In September 2015, it appeared that the Volkswagen Group had circumvented the rules for testing diesel car exhaust gases. Although the organization presents itself as eco-friendly, it used a “default device” for diesel cars to produce less CO2 during test situations. Due to this kind of scandal, corporate communication is often associated with greenwashing and the manipulation of minds. Using the normative practice approach, the authors introduce some basic distinctions that may help to come to a better understanding of what the specific duty and responsibility of communication professionals is. They argue that corporate communication stands or falls with public trust. Building confidence and public legitimation is the main task of communication professionals. Although communication is about the construction of a communal world, that does not mean that framing and strategic reasoning are not important. In order to bring in a legitimate point of view, one has to present this point of view in an impactful way. Communication professionals have to balance between the interests of the organization and the requirements of public legitimation. They also have to make convincingly clear how their personal biography and the narrative of the organization are interrelated.
The Normative Nature of Social Practices and Ethics in Professional Environments
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