Category Archives: Journal Article

Risk, crisis, and social media

New pub with Joel Rasmussen: The literature on social media use in risk and crisis communication is growing fast, and it is time to take stock before looking forward. A review of 200 empirical studies in the area shows how the literature is indeed increasing and focusing on particular social media platforms, users, and phases from risk to crisis relief. However, although spanning 40 countries, a large proportion of the world’s social media users are under-represented in the research. In addition, little attention is given to the question of who is actually reached through social media, and the effects of the digital divide are rarely discussed. This article suggests that more attention is given to the questions of equal access to information and ICTs, complementary media channels, and cultural diversity.

Rasmussen, J., & Ihlen, Ø. (in press). Risk, crisis and social media: A systematic review of seven years’ research. Nordicom Review, 1-17. doi:10.1515/nor-2017-0393

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Corporate Dialogue Comes Head to Head with Economic Rationality

It has been a long winding road, but finally, the dialogue paper that I have written together with Abbey Levenshus is making it into print. This is the gist: Public relations has long been preoccupied with the notion of dialogue, and the advent of social media ushered in new enthusiasm. Still, despite the technology on offer and the fact that dialogue has become a value that “everyone” embraces, most research concludes that little actual dialogue takes place between corporations and their stakeholders. Scholars have pointed to a host of different factors to explain this, ranging from practitioners’ lack of time to their lack of understanding of what dialogue is. This paper discusses perspectives on corporate dialogue with a focus on the constraints identified in the literature, before presenting the main argument that not enough attention has been paid to the macro limits at the systemic level. The paper issues a call to locate dialogue attempts within a system where a limited economic rationality reigns, which, in turn, constrains what individual practitioners can achieve.

Prepint of Ihlen, Ø., & Levenshus, A. (2017). Panacea, placebo or prudence: Perspectives and constraints for corporate dialogue. Public Relations Inquiry, 6(3), 219-232. doi:10.1177/2046147X17708815

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CSR history in Norway

Not sure if you held your breath during these years, but anyway: The paper “Ye olde CSR: The historic roots of corporate social responsibility in Norway” has finally made it into print, which makes it appear real. The online version was published almost two years ago by the Journal of Business Ethics. Anyway, in the essay we trace the roots of corporate social responsibility (CSR) in Norway. It is argued that a basic tenet of CSR, an orientation toward the concerns of stakeholders, has a long history in Norwegian business, predating the modern CSR movement. The essay underscores certain qualities of the Norwegian business system and the Norwegian political culture in order to explain how this stakeholder orientation grew and how CSR is perceived and practiced today. Corporatism and dialog are traits which position Norwegian businesses well to address CSR in a globalized economy. Present-day examples of companies and practices are provided to illustrate key features of Norwegian CSR, as it has developed over the course of more than 150 years.

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Birds of feather

I have been tagging along the prolific Anders Olof Larsson on a study of Norwegian politicians and their use of Twitter. Twitter, has often been deemed as an elite medium, thus reducing its democratic potential. The findings in our study show a different picture. Most of the politicians in the sample do use Twitter and its @message functionality. Furthermore, the extent to which they communicate with ordinary citizens is larger than expected. Still, it is a clear tendency that the exchanges are found in user clusters with little overlap between them. The researched party leaders mostly approach other Twitter users in unique clusters. Open access!

European Journal of Communication

Behind the framing scenes

Off to a good start in 2015 and now American Behavioral Scientist has just accepted a paper written by myself, Tine Ustad Figenshcou and Anna Grøndahl Larsen. The paper is called “Behind the framing scenes: Challenges and opportunities for NGOs and authorities framing irregular immigration” and will be published as a part of a thematic issue on irregular immigration. The data stems from the project Mediation of Migration which now is completed.

In the article, we analyze the strategizing that goes on behind the scenes among non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and public immigration authorities. Many studies have documented how strategic actors take advantage of mainstream news media conventions, but there is a dearth of research on how these frame sponsors critically reflect on their strategies. Based on extensive ethnographic fieldwork and 35 qualitative interviews, we analyze the dilemmas and challenges the actors face in adapting their communication strategies to the news media, each other and their resources. Preprint version.

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Special Forum on sustainability in MCQ

The Special Forum on Organizing/Communicating Sustainably has just been published in Management Communication Quarterly (Guest Editors: Rahul Mitra and Patrice M. Buzzanell).

As I have bragged about in an earlier post, my two cents concern the corporate rhetoric and the dilemma between business goals and sustainability that is not easily done away with (“It is Five Minutes to Midnight and all is Quiet”: Corporate Rhetoric and Sustainability” Preprint version)

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It is five minutes to midnight

A Special Forum on Organizing/Communicating Sustainably is under way in Management Communication Quarterly. I have a piece in there called “It is Five Minutes to Midnight and all is Quiet”: Corporate Rhetoric and Sustainability” where I try to do two things: First, to give a sketch of the corporate rhetoric on sustainability; second, to discuss the implications of the so-called communicative constitution of organizations (CCO)-perspective have for criticism of this type of rhetoric. The latter holds that ambitious corporate sustainability rhetoric helps drive the sustainability agenda. The position taken in this essay is that a first step is to acknowledge the need to move beyond the insistence that no dilemma exists between meeting business goals and achieving sustainability. Fundamentally: Aspirational talk will not dissolve this discrepancy. Preprint version

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