Legitimacy for firms' sustainable practices on plastic

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During the last years, the crisis of plastic waste has been increasing in saliency, and the awareness on its environmental consequences is demanding companies to react. This creates a challenge for companies to maintain their legitimacy when addressing sustainability. This study is an attempt to reveal what discursive and textual contents companies use to support their sustainability agenda on countering plastic waste related problems. To achieve this, I reviewed literature on CSR and CSR communication strategies, legitimacy and discursive legitimacy, as well as sustainability. All of which are relevant in the context of the thesis. Furthermore, I use the companies’ publication contents in the form of press releases, tweets and sustainability reports to identify the companies’ direction in sustainability and their stance on plastic waste. On the other hand, to identify public perception over the companies’ sustainable agenda, I used the press and environmental activism as a parameter to determine the public’s perception of the companies’ legitimacy on sustainability in plastic waste. The thesis shows the impact of a company’s discursive legitimation strategies, aligned with its CSR strategies, over its sustainability legitimacy on plastic waste overtime. This supports companies in formulating strategies that secure its legitimacy in sustainability for the long term. In conclusion, this thesis participates in further reinforces existing theories on legitimacy in the context of sustainability, and analyzes legitimacy through CSR, discursive legitimacy and sustainability.
Faculteit der Managementwetenschappen