Legitimisation through corporate philanthropy: a cruise case study

Clare Weeden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Corporate philanthropy (CP) describes the voluntary action of a company to donate time and/or financial resources to a societal cause. Originally aligned with altruistic intention, CP is increasingly used to deflect criticism away from industries with reputations for poor environmental, social, or economic management. The cruise sector’s policies on human resources, environmental management, and taxation, and their use of private enclave resorts as ports of call in the Caribbean are considered by many stakeholders to be financially and socially exclusionary. To mitigate such censure, and to support claims for good corporate citizenship, cruise firms are increasingly embracing philanthropic projects. Royal Caribbean International (RCI) has funded a school in Haiti since 2010. Acknowledging the complexity of Haiti’s economic, social, and political context, and the challenges associated with unpicking corporate intention, this article draws on legitimacy theory to interpret RCI’s school project in Haiti. The article argues RCI’s financial support of the school is designed to confer social legitimacy on its operations in Haiti. The article concludes with recommendations for RCI to significantly amend its business model away from the use of enclave resorts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)201-210
Number of pages10
JournalTourism in Marine Environments
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015


  • Corporate philanthropy (CP)
  • Corporate social responsibility
  • Cruise tourism
  • Enclave
  • Haiti
  • Legitimacy theory
  • Royal Caribbean International (RCI)


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