The Right Communication Strategy For German Multinational Corporations During Tough Economic Times

free essayCommunication strategy is one of the pillars that support any multinational company (or multinational corporation, MNC). Currently, it is highly competitive and volatile business industry (Vasile, 2014). Most MNCs use corporate report as the first line of corporate communication. Alongside corporate report, MNCs have started using social networking services, intranets, and companies’ website to report major developments in their products and services as well as corporate responsibility initiatives and achievements (Cambie&Ooi, 2009). The significance of effective communication or public relations (PR) strategy is increasing exponentially in present business environment. Crisis communication must be addressed strategically to sustain an entity’s reputation and brand position in current competitive and volatile business sector (Sehgal&Khetarpal, 2006).

Volkswagen is an apt example of a recent crisis communication success in automotive industry. Sehgal and Khetarpal (2006) theorize that communication plays a critical role in the success of MNCs, especially when addressing crisis. Following the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), it was noticed in September, 2015 that Volkswagen violated intentionally the Clean Air Act, and the company’s communication channels, especially external communications, have been busy in an effort to repair brand reputation and sustain its brand position (Topham et al., 2015).

The importance of having an effective communication strategy has been emphasized in the literature (Cambie & Ooi, 2009; Cornelissen, 2014; Sehgal & Khetarpal, 2006). However, German MNCs (e.g. Volkswagen) often encounter communication problems during crisis, which raises concerns as to whether these MNCs really have communication strategies in place and whether they are effective or not.

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RESEARCH BACKGROUND

Communication is a noteworthy constituent of any association, and its significance is elucidated in an announcement by Kostova and Roth (2002), who allude to communication just like the soul of the association. In different words, the upkeep of an organization requires a viable communication. The significance of having a successful internal and external communication is not just applicable for the fundamental support of the association. Additionally communication can go about as a hotspot for trading information and thoughts. The explanation behind this is the fact that data is the coin of communication. In this manner, quick and consistent stream of data advances and also engages an association. Generally, it is done in the form of cash flow leading to the creation of wealth.

Today’s business surroundings are described by escalating rivalry. To stay focused, numerous organizations view the choice of taking its businesses outside the sheltered and surely understood residential business sector as an arrangement. This alternative can be an alluring one for the reasons such as the closeness of crude materials, the accessibility of assets, the vast undiscovered markets, and, further, the alleged “take after your client” rule (Holtbru¨gge & Berg 2004). Comparing with household organization, MNC needs likewise to manage the standards inside hierarchical issues, difficulties in coordinating, and controlling its exercises in a considerably more perplexing structure anyway.

Furthermore, MNC faces multinational, multietymological, and multicultural situations (Gupta & Govindarajan 2001)). Because of these distinctive situations, they are prone to be the clashes between central station and outside units of the MNC. Next, it is important to see whether issues like administration style, choice making, and also operations ought to be brought together at the central command, or they are decentralized and adjusted to nearby practices in the remote units. As a result, the said situations mean that communication challenges are nothing uncommon inside MNCs (Volberda 2011). The straightforward reality implies there are physical separations among the subunits muddles without clear and successful communication (Volberda 2011). Never again it is conceivably to meet the partners over some espresso and examine both close and personal distinctive, but not to find new and productive arrangements.

Aside from the physical separation, there are always different components that confuse the accomplishment of a viable communication inside MNC. Henceforth, it is of incredible significance that the MNC puts time and exertion into examining the communication with a specific goal in order to know about hindrances that might exist within communication.

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Problem Focus

There are a huge number of explorations leading to the field of association and systems of MNCs, espessially in the field of communication. Nonetheless, there appears to be the lack of studies that consolidate the hypotheses on MNCs and the speculations with respect to communication.

Taking into account this foundation, we have figured a principle issue that will manage us in our investigation of the communication inside MNC. The purpose behind picking this issue is, as it was said above, that numerous studies leading with respect to this particular issue zone communication inside MNCs in the existing writing aside from a few articles. The notion composed basically concerns communication as an idea or intercultural interaction in eye-to-eye circumstances. Next, the missing issue is a study that joins these two fields of exploration into a hypothesis in regard to communication strategies inside MNC. Keeping in mind the goal of taking care of the principle problem and giving an unmistakable structure to the proposal, the primary issue has been separated into three research groups.

