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«13TH INTERNATIONAL PUBLIC RELATIONS RESEARCH CONFERENCE “Ethical Issues for Public Relations Practice in a Multicultural World” Holiday Inn ...»

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Future Directions and Conclusion There are several limitations in this study that need to be further addressed in future research. First of all, due to the difficulty of having access to any professional association membership directory, we were not able to conduct systematic random sampling. Although a snowball sampling technique helped us identify qualified participants, its non-probability nature does not allow any generalization of our findings to the population of Chinese public relations 475 practitioners. Researchers should continue exploring this area and improve the quality of the sampling process to minimize biases. Second, as an initial quantitative research testing the validity of existing contingency matrix, questions remain such as what could be the unique and/or new factors that need to be identified so as to provide more insights about Chinese PR practitioners. In-depth interviews of Chinese practitioners as well as follow-up practitioner surveys need to be conducted to triangulate the new findings.

Interestingly, personal ethics, as a dominant variable identified by Shin and her colleagues in studying practitioners in the U.S. and South Korea, was not indicated by our respondents as one of most influential variables of their practice. Future research on ethical communications, especially in the conflict management context, needs to further explore how Chinese practitioners define personal ethics and how the impact of their personal ethics is influenced by other factors.

In conclusion, by understanding the dynamic influences of contingent variables and factors at the organizational and individual levels, and along the internal and external dimensions, our study provides insights on how Chinese practitioners make strategic decisions for their organizations and clients. The contingency theory of strategic conflict management can be effectively applied to Chinese public relations practice to help practitioners understand and improve their involvement of strategic communication practitioners with a more sophisticated understanding of the complex communication environment, which will eventually equip Chinese practitioners with higher communication competency in handling different conflict situations.



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479 Table 1: Contingency Matrix in Chinese Public Relations Practice

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4.80 4.60 4.40 4.20

–  –  –

4.80 4.70 4.60 4.50 4.40 4.30

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The T-Mobile Crisis Response to Accusations of Disclosure of Confidential Data and Spying on its Top Management: Developing a Paradigm of Global Crisis Management Response Strategies

–  –  –

Roxana Maiorescu Department of Communication 2257 BRNG Purdue University West-Lafayette, IN, 47907 Email: maiorescu@purdue.edu Phone: 540-267-5783

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“Stick together” is the slogan that has been undergirding T-Mobile, one of the most important GSM providers in world. Also known in Germany as the “Pink Giant” due to the color of its logo, T-Mobile is part of the largest phone company in Europe, Deutsche Telekom, and currently operates in countries such as Austria, Croatia, The Czech Republic, Hungary, Macedonia, Montenegro, The Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, UK, and The United States.With a profit of € 42,8 billion in 2008 (“Konzern-Zwischbericht,” 2009, pag.3) T-Mobile’s and Deutsche Telekom’s success seemed unshakable.

Yet, “sticking together” became harder in May 2008 when the German magazine Der Spiegel revealed serious issues within T-Mobile that triggered the telecom giant to face a crisis that engulfed the entire country into a national fervor (“Phone Company under Fire,” 2008, para.

3). Der Spiegel announced that confidential information of 17 million T-Mobile customers was being sold on the internet. The data included email addresses, telephone numbers, as well as permanent addresses of VIPs, Members of Parliament, and government officials. Der Spiegel investigated the matter further and found out that T-Mobile’s top management was aware that confidential data had been stolen between 2005-2006, but decided at that time to perform internal investigations and not to go public (“Spy Scandal Grows,” 2008, para.3). Further on,TMobile reacted to the negative media coverage at the beginning of May 2008 and assured publics that the data available on the internet had not yet been misused and that, internal investigations

were being conducted in order to see who or what had led to the information disclosure:

At the end of May 2008, Der Spiegel published further information that deepened the T-Mobile confidential data crisis. Journalists from Der Spiegel wrote that the internal investigation conducted by the GSM giant to determine how the information had been disclosed, involved spying on top level management, supervisory board members, and journalists who covered Deutsche Telekom. The news regarding the fact that the company hired the detective company Desa spurred enormous stir. Additionally, Der Spiegel revealed that Desa was comprised of former members of the Security Service of former Eastern Germany, called Stasi (Staatssicherheit). Being a subsidiary of DT, T-Mobile is controlled by the German government through a 32 percent stake. As a result, the German Government demanded an exigent investigation and described the spying operation as a “serious breach of trust” (“Phone Giant in Germany Stirs a Furor,”2008, para. 4).

Due to its development, the T-Mobile crisis echoed the corporate spying scandal that Hewlett-Packard (HP) faced in 2006 in California, when HP hired investigators in order to obtain the phone records of journalists who covered the corporation (“Phone Giant in Germany Stirs a Furor,”2008, para.6). Yet, the T-Mobile scandal differs from the one of HP since it carries particular resonance in Germany, where people are cautious of private information ever since the state-sanctioned snooping of the Nazi and Communist regimes (“Phone Giant in Germany Stirs a Furor,” 2008, para.9). In this respect, Lutz Hachmeister, director of the Institute for Media Policy

in Berlin, asserted:

–  –  –

As the scandal evolved, more information became available to the public. For example, the Financial Times Deutschland operations of spying within DT date back to 2000, when Tasso Enzweiler, a journalist who was reporting for the same paper had been spied on with hidden cameras (“Spy Scandal Grows, 2008, para. 5.).

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