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Shifting environmental attitudes and influencing pro-environmental behaviour through the process of managing how, when and in what way we communicate

dc.contributor.advisorTheron, F. (Francois), 1954-en_ZA
dc.contributor.authorBarter, Angelaen_ZA
dc.contributor.otherStellenbosch University. Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences. School of Public Leadership.en_ZA
dc.date.accessioned2019-11-11T09:59:28Z
dc.date.accessioned2019-12-11T06:46:27Z
dc.date.available2019-11-11T09:59:28Z
dc.date.available2019-12-11T06:46:27Z
dc.date.issued2019-12
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/107082
dc.descriptionThesis (MPhil)--Stellenbosch University, 2019.en_ZA
dc.description.abstractENGLISH SUMMARY : Communication has immense power to create dialogue, evoke engagement, shift attitudes, influence decision-making and change behaviour through managing how, when and in what way companies communicate. Organisations are under pressure to adopt environmentally responsible practices and to communicate this environmental responsibility and compliance to their stakeholders, as a result of the upsurge of environmental concern among stakeholders, in international agreements and in increasingly stringent environmental legislation. This has led to an explosion of ‘’green claims’’ regarding the environmental practices of companies, or the environmental benefits of products or services, many of which cannot be substantiated or verified. Called “greenwashing”, this is unethical and can lead to irreparable brand damage, negative publicity, loss of stakeholder trust and investor confidence, and a reduction in pro-environmental behaviour, which in turn impairs efforts to improve the environment. The research objective of the study seeks to understand the role of communication as an effective and practical tool to educate, inform, influence decision-making and evoke values, beliefs and norms in order to prove the hypothesis that “through the process of managing how, when and in what way we communicate, public relations consultants and communication professionals are in a unique position to shift environmental attitudes and influence pro-environmental behaviour so that a change takes place whereby being environmentally responsible will become the ‘norm’ and not just ‘compliance driven’ because of a policy, code or law or for a competitive edge”. Conducted with members of the professional body of the Public Relations Institute of Southern Africa (PRISA) via an online questionnaire, the study looks at understanding the current state of environmental communication in South Africa. It examines how and in what way organisations communicate environmental impacts and practices; the characteristics of public relations practitioners and communication professionals communicating these “green” messages; and practitioner environmental attitudes, using the New Ecological Paradigm (NEP) Scale. The study also aims to identify the driving factors and barriers to engaging in pro-environmental behaviour. The results of this study show that communicators have immense power to shift attitudes and influence behaviour. However, communication is currently still focussed on one-way communication channels. In addition, the technical training required to understand complex environmental issues and environmentally responsible practices is lacking in the public relations industry. These factors, coupled with little understanding of “greenwashing” could result in communicators unintendedly misleading consumers with environmental claims that are false, deceptive, ambiguous or inaccurate. This prevents stakeholders from making informed decisions, affecting an organisation’s bottom line and reducing proenvironmental behaviour. To be the change we want to see in the world, public relations practitioners and communication professionals must realise that their roles as communicators have changed. Communicating environmental messages are not simply a “green” spin on tired old press releases, it is about sustainable communication as a continuous-results driven process of creating and sustaining long-term sustainable relationships between the organisation and its customer-publics (Harrison, 1993:323-327). Public relations can and should assume a more vital role in creating and sustaining longer-term stakeholder relationships that will benefit the earth, its people and the organisation.en_ZA
