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Case study: Coca-Cola Scare in Europe

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Xiaowei Wang

on 2 October 2012

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Transcript of Case study: Coca-Cola Scare in Europe

Cultural Variance as a Challenge to Global Public Relations:
A Case Study of the Coca-Cola Scare in Europe On 14 June 1999, school children in Belgium became ill after drinking Coca-Cola. Responses from the Governments and Public Belgium
Spain
France Denmark
Norway
Sweden Cultural Variation Uncertainty avoidance Power distance Public Responses in High Uncertainty and High Power Distance Nations Public Responses in Low Uncertainty and Low Power Distance Nations Agreed to pull the drinks from the shelves and complied with the order of recalling.
However
Maintained that independent lab tests did not show any harmful substances in their products;
Did not accept any responsibility;
Nine days had passed before Coca-cola issued a public apology and the CEO acknowledged the problem. Response from Coca-Cola What can international organizations learn from this crisis? Cultural variability is a fact of life. International organizations need cultural interpreters. Organizations need to avoid ethnocentrism in their communication strategies. Taylor, M. 2000,Public Relations Review, 26(3), pp. 277-293. Hofstede, G. 1984, Culture's Consequences: International Differences in Work-Related Values, Newbury Park, CA: Sage. Xiaowei Wang Masculinity-femininity Individualism-collectivism The way that humans cope with ambiguity;
Cultures that have strong uncertainty avoidance are active, aggressive, emotional, security-seeking, and intolerant;
Tend to have more written rules, an elaborate legal system and a belief that deviance from the expected norm is dangerous. Uncertainty Avoidance Vitell, S. J., Nwachukwu, S. L., & Barnes, J. H. 1993, 'The effect of culture on ethical decision-making: An application of Hofstede's Typology', Journal of Business Ethics, vol. 12, p. 754. Power Distance A work-related value that measures the interpersonal power or influence between boss and subordinate as perceived by the least powerful of the two;
A construct that measures inequality between the "haves" and "have-nots" across a culture;
In the cultures with high power distance, the public may distrust the powerful organizations and tend to blame them for their ills. Hofstede, G. 1984, Culture's Consequences: International Differences in Work-Related Values, Newbury Park, CA: Sage. Hofstede, G. 1984, Culture's Consequences: International Differences in Work-Related Values, Newbury Park, CA: Sage. Taylor, M. 2000, 'Cultural Variance as a Challenge to Global Public Relations: A Case Study of the Coca-Cola Scare in Europe', Public Relations Review, 26(3), pp. 281. Belgian, French, and Spanish consumers not only stopped drinking traditional Coke products, but also stopped buying related Coca-Cola brand products. The Interaction of Uncertainty Avoidance and Power Distance in Crisis In high uncertainty avoidance nations people seek rules, rituals, and laws to guide behaviors;
In high power distance nations, people respect those who hold positions of power;
When the two dimensions of culture interact, those who have power are held to a strict standard of conduct;
If these people, or the organizations that they lead, break the socially constructed norms, then the public (those with less power) will seek retribution and accountability. The Belgian, French and Spanish governments reacted very strongly, as they did not want to look like they were not aggressively protecting the
public health. No actions were taken against Cola-cola, as these nations are more similar to Coca-cola's cultural norms in power distance and uncertainty avoidance.
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