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The rehabilitation of the “nation variable”: Links between corporate communications and the cultural context in five countries

Jochen Hoffmann (Department of Culture and Global Studies, Aalborg University, Aalborg, Denmark)
Ulrike Röttger (Department of Communication, University of Münster, Münster, Germany)
Diana Ingenhoff (Department of Media and Communication Research, University of Fribourg, Fribourg, Switzerland)
Anis Hamidati (Department of Communication and Public Relations, Swiss German University, Tangerang, Indonesia)

Corporate Communications: An International Journal

ISSN: 1356-3289

Article publication date: 5 October 2015

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Abstract

Purpose

Despite an impressive body of international research, there is a lack of empirical evidence describing the ways in which organisational environments influence the practices of corporate communications (CC). A cross-cultural survey in five countries contributes to closing this research gap. The paper aims to discuss this issue.

Design/methodology/approach

What makes the research design innovative is that the questionnaire incorporates both practitioners’ perceptions of the cultural context and the relevance of CC practices. The sample comprises 418 practitioners from the most senior positions in CC in the biggest companies in Australia, Austria, Germany, Indonesia, and Switzerland. By choosing a systematic access to the field the authors circumvent shortcomings of “snowball” sampling techniques.

Findings

While cultural perceptions and CC priorities vary to a certain degree, there are hardly any significant correlations between the two. Meanwhile, the “nation variable”, and the institutional settings associated with it, are more instructive when explaining differences in CC.

Research limitations/implications

A large cross-cultural survey needs to take a “birds eye view” and, as such, is able to identify only general tendencies when describing relations between perceptions of culture and CC practices. Future case studies and qualitative research could explore more subtle ways in which CC is influenced not only by the cultural context, but also – and probably even more – by institutional environments.

Originality/value

This is the first cross-cultural survey to systematically describe on the level of primary data, the links between CC practices and perceptions of the organisational environment. Since the results indicate only a limited impact of culture, the authors would recommend the rehabilitation of the “nation variable”. Provided it is understood and differentiated as a representation of specific institutional contexts, the nation variable is likely to prove highly instructive when accounting for the diversity of CC observed around the world.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The paper presents results from the project CCCC – Comparing Corporate Communication Cultures. It is the first project of an informal research network of communication scholars currently spanning five countries: Jochen Hoffmann (Department of Culture and Global Studies, Aalborg University, Denmark; formerly Curtin University, Australia), Diana Ingenhoff (Department of Media and Communication Research, University of Fribourg, Switzerland), Anis Hamidati (Department of Communication and Public Relations, Swiss German University, Indonesia), Kurt Luger (Department of Communication Science, University of Salzburg, Austria), and Ulrike Röttger (Department of Communication, University of Münster, Germany).

Citation

Hoffmann, J., Röttger, U., Ingenhoff, D. and Hamidati, A. (2015), "The rehabilitation of the “nation variable”: Links between corporate communications and the cultural context in five countries", Corporate Communications: An International Journal, Vol. 20 No. 4, pp. 483-499. https://doi.org/10.1108/CCIJ-10-2014-0071

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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