Purpose – This paper seeks to contribute to the field of corporate communication by clarifying the theoretical basis of communication in issue arenas and proposing an agenda for research on issue arenas. Design/methodology/approach – Drawing on insights from stakeholder thinking, network theory, issues management, and agenda‐setting theory, the authors identify different levels of analysis that could explain the behaviour of organisations in the public debate on current issues. Findings – The organisation‐centred approach is replaced by a strong emphasis on interaction in networks of organisations, groups and individuals. Decision‐making on communication strategies can be further developed by analysing the particularities of each issue arena, in particular the characteristics of the issue and the actors involved as well as the course of the debate and the communication strategies utilised in stakeholder interaction. Research limitations/implications – This theoretical approach calls for further research, but offers an agenda and suggests four starting levels for analysis. Practical implications – This paper provides a timely approach to the analysis of corporate communication that may help understand the complexities of a rapidly changing organisational environment and, ultimately, assist organisations in developing customised communication strategies suited to each issue arena relevant to their operations. Originality/value – Insights from various theories are brought together to serve as a starting point for the further analysis of communication in issue arenas.
Corporate Communications: An International Journal – Emerald Publishing
Published: Apr 1, 2014
Keywords: Issue arena; Issues management; Public debate
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