dc.description.abstractAFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING : Kommunikasie het enorme mag om dialoog te skep, betrokkenheid aan te moedig, houdings te verskuif, besluitneming te beïnvloed en gedrag te verander deur die bestuur van hoe, wanneer en op watter wyse maatskappye kommunikeer. Organisasies is onder druk om omgewingsverantwoordelike praktyke in te stel en om hierdie omgewingsverantwoordelikheid en nakoming aan hul belanghebbendes te kommunikeer, as gevolg van die toename in omgewingsbesorgdheid onder belanghebbendes, in internasionale ooreenkomste en in toenemende streng omgewingswetgewing. Dit het gelei tot 'n ontploffing van "groen aansprake" aangaande die omgewingspraktyke van maatskappye, of die omgewingsvoordele van produkte of dienste, waarvan baie nie gestaaf of geverifieer kan word nie. Dit is oneties en word "greenwashing" genoem, en kan lei tot onherstelbare handelsmerkskade, negatiewe publisiteit, verlies van belanghebbendesvertroue en beleggersvertroue, en 'n vermindering van pro-omgewingsgedrag, wat weer pogings om die omgewing te verbeter, benadeel. Die navorsingsdoelwit van die studie poog om die rol van kommunikasie te verstaan as 'n effektiewe en praktiese instrument om besluitneming te beïnvloed; inligting te deel; en waardes, oortuigings en norme te beïnvloed; ten einde die hipotese te bewys dat "deur die bestuur van hoe, wanneer en op watter manier ons kommunikeer, is openbare betrekkinge konsultante en kommunikasie professionaliste in 'n unieke posisie om omgewings houdings te verskuif en omgewingsgedrag te beïnvloed sodat 'n verandering plaasvind waardeur omgewingsverantwoordelikheid die 'norm' word en nie net 'nakoming' gedryf deur 'n beleid, kodes of wette, of vir 'n mededingende voordeel nie”. Onderneem met lede van die professionele liggaam van die Instituut vir Openbare Betrekkinge van Suider-Afrika (PRISA) via 'n aanlyn vraelys, kyk die studie na die huidige toestand van omgewings kommunikasie in Suid-Afrika. Dit ondersoek hoe en op watter wyse organisasies omgewingsimpak en -praktyke kommunikeer; die eienskappe van openbare verhoudingspraktisyns en kommunikasiepersoneel wat hierdie “groen” boodskappe kommunikeer; en praktisyn omgewings houdings, met behulp van die New Ecological Paradigm (NEP) Skaal. Die studie het ook ten doel om die dryfsfaktore en hindernisse om pro-omgewingsgedrag aan te spreek, te identifiseer. Die resultate van hierdie studie toon dat kommunikeerders groot mag het om gesindhede te verander en gedrag te beïnvloed. Kommunikasie is egter nog steeds gefokus op eenrigtingkommunikasiekanale. Daarbenewens ontbreek die tegniese opleiding wat nodig is om komplekse omgewingsvraagstukke en omgewingsverantwoordelike praktyke te verstaan, in die openbare betrekkinge-industrie. Hierdie faktore, tesame met min begrip van “greenwashing”, kan lei tot kommunikasie wat onbedoeld verbruikers mislei met omgewings aansprake wat vals, misleidend, dubbelsinnig of onakkuraat is. Dit verhoed dat belanghebbendes ingeligte besluite neem, wat 'n organisasie se sukses beïnvloed en proomgewingsgedrag verminder. Om die verandering te wees wat ons in die wêreld wil sien, moet openbare verhoudingspraktisyns en kommunikasiepersoneel besef dat hul rolle as kommunikeerders verander het. Om omgewingsboodskappe te kommunikeer, is meer as net 'n “groen spin” op ou persvrystellings. Dit gaan oor volhoubare kommunikasie as 'n deurlopende resultate-gedrewe proses om langtermyn volhoubare verhoudings tussen die organisasie en sy kliënte-publiek te skep en te onderhou. (Harrison 1993:323-327). Openbare betrekkinge kan en behoort 'n meer belangrike rol te speel in die skep en volhoubaarheid van langer termyn verhoudings met belanghebbendes wat die aarde, sy mense en die maatskappy bevoordeel.af_ZA
dc.format.extentxix, 151 pages ; illustrations, includes annexure
dc.language.isoen_ZAen_ZA
dc.publisherStellenbosch : Stellenbosch University
dc.subjectCommunication -- Social aspectsen_ZA
dc.subjectPublic relations -- Moral and ethical aspectsen_ZA
dc.subjectGreen communication -- South Africaen_ZA
dc.subjectPro-environmental behaviour -- South Africaen_ZA
dc.subjectGreenwashing -- South Africaen_ZA
dc.subjectUCTD
dc.titleShifting environmental attitudes and influencing pro-environmental behaviour through the process of managing how, when and in what way we communicateen_ZA
dc.typeThesisen_ZA
dc.description.versionMasters
dc.rights.holderStellenbosch University


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