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Multinational corporations and public relations in a historically resistant host culture

Nilanjana Bardhan (Assistant professor in the Department of Speech Communication at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, USA)
Padmini Patwardhan (Assistant professor in the School of Mass Communication at Texas Tech University, USA)

Journal of Communication Management

ISSN: 1363-254X

Article publication date: 1 July 2004

Abstract

Since the onset of globalisation, many multinational corporations (MNCs) have been increasingly opening up subsidiaries in several host nations. While the entry of MNCs in some nations has been generally unproblematic, that has not been the case in every host nation. Fears of neocolonialism and postcolonial anxieties are very real phenomena in many parts of the world. When it comes to such resistant environments, MNCs need to be especially careful in how they conduct their public relations activities. This qualitative study of two MNC subsidiaries in India – Hindustan Lever Limited (of Unilever) and Maruti Udyog Limited (of Suzuki Motor Corporation) – explores, in context, the phenomenon of MNC public relations in this host nation that has a history of resistance to MNCs. The authors conclude that MNCs can be successful in potentially resistant host environments through culturally attuned involvement, intervention and respect for the local that is proven through socially responsible performance over time. This is an important message for MNCs starting up in new host environments. Descriptive details elucidate the specific public relations activities of the two MNCs in the Indian business and cultural environment. Overall, the findings have heuristic value for transnational public relations theory building since they suggest that an MNC’s organisational culture and approach to communication and relationship cultivation are important variables that shape how it practises public relations in host nations around the world.

Keywords

Citation

Bardhan, N. and Patwardhan, P. (2004), "Multinational corporations and public relations in a historically resistant host culture", Journal of Communication Management, Vol. 8 No. 3, pp. 246-263. https://doi.org/10.1108/13632540410807673

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited