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Shift?: A qualitative text analysis of the crisis communication in The Volkswagen Sustainability Magazine 2016
Jönköping University, School of Education and Communication, HLK, Media and Communication Studies.
2017 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (One Year)), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

The Volkswagen emissions scandal is one of the largest CSR crises in recent times given its scope and severity. From the outset, the manner in which Volkswagen has addressed the crisis and how it is going to be solved has been subject to public scrutiny. This study set out to examine the crisis communication in Volkswagen’s sustainability magazine Shift from 2016 featuring Volkswagen together with some of its internal and external stakeholders like the management and customers to find out what strategies were used by the company to repair its reputation and to assess the success of these strategies. Additionally, of interest was to compare the viewpoints of external stakeholders to that of Volkswagen, while also to investigate what kind of actors and opinions of the crisis that were presented. To answer these questions, a strategic selection of texts from the magazine were analysed through a qualitative text analysis. The theoretical perspectives consisted of the two crisis communication theories of image repair theory and situational crisis communication theory.

The findings of the study indicate that the strategies used by Volkswagen to address the crisis do not seem very successful in general. Even if the most common strategy by Volkswagen is to discuss potential solutions to the crisis, these solutions are mainly oriented towards solving the crisis in a long-term perspective through a development of new vehicles. The biggest difference in comparison to external stakeholders is that they instead seem more concerned with solving the crisis in a shorter perspective through increased compensation to customers, for instance. Another finding is that a preference for more elitist stakeholders in the magazine could be due to a strategic choice by Volkswagen to avoid unfavourable reviews and use leaders as a tool for inspiring change. The main conclusion of the study is that work still needs to be done before Volkswagen can claim to have achieved a shift in the company’s sustainability communication. To do so, Volkswagen needs to take more responsibility for the crisis and to pay even more attention to the opinions of its different stakeholder groups.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017. , p. 45
Keywords [en]
Crisis communication, image repair theory, situational crisis communication theory, qualitative text analysis, sustainability magazine, corporate social responsibility, Volkswagen emissions scandal
National Category
Media and Communications
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hj:diva-35965ISRN: JU-HLK-MKA-2-20170105OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hj-35965DiVA, id: diva2:1107798
Subject / course
HLK, Media and Communication Studies
Supervisors
Examiners
Available from: 2017-06-14 Created: 2017-06-10 Last updated: 2017-06-14Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
Permanent link

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Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • harvard1
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
  • text
  • asciidoc
  • rtf