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The crucial role of research in multicultural and cross‐cultural communication

Jim R. Macnamara (Mass Communication Group Pty Limited & CARMA International (Asia Pacific) Pty Limited, 1st Floor, 87‐97 Regent Street, Chippendale, NSW 2008, Australia)

Journal of Communication Management

ISSN: 1363-254X

Article publication date: 1 July 2004



Research is recognised as an essential part of planning and evaluation in most areas of marketing and corporate communication, including advertising, direct marketing and, increasingly, public relations and corporate communication disciplines such as employee communication and community relations. Understanding of audience interests, awareness, perceptions and information needs is critical to strategic planning of communication campaigns. Secondly, identification and quantification of changes in awareness, perception and, ultimately, behaviour is necessary to evaluate objectively the effectiveness of communication (ie the outcomes or results). Nowhere is research more important than in multicultural and cross‐cultural communication. International relations began with human migrations and trade and reach new levels today with globalisation, corporations, organisations and governments increasingly seeking to create consistencies and shared values across divergent cultural groups. They seek to create consistencies and shared values in relation to products (eg Coca‐Cola, IBM, McDonalds), policies (eg trade agreements) and in popular culture such as films, television programmes and news media. Social rules and shared values, ie the culture of communities, affect organisations seeking to communicate multiculturally and cross‐culturally at two levels. First, the “home” culture of the organisation wishing to communicate shapes policies, plans and products that are produced. Secondly, the cultures of audiences inform and substantially shape their interpretation and use of information. Often, multicultural and cross‐cultural communication is a case of “Chinese whispers” on an international scale. What one says or shows is frequently not what others hear or see. Studies cited in this paper show that culture is a vitally important factor in communication. Yet, companies and even governments attempt communication with little understanding of audiences which they wish to reach and with which they wish to build relationships and understanding. This paper examines cultural considerations specifically in the field of public relations and corporate communication in the Asia Pacific region which is comprised of a diverse range of cultures and has been identified as the largest market in the world. Thus, it is increasingly a focal point of global communication campaigns.



Macnamara, J.R. (2004), "The crucial role of research in multicultural and cross‐cultural communication", Journal of Communication Management, Vol. 8 No. 3, pp. 322-334.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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