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Corporate communication about climate science: A comparative analysis of top corporations in New Zealand, Australia, and Global Fortune 500

Jagadish Thaker (School of Communication, Journalism & Marketing, Massey University, Auckland, New Zealand)

Journal of Communication Management

ISSN: 1363-254X

Article publication date: 11 December 2019

Issue publication date: 18 August 2020




The purpose of this paper is to comparatively analyze how top corporations in New Zealand, Australia and the Global Fortune 500 group communicate about climate science.


A combination of keyword count and quantitative content analysis is used to develop a reliable set of indicators to measure corporate communication about climate science.


Just a few corporations mention or explicitly agree with scientific consensus on climate change and few report science-based targets. They report more frequently on societal risks of climate change, as well as business contribution and responsibility. New Zealand based corporations generally do poor reporting compared to Australian corporations, who do as well as the biggest corporations in the world.

Research limitations/implications

There is a further need for cross-country research and for more longitudinal analysis to understand how organizations communicate about scientific issues to its stakeholders.

Practical implications

This paper can inform communication managers about the need to pay attention to how their communication, individually and in comparison with their peers, is likely interpreted by the stakeholders. Managers may attend to scientific consensus messaging to gain stakeholder approval for ambitious business actions on climate change.

Social implications

Organizations are powerful social and economic drivers. Understanding how they interpret and communicate a scientific issue has implications for public and policy discourses and outcomes.


This is the first paper to comparatively identify common and contextual drivers of business communication of complex scientific issues. A reliable scale to measure climate science communication by corporations will be helpful for future researchers to replicate in other sectors.



The author thanks the anonymous reviewers whose comments have greatly improved this manuscript.


Thaker, J. (2020), "Corporate communication about climate science: A comparative analysis of top corporations in New Zealand, Australia, and Global Fortune 500", Journal of Communication Management, Vol. 24 No. 3, pp. 245-264.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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