsibility is also an activity more and more valued and demanded by the public (consumers, investors, employees, communities, journalists, etc.) which monitor the civic behavior of the different companies and assess them accordingly (Capriotti, 2006).
Public Relations and Corporate Citizenship In the field of public relations, corporate responsibility is undoubtedly one of the most popular themes. In fact, there is a narrow relationship that exists between public relations and corporate responsibility, as suggested by Clark (2000).
According to Holmstrom (2003) and Moreno (2004), this is because public relations itself is considered to be a legitimating practice for the different organizations, as perceived by both the functionalist and poststructuralist perspectives. True enough, according to Capriotti (1999), companies have progressively assumed responsibilities that transcend beyond their own activities within the social sphere.
Their perception of what corporate responsibility is has evolved during the past fifty (50) years. Waddock (2004, p.10) mentions that the concept of corporate citizenship has become more and more relevant as the stakeholder theory has been used to explain corporate social responsibility. For Waddock (2004, p. 9), corporate citizenship usually involve strategies and operations practices a company develops that are essential in operationalizing its relationships with the stakeholders and the natural environment. This is also essential in analyzing how these relationships affect the latter. It is because of this that corporate responsibility has been closely associated with sustainable development (Herrmann, 2004).
Hence, the perceptions of corporate social responsibility/corporate citizenship/and sustainable development are based on the commitments of a certain organization and their relationship with the general public to be able to fulfill their economic, social and environmental duties. It is in the fulfillment of these duties and commitments that these companies, in their management; the development of its products, services, and businesses; and in the evaluation, are devoted to transparency and ethical behavior (Capriotti, 2006). Public Relations and Corporate Websites
In the age where information technology has undergone a lot of advancements, the internet has surely become one of the most vital tools for organizational communication, as Sullivan (1999) clearly mentions. Studies made, such as that of Hill and White (2000) and Kenty and Taylor (1998) show the importance of the World Wide Web, especially corporate websites as tools for public relations. In addition, it has also become an avenue through which communicating organizational responsibilities are transmitted through their patrons (Esrock & Leichty, 1998).