The Impact of Divergent Historical and Cultural Factors on Convergence in Global Communication Practice

Mark Sheehan, Noel Turnbull


Communication practice is increasingly converging around globally consistent approaches and techniques shaped by both globalisation and globalising communications technologies. However, this paper argues, national and regional practice histories and cultural characteristics have shaped, and continue to shape, practice in individual markets. The paper analyses the extent of that these divergent histories and cultures have shaped the structure and practices of the public relations industry in Australia and other countries. The paper challenges the common assumptions about public relations development and industry practice having developed from a predominantly US - based model progressively disseminated globally. It traces the history of public relations in Australia, counter - pointing its distinctive origins, to the US - origin thesis. It also examines the impact of demography and diverse national culture on industry shape and practice, comparing the Australian industry to that of other industries around the world.

It uses mini - case studies of campaigns in specific countries to assess the extent to which they are culturally bound by historical and cultural differences and the extent to which they are capable of being transferred or adapted to individual markets. For instance, assumptions about globally consistent brand identities are contradicted by McDonald’s’ branding practices in markets such as Canada and Japan. The paper also discusses how emerging market PR industries are being shaped by distinctive and divergent cultures and development paths and may create new structural and practice models as the emerging economies becoming dominant internationally. The authors suggest that history and cultural diversity continue, and will continue to, shape national and regional practices.


History; cultural factors; language; politics; crisis management

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Deakin University

ISSN - 1839-8227