It is imperative to have an understanding of how the communication is in a matter of seconds sorted out in MNC. Therefore, this is the principal exploration issue. This comprehension is an essential for examining it in-depth, and it will serve as a fundamental foundation for the accompanying study. For MNC that is working outside its local outskirts and therefore has geological separations among its units, there are usually boundaries that are keeping the communication from working in a powerful way. In the second research issue, we distinguish between the ranges that go about as hindrances to a powerful communication in MNC and additionally what the outcomes of the boundaries are. In the wake of having distinguished current boundaries to a powerful communication, the study will climb to a more elevated amount. Here, we will examine the outcomes of the current boundaries by applying the hypothetical system on the observational information.

LITERATURE REVIEW

In this part, diverse important consolidated hypotheses have given the viewpoint of the interior communication inside MNC dissected and examined.

Internal Communication

In current writings about communication, there are various meanings of the idea attempting to portray and comprehend the open wonders. Fink and Holden (2005) define communication as an example of implications and human connection that take place inside associations. Other scientists see the idea of communication as basically a party (Gooderham & Nordhaug 2003). Further, Fink, and Holden (2005) characterize communication as a social connection through messages, though others present another meaning of communication and see it as “a procedure in which members make and impart data to each other in order to achieve a shared understanding”. Cambie and Ooi’s (2009) communication can satisfy diverse needs of the organizations. Birkinshaw (1998) views communication as being of great significance since he allude to communication, and data is considered as the backbone of the association. The significance of communication, the trading of data, and the transmission of significance are all additionally talked about by Paul (2011), who alludes to inner communication as the spirit of an association. The significance of communication can be clarified by the fact that the apparatus can both uncover and take out issues.

Criteria for Effective Communication

Harzing (2000) contends that the quantity of individuals came to by the message. Furthermore, the collectors relationship to one another, the sort of channel utilized, the kind of message sent are all the components that have an impact on whether the communication will be successful regardless of beneficiary needs are reacting to the message or not. With a specific goal in terms of deciding how compelling the interior communication is within association, it is fundamental to comprehend the criteria that define the adequacy. There are various conclusions with respect to how to characterize a successful communication. As specified, Nobel and Birkinshaw (1998) consider the estimation of effectiveness as an exceptionally subjective matter.

By 1992, the communication must meet a number of various criteria with a specific and powerful goal. Firstly, the communication needs to be concrete in request to beneficiary for comprehending data. The reason for this is the fact that the coding of the message will be influenced by the recipient’s society, foundation, dialect, and casing of reference. Every person has his/her own specific manner of transmitting and interpreting messages. The communication should likewise be thought implying that it is centered in the most vital parts of the data and ought to be facilitated.

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Facilitated communication is needed in territories where a few chiefs need to have the capacity to impart messages to colleagues in an indistinguishable way. Moreover, the communication must be consequent and ceaselessly transmitted after some time. The data must be transmitted persistently in order for the employees to consider it trustworthy. Therefore, it is essential to communicate facts on a continuous basis rather than sporadically. Lastly, the information must strive for creating contact that leads to dialogue. However, the importance of creating dialogue depends on the type of information. It is probably less important to create it when facts are transmitted as compared to the communication occurring between two co-workers on the operative level regarding how to solve specific issue.

Unfortunately, it is more common that the communication is transmitted on the sender’s conditions and does not take the receiver’s interest into account. To conclude, the criteria for effective internal communication can be summarized with three notions: objective, trustworthy, and instilling confidence.

METHODOLOGY

This section clarifies the particular exploration methodologies and strategies with an aim of illuminating distinctive steps in the research process. The first part examines the exploration technique, methodology, and procedure. Further, it clarifies the information gathering process from that point, and there is a dialog with respect to the nature of the examination at long last.

Data Collection and Analysis

The planned study will be executed using the survey strategy, which is commonly utilized in assessing people’s thoughts, feelings, and opinions. The specific survey tool that will be used in the study is semi-structured interviews with employees at the Volkswagen Corporate and Business Communications department. The choice of employees at this department is made because they are involved in the formulation and implementation of communication strategies for the company. The choice of semi-structured interviews stems from flexibility and opportunity to follow up any new issues that might emerge during discussions with participants. Since the study is explorative, structured tools such as questionnaires were deemed inappropriate; hence, semi-structured interviews were ideal survey instruments for the proposed research. The interview sessions will be recorded and transcribed verbatim for later analysis.

Prior to commencing the research, a request for permission to use the company as a case study will be sent. This will be followed by the selection of participants using snowball sampling, which entails participants making referrals to their acquaintances in order to take part in the research. In qualitative research, there are no definite rules for determining the sample size; however, achieving data saturation is important. The latter is the point at which no new data is emerging from respondents. It is expected that 15 participants will enable the researcher to achieve data saturation as recommended by Vogt, Gardner, and Lynne (2012).

