Communication EventsPosted: June 7, 2013
Lately I have been spending time researching the communication dynamics between actors who have a “stake” in the climate change debate in the Netherlands. Across several studies, I have noticed two or three highly visible “events” that are meaningful to all actors, from all sides of the debate on climate change. One most notable event was the 2009 so-called “Climategate” affair, in which prominent climate scientist’s emails were hacked and posted publically online. This event received a great deal of attention, both in mainstream and social media outlets. In the Netherlands, this event has led one of the leading climate research institutes to engage in more open organization-stakeholder relationships with so-called “antagonists” of anthropogenic global warming.
So far I have thought of this event mainly as the “background context” of my research on organization-stakeholder communication dynamics. However, this event has come up repeatedly in the conversations I have observed and shared with my research participants. It seems that Climategate was an important “turning point” in the debate, which has meaning to a broad array of organizational actors. I cannot help but wonder, is there something more significant about these kinds of highly visible events? Do they play a role in the communicative constitution of organization? How do these kinds of events compare (if at all) to the kinds of “communication events” that CCO scholars investigate?
I do not have many answers to these questions so far. My inclination is that visible public events may be important to explaining the constitution of organization-stakeholder relationships over time. In other words, maybe the meanings of these events constitute an organizational trajectory. I am open to hearing from other CCO folks. How has your own research approached these kinds of events? What is your opinion of the relationship between highly visible public events and the communicative constitution of organization?