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Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Pacific Access Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)



First Advisor

Carol Ann Hackley

First Committee Member

Qingwen Dong

Second Committee Member

Alan Ray


This study set out to explore how multinational corporations incorporated the issue of culture into the planning process for crisis management. The research used a case study method with unstructured interviews conducted via email, phone and in person, and focused on the U.S. and Japan. Four of the interview subjects were established public relations professionals with experience in both countries, and one subject is a professor of intercultural communications in Japan. All interviews were transcribed and approved by the interview subjects before being analyzed and catalogued into themes. Those themes were then reviewed compared to the intercultural communications theoretical framework of power distance, high-context vs. low-context communications, and individualism vs. collectivism.

Results revealed three main themes, including differences in PR between Japan and the United States, belief that culture should play a more substantial role in crisis communications, and actual use of culture in crisis communications. Responses showed that, regardless of a collective belief that culture should play a substantial role in crisis r;;- management, intercultural communication components often take over in emergencies.

In conclusion, while all interview subjects saw value in cultural response, the broad scope of what that entails made it an impractical endeavor. Further, responses showed that the planning stage is not the most effective place to integrate culture into crisis communication. Research did suggest, however, that an updated PR model, adapted from the R.A.C.E. method, that incorporates elements of cultural communication consideration between the Action Planning and Communication stages could beneficial.



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