This study examines how corporations in the German food industry understand and perceive communication as a corporate social responsibility (CSR) dimension, how they communicate about food-related sustainability, and how this corporate food communication can lead to sustainability-oriented change in action-guiding institutions. This study takes a communicative-constructivist viewpoint that does not focus on the extent to which the communicated corresponds to the actual action but rather on how communication and communicatively constructed institutions can shape, influence, or constitute the action. A comparative qualitative case study approach reveals how two deviant cases within the producing and processing food industry assume responsibility through food communication and identifies five underlying roles of communication that, in their case-specific variations yield in two different conceptualizations of perceiving responsibility through communication. The analysis and interpretation of data, in the reference frame of communicative institutionalism, outline promising prospects on how corporate food communication can contribute to institutional changes that guide decisions and actions for sustainable development of the food system. Furthermore, the findings highlight food quality as a relevant communication resource for food-related discussions about sustainability that cross systems in the context of the food system and transforms an institution in such a way that it now also refers to aspects of sustainability.
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