Cruise lines searching for legitimacy: Stakeholder relationship management and CSR reporting

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The rapid growth of the cruise industry since the beginning of the ‘90 has stimulated the ongoing debate on its positive and negative impacts at economic, social and environmental level. Under multiple stakeholder pressure, leading international cruise companies have re-shape their communication strategies by fostering their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) attitude to successfully manage stakeholders and support their corporate strategies.

Grounding on stakeholder theory and legitimacy theory, the paper addresses cruise lines’ CSR reporting and develops a conceptual framework for assessing the nexus between the contents of CSR reports and stakeholders prioritisation. PortEconomics members Francesco Parola and Giovanni Satta joined by Lara Penco and Luca Persico (University of Genoa (Italy), Department of Economics and Business (DIEC) and Italian Centre of Excellence for Integrated Logistics (CIELI), Italy) propose a theoretical model for classifying the main contents of cruise companies’ CSR voluntary disclosure (32 semantic topics grouped into five categories) and then rely on survey method to score the relevance of various topics for different stakeholder groups. Finally, cruise lines’ strategies in prioritizing stakeholder groups are investigated along with a multiple case study perspective, by performing a content analysis on the CSR reports (2015) of three leading international (holding) cruise lines, i.e. Carnival Corporation, Royal Caribbean Lines and Genting Group (Star Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line). The port study offers insights for cruise managers by providing anecdotal evidence on CSR disclosure as a SRM tool for addressing gaps in firm’s legitimacy and by furnishing a useful benchmark for comparisons.

The port study of Francesco, Giovanni, Lara and Luca titled “Cruise lines searching for legitimacy: Stakeholder relationship management and CSR reporting” was presented in the IAME 2017 Conference held 27-30 June in Kyoto, Japan. The paper and presentation of the study is available and can be freely downloaded.

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