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Communication Ethics in a Connected World

Research in Public Relations and Organisational Communication

Edited By Andrea Catellani, Ansgar Zerfass and Ralph Tench

What are the main ethical challenges for strategic communication and public relations professionals today? How can researchers help in understanding and dealing with these challenges in a complex and interconnected world? This book offers some answers to these questions, based on contributions by researchers from different European countries and other continents. The chapters of the first section focus on general concepts about communication and public relations ethics as well as corporate social responsibility. Three sections then deal with: the specific situation of communication and PR ethics in various European countries; the evolution of ethical skills of communication professionals; and the interaction between communication ethics and the public sphere. The final two sections offer insights on recent research in public relations, like employee communication and engagement, mentoring in public relations and the evolution of media relations and social media communication.
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Ethical Hateholders and Negative Engagement. A Challenge for Organisational Communication


Ethical Hateholders and Negative Engagement

A Challenge for Organisational Communication


University of Jyväskylä, Finland

Negative stakeholder emotions have become an urgent topic for organisations. Negatively engaged stakeholders or hateholders are challenging due to their strong emotions and ability to harm the organisation through sharing negative experiences online. Hateholder behaviour affects organisational reputation and may also cause increasing negative word-of-mouth, activism and boycotts. This preliminary conceptual study looked at what causes negative engagement online and turns stakeholders into hateholders. Through a literature review on stakeholder and customer anger, the chapter asks what role organisations and ethics play in creating stakeholder anger. By applying the TARES framework, the goal was to distinguish different ethical breaches of organisations. The results yielded that most common organisational faults included lack of respect and fairness. Results also showed that in most hateholder cases, the organisations themselves were somehow to blame. This seems to highlight the lack of strategic thinking of organisations. Thus, the chapter also calls for more dialogue and interaction with stakeholders in cases of anger.


Recent research has suggested the public sphere to be increasingly established, maintained, and controlled by organisations (Bentele & Nothaft, 2010). While this implies the need for stakeholders to better engage with organisations, stakeholder engagement has only recently received attention from scholars (van Doorn et al., 2010). Stakeholder engagement matters as meanings are created through interaction with the organisation, and engagement...

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