Page Center 'open call' research proposals have international flavor

The Arthur W. Page Center, a research center at the Penn State College of Communications dedicated to integrity in public communication, awarded 21 grants totaling about $79,000 this past summer to foster novel research intended to reveal what corporate social responsibility (CSR) looks like to corporate communicators and regular citizens around the world.

Page Center director Denise Bortree oversaw the “open call” portion of the awards, which garnered proposals on a variety of topics within the field of ethical communications. (View a full list of 2015-2016 Page-funded research projects.) The 12 funded “open” projects aim to create new outlooks on CSR and best communication practices for researchers and practitioners. The remaining nine grants will support projects related to sustainability communications.

“Funding quality innovative research is a key part of our center’s mission,” Bortree said. “The call was open to all topics of ethical communications, but we had a specific interest in research that aligns with the Page Center’s initiatives,” which includes focuses on CSRdigital and social media ethics and sustainability/environmental communications.

Internationally since the 1990s, corporations have shown increased interest in advocacy issues, with many taking measures to offset environmental, economic and social impacts. Many of this year’s funded projects are examining this change all over the world, giving the current collection of research an international flavor compared to past open calls for proposals.

For example, research by Don Stacks, Miami University, Timothy Coombs, University of Central Florida, and Regina Chan, Hong Kong Baptist University, will compare corporate communication practices among companies in the United States and China. Other investigators are studying similar practices in Slovenia, India, Australia and Indonesia.

Hyejoon Rim, University of Minnesota, is examining how people from different cultures respond to CSR. Is it effective and/or worthwhile for companies? With the growing emphasis being placed on social responsibility, Rim’s research will help practitioners better manage their goals. The project will use data gathered by a marketing research firm and conduct a cross-cultural comparison to gauge public attitudes on topics like human rights, labor conditions, corruption and the environment in the United States, South Korea and United Arab Emirates.

Bortree said this year’s group includes innovative projects by talented researchers. She added, “It’s exciting to watch these projects grow. It seems like each year the proposals get better and better, and it’s great knowing that the Center plays a part in making them happen.”

Results from these funded projects will be available in June 2016. A call for the next round of proposals for 2016-2017 grants will be announced this fall.

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Last Updated September 17, 2015