Crisis Communication across Nations and Culture: An Agenda for Conceptual and Empirical Innovations in Times of Globalization - Panel Proposal

TitleCrisis Communication across Nations and Culture: An Agenda for Conceptual and Empirical Innovations in Times of Globalization - Panel Proposal
Publication TypeConference Paper
Author(s)Schwarz, A.
Affiliation (1st Author)Ilmenau University of Technology
Section or WGCrisis Communication Working Group
DateThurs 27 June
Slot CodeCRIT3a
Slot Code (Keyword)CRIT3a
Time of Session14:00-15:30
RoomHG17
Session TitlePanel: Crisis Communication across Nations and Culture: An Agenda for Conceptual and Empirical Innovations in Times of Globalization
Submission ID5482
Abstract

In the last 15 years, crisis communication has become one of the major cross-cutting sub-disciplines in communication research. Indicators are the growing number of publications in international journals (An & Cheng, 2010) as well as the increasing institutionalization of the field in terms of conferences, working groups at major academic associations, and research facilities specialized on risk and crisis communication. Observing these trends, Coombs even concludes that „[C]risis management has become the dominant topic in public relations research. It could soon be the case where the tail (crisis communication) wags the dog (public relations)“ Coombs (2010, p. 61). Another trend that underpins the relevance of this panel is the growing internationalization of communication as practice and academic field of research: It is increasingly impossible to escape communicating across national, cultural, and linguistic borders. Having an understanding of international communication processes and the factors that influence that communication has become imperative for communication practitioners and the scholars who study this phenomenon. (Hallahan, Holtzhausen, Ruler, Verčič, & Sriramesh, 2007, p. 27) Crisis communication, in particular, has become global in three respects. First, crises as well as public communication about crises are increasingly crossing national and or cultural boundaries and affect audiences in different countries. This has been accelerated by the growth of media and new media technologies as well as the increasing number of international organizations such as NGOs or multinational companies. Major crises such as the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the Fukushima crisis in Japan but also government responses to terrorist attacks or military conflicts as well as natural disasters have revealed crisis communications’ crucial functions, ethical failures and challenges of communicating with nationally and culturally heterogeneous stakeholders. Second, crises increasingly have tremendous transnational impacts such as affecting commodity prices, impacting migration and translocation of victims, and changing national and international political agendas. Third, crisis communication is a growing sub-discipline in communication scholarship around the globe. Despite these observations „[c]risis communication researchers and practitioners nonetheless seem reluctant to envision crisis as being likely to occur across cultural borders as it is in the domestic territories of international organizations“ (Lee, 2005, p. 286). Therefore, the participants of this panel argue that the study of cross-national and cross-cultural crisis communication is and will be a pivotal avenue of research in global communication research that is going to bear important conceptual and empirical innovations for the field.
In the proposed panel, participants from different countries will discuss shortcomings of current research on transnational crises with regard to both conceptual and methodological challenges. Based on ongoing research and findings from cross-national comparative studies, they will argue for a more systematic and multidisciplinary integration of crisis communication into the body of knowledge in communications and delineate future avenues of research in the field.

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