Corporate Freedom of Expression and Corporate Social Advocacy (csa): How Publics Evaluate Corporate Political Voice

Date of Award

Summer 7-16-2021

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Mass Communications


Jiang, Hua


corporate freedom of expression, corporate social advocacy, corporate social responsibility, expectancy violation theory, individualistic cultural orientation

Subject Categories

Communication | Mass Communication | Social and Behavioral Sciences


Corporate social advocacy (CSA) has been defined as a corporate definitive stance on a controversial socio-political issue. Previous CSA scholarship based on this definition has limitations in addressing social dynamics and public responses to CSA. Drawing on expectancy violation theory, this dissertation proposes a theoretical model illustrating how publics perceive CSA as appropriate or inappropriate based on their expectations of corporations. In doing so, this dissertation suggests a novel definition of CSA as a corporate exercising its freedom of expression with a review of corporate legal rights. The US legal system supports corporate free speech rights in political arena as a legal person. However, lay people tend to be skeptical of permitting corporations to exercise their freedom of expression, due to their view of corporate autonomy and morality. This study discusses individuals' cultural orientation, which influences how they regard corporate identity in society. Depending on how individuals perceive corporate agency as an independent entity, they have diverse expectations of corporate freedom of expression. When people expect corporates to have free speech rights and CSA, they are more likely to evaluate corporate advocacy behavior as appropriate. Therefore, the proposed research model in this study links individualistic cultural orientation, recognition of corporate identity, knowledge of a legal person, expectancy of corporate freedom of expression, expectancy of CSA, and perceived appropriateness of CSA. The hypothetical model was empirically tested using an online survey.


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