Culture and Crisis Communication: Nestle India's Maggi Noodles Case

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Journal of International Management


© 2017 Elsevier Inc. Extant theoretical paradigms in the field of crisis communication are organization-centric and do not adequately recognize the role of culture. The purpose of this essay is to analyze a crisis faced by Nestle India using the framework of global public relations which defines culture broadly to include political, economic, media, societal, and activist cultures. Our analysis revealed that a multinational corporation with over a century of presence in the country struggled to align itself to the complexities of the cultures of the host country. In the case of Nestle India, whereas environmental variables such as political economy and Westernization of urban India boosted the growth of its instant noodles, the multinational also struggled to cope with the rise of media corporatization, activist pressure and the vagaries of regulatory enforcement not to speak of cultural nationalism. It is evident that Nestlé's crisis response was governed more by its traditional corporate culture than by an ability to keep pace with the changing demands of its environment, leading to the amplification of an issue into a crisis. The study concludes that multinationals that ignore culture will be forced to pay a heavy price both in terms of reputation and the bottom line.

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