On February 15 Marita Vos, full professor of Organizational Communication and PR at the University of Jyväskylä in Finland, gave a guest lecture about her research on issue arenas at the Corporate Communications department. Read on to find out more about her ideas about the future of organizational communication research. 


Your book is called ‘Communication in Turbulent Times’. What makes the current era so turbulent for organizations?

The current world is so interconnected that risks and issues in one part of it quickly travel to other parts of the globe. For example, a risk like a flu virus literally travels as people are mobile, whereas cyber attacks may be implemented from another continent. Similarly, a reputation affair can travel over the web at an astonishing pace, while even share price may be influenced by one tweet of an influential.


What are the most important research trends you see in the study of issue communication and issue arena’s? How do you hope the field will develop?

There is much attention for quickly developing online communication. However, in research still the emphasis remains on one focal organization and often just one focal issue. In reality, the environment is much more complex than we assume in our research design, an organization is less central in social networks and issues are interrelated. I hope that there will be more research of multi-actor interactions, in multi-media environments and considering a multi-issue context. It is the only way to better understand how complex discourse develops over time.


 What role do you see for the ASCoR corpcom group in this research?

It is well suited to enhance a broad perspective on communication research, so that researchers benefit from different scientific practices and methodologies, and jointly follow research developments to stimulate renewal in this particular area. For example, to investigate multi-actor communication online, observations but also simulations including forms of serious gaming can be attractive research methods.


In your book, you describe how corporate communication contributes to organizational resilience. Which organization has currently handled an issue particularly well and has mitigated the crisis in such a way it kept functioning pretty well?

This is something that changes over time. In the last era, IBM was considered to have a self-centred ‘lazy cat mentality’, but it has become more alert to changes and diversity. In Finland, the nuclear safety authority STUK is considered alert, and the company Fazer active online and well-tuned to customer trends. But every country has its own examples and such practices could spread more within and outside borders. 

Find more information about Marita Vos here.