Data will be analyzed using thematic content analysis wherein dominant themes from the interview data exist. With the use of a codebook, participants’ responses will be cross-examined to ascertain the evident common themes in the data. Coding of information will be done through reading and rereading the transcribed text. Data triangulation of secondary sources will also be performed for ensuring the consistency of the findings.

Research Method

The general reason for our study is to get higher level of comprehension of the elements that can go about as boundaries and keep a viable communication inside MNC along the lines. Following subjective examination, as pointed out by Paul (2011), “can uncover how all parts cooperate and shape a whole”. This methodology fits perfectly for meeting the need of our proposal. Further, the following communication is an exceptionally obscure and troublesome idea. It is not difficult to evaluate the chosen subjective methodology. The explanation behind this is when contemplating an unclear idea (for example, communication), it is desirable to overutilize the technique that makes it conceivable to comprehend, portray, and find importance in the meantime as it is an adaptable and advancing one.

Another purpose behind preferring a subjective system to a quantitative procedure is that the objective of proposition relates well with the goals of a subjective research examination, which is to create an understanding, depiction, disclosure, and importance (Tayeb 2000).

We have connected an abductive methodology with the postulation work, which implies that we have always been rotating between inductive and deductive methodologies. While utilizing inductive methodology, the specialist advances the hypothesis from regularities in the exact discoveries of the study and applies this where there is no current hypothesis that can clarify the marvel adequately. Deductive methodology, in its turn, suggests that the scientist has an existing hypothesis as the purpose of the takeoff for the study since it is conceivable to reason speculations from the hypothesis to control the attempted examination (Cambie & Ooi 2009).

Subsequently, it is important to supplement the present lack of studies that consolidate the speculations of MNCs and hypotheses with respect to inward communication. Our purpose here was deductive thinking. As there were no settled hypotheses appropriate for our case study, we had to go up against the field of communication in MNCs from another approach aside from a couple of articles touching the subject. With a deductive thinking, we built up a hypothetical structure accordingly by consolidating existing hypotheses of MNCs and communication. The hypothetical framework constituted our hypothetical reality with which we went up against the truth of the case organization. The interview created the case for the investigation where the hypothesis was connected with experimental discoveries. The examination demonstrated that the majority of hypothetical truths were additionally truths of the case organization. Thus, we found extra perspectives that were not secured by the hypothetical structure in present reality. In this way, the observational studies offered ascend to various hypothetical conclusions. Further, the examination made it feasible for us to make suggestions for the case organization.

Research methodology

When leading this postulation, the work has been a parallel procedure with respect to the three examination approaches: exploratory, clear, and logical. The centrality of different methodologies has vacillated all through the diverse periods of the theory work. The exploratory examination methodology was more significant first and foremost of our study where we expected to expand our insight into inward communication.

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Because of the way that there were no hypotheses straightforwardly pertinent to our study, we expected to investigate what speculations would be proper to merge with a specific goal of having a decent premise from which to proceed. Additionally, we strived amid the exploratory stage for distinguishing and comprehending the qualities and the operations of the case organization, Volkswagen.

In the following stage, the distinct examination approach commanded. It was utilized to depict how the communication is in a matter of seconds organized for the Volkswagen organization and how the issues are experienced. At last, in the final period of our study, the illustrative methodology took order when the relations between key discoveries were clarified by applying the hypothetical system with a specific goal of examining the hindrances and their outcomes that are forbidding a compelling interior communication inside contextual analysis design.

A specialist can choose between various outlines when directing case study: a solitary case outline or a numerous case plan. Likewise, the decision must be made between an encompassing and inserted plans. All encompassing configuration infers that one and only unit of examination is researched, though the installed outline includes a few units of investigation (Ferner & Varul 2000). Since we are focusing on the inward communication inside of one case organization, the examination outline connected with this case study is a solitary case outline. Also, as we have broke down the inward communication between the central station of the case organization and its two backups, our contextual analysis is a solitary inserted one since there are three units of investigation.

Keeping in mind the goal of encourage a far reaching organization in the contextual investigation, it is valuable to take after a set-up structure. For us, it was most convenient and suitable to utilize direct expository structure, which is a standard methodology when making research reports (Ferner & Varul 2000).The purpose behind this decision is that it is pertinent to logical, illustrative, and exploratory contextual analyses and, as it was mentioned above, our study has qualities from each of the three examination approaches. In direct investigative structure, “the arrangement of subtopics includes the issues or issue being contemplated, an audit of the applicable earlier writing, the techniques utilized, the discoveries from the information gathered and dissected, and the conclusions and suggestions from the discoveries” (Ferner & Varul 2000).

Sample Selection

The determination of the case organization was described in the presentation of the proposition. Thus, the center here is to portray the example determination inside the case organization, Volkswagen. Within particular contextual analysis, there are various locales to be gone by, occasions or exercises to be watched, individuals to be met, and archives to be perused (Cristina 2014). In our implanted single contextual analysis, we used three units of the case organization to a great extent. Consequently, we needed to pick significant time for investigating units and meeting certain individuals. Our strategy for testing was not similar to the case organization.

Research Strategy

Ahead of schedule during the time spent on directing this study, we chose that the most suitable for our motivation exploration methodology was the contextual investigation. The purpose behind this was that the reason for our study required us to explore communication inside genuine setting. The contextual investigation made it feasible for us to recognize and, moreover, to break down the elements that might go about as boundaries to a powerful communication inside MNC. The reason for this postulation therefore relates well to how Cristina (2014) characterizes a subjective contextual analysis in terms of the deciding item that is a “serious, comprehensive depiction and investigation of a solitary case, wonder, or social unit” (Cristina 2014).

Case study design

A scientist can choose between various outlines when directing a case study: a solitary case plan or a different case outline. Likewise, the decision must be made between encompassing and inserted plan. The comprehensive outline suggests that one and the only unit of examination is explored, while the installed outline includes a few units of examination (Ferner, Quintanilla, & Varul 2001). Since we are focusing on the inner communication inside one case organization, the examination plan connected with this situation study is a solitary case plan. In addition, as we have broke down the communication between the central station of the case organization and its two auxiliaries, our contextual analysis is a solitary inserted investigation since there are three units of examination.

Structure of the Case Study

So as to encourage far reaching arrangement of the contextual investigation, it is valuable to take after a built-up structure. For us, it was most convenient and suitable to utilize direct scientific structure, which is a standard methodology when making research reports (Gupta & Govindarajan 2001)).The purpose behind this decision is the fact that it is material for informative, spellbinding, and exploratory contextual analyses and, as specified above, our study has attributes from each of three examination approaches. In the direct explanatory structure, “the succession of subtopics includes the issues or issue being examined, the survey of the important earlier writing, the techniques utilized, the discoveries from the information gathered and investigated, and the conclusions and suggestions from the discoveries” (Malone 2004).

Sample Selection

The determination of the case organization was defined in the presentation of the proposal. Accordingly, the center here is portraying the example determination inside the case organization, Volkswagen. Within particular contextual analysis there are various locales to be gone by, occasions or exercises to be watched, individuals to be met, and archives to be perused (Miles & Huberman 1994). In our installed single contextual analysis, we thoroughly investigated three units of the case organization. Anyway, we needed to pick significant time for considering the units and meeting certain individuals. Our technique for inspecting was not similar to a regular one implying that we choose particularly some individuals. Thus, it would be more significant and intriguing for us to consider the exploration issues with respect.

How It Works


Inside of the edges of this non-likelihood testing, we conducted an intentional inspecting. The choice of tests depended on our examination issues, which obliged us to find, comprehend, and pick up knowledge for the inside communication of the case organization. Thus, we needed to choose an example from which we could acquire the important data. The type of deliberate examining connected with this case study was a blend of comfort and snowball examining. The previous one was utilized in view of the accessible assets and the accessibility of respondents, and the last was utilized since it permitted the picked respondents to give us proposals of other individuals that could be fit for interview in our study.

Evaluation of results

To take a look at the boundaries and their results from a somewhat diverse viewpoint, we will place them in connection with the degree to which the inner communication inside Volkswagen can be powerful. Keeping in mind the goal of doing this, we will contrast how well it compares and the criteria for a compelling inward communication displayed in hypothetical system. Tayeb (2000) has, as pointed out beforehand, added to various criteria that in order the inside communication of an organization to match the goal, it should be considered as compelling. At the point of contrasting some of Erikson’s criteria and the status of the communication inside Volkswagen, it is clear that there are some crevices both in vertical and horizontal communication. The data conveyed must be concrete and concentrated, which implies that it must be focused on the most imperative issues. In the communication level in Volkswagen, this is not the case since a large portion of workers may be liable to data overburdening as they get reminders that are not of the imagination expected for them. Additionally, in vertical communication, the focus is definitely not present as the data from the central station is primarily conveyed through the administrators who figure out what to go forward in the remote units, which means that it is not necessarily the same data that is achieved by the workers.

Moreover, the way the administrators from the outside units  choose freely what data from the home office to use in terms of the criteria of coordination. The coordination of data is also required if a few administrators are able to convey it in an indistinguishable way. Nonetheless, there is no formal route at present for how to forward the vertical data. Volkswagen is bringing about the units and not getting the same measure of data. Planned data is very often really significant since it can go about as a technique for delimiting the boundary made by the topographical separation. Further, the land separation and the time distinction make it important to truly consider and pick the most suitable channel for transmitting different data. This is associated with the criteria that an effective inner communication must be ensuing and continuous in request for the data to be dependable (Strid 1999). It is a matter of seconds as for the situation in Volkswagen for the same reason mentioned above in regard to having the administrators in the outside units going about as connectors for transmitting vertical data. Another zone where the lack of outcome and coherence is clear is in the examined issues inside obtaining division, where the request is not sent in a resultant way and where progression in the type of input is absent.

Definitively, the inward communication of Volkswagen does not satisfy the criteria described previously (Jandt 2001). The component with significant impact on this lies in the fact that there is no formal structure right now with respect to how the inward communication is sorted out. The nonappearance of a formal methodology for inner communication can be subsequently, as indicated by our investigation, seen as the cause of a portion of the issues keeping the adequacy of inner communication. The lack of formal structure inside Volkswagen is further exasperated by the hindrances talked about above: geological separation, time distinction, social contrasts, ethnocentrism, and the dialect issue.

RECOMMENDATIONS

A formal procedure for interior communication will help Volkswagen to master a large portion of the boundaries that have been examined. Making data accessible to everybody and paying little attention to where it is arranged will lessen the issues associated with land separation and time contrast (Baroto, Abdullah & Lai 2012).

. By genuinely executing the corporate dialect of English, the current issues associated with language will be restricted. Concerning this, there is no structure on the planet that can go around social contrasts, and the best way to solve this problem is expanding understanding at a singular level. Further, the technique will be clear for all of the representatives in an expressed way what data is when, how, and by whom conveyed. By and large, a formal structure could lessen the present condition of “out of sight, out of psyche”. Besides, the prescribed increment of individual visits, augmentation of ,intranet, corporate model, and different method of letting the outside units be more included, will most likely enhance the sentiment harmony.

It is basic for Volkswagen to consider our proposals for upgrading its inner communication since it is an instrument for spreading objectives, errands, and guidelines in an efficient way for organizing the exercises of the scattered subunits. It will be also an instrument for furnishing the administration with data in regard to the state of the organization. Further, the Volkswagen is a quickly developing organization, and it is particularly important to look over its inner and both vertical and horizontal communication among its units. Subsequently, the organization is prone to confronting changes and new issues constantly.

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CONCLUSION

The principal conclusion includes the control and coordination of exercises inside any MNC. It is the extent to which MNC is concentrated or decentralized choosing the suitability of different control systems. This suggests higher the level of centralization and higher requirement for coordination of the scattered activities within MNC. From the directed study, we have arrived to the conclusion that a high degree of centralization requires likewise a well-working inner correspondence. Thus, as the centralization suggests, the subunits are subject to the central station for new items, work procedures, information, and data. Consequently, a well-structured internal correspondence is critical.

The second conclusion is the fact that a large portion of the challenges in accomplishing the compelling correspondence inside MNC. These challanges are, first of all, the outcomes of the nature and attributes of MNC. Secondly, they are interrelated. A large portion of troubles in the inward correspondence inside considered organization are identified to a high degree with topographical separation and ethnocentrism as well as the dialect aptitudes, all of which are qualities of MNC. The case of the interrelatedness among boundaries is the dialect component, which has results in terms of the trouble of spanning the boundary that the topographical separation infers. The interrelatedness among the obstructions suggests that the results of the obstructions are comparable in a few perspectives.

Our third decision from the study is that ethnocentrism is a noteworthy hindrance to a successful inner correspondence in MNC. A sample of this may be presented when the home office accepts that the outside units require the same measure of data as the central command itself. This is, as expressed in the hypothetical system, something that has been proved in different studies, and its significance is further fortified by the aftereffects of our study.

The fourth conclusion that we have drawn from case study is the need for arrangement of inner correspondence in an early stage of the organization’s life cycle. The purpose behind this is that the organization develops and turns out to be more complex in course of time. Similarly, this is likewise valid for its inward correspondence. By arranging the latter in an early stage, the future issues or challenges should be maintained beforehand.