Trends in Communication Ethics and Communicators’ Blindness to Ethical Issues

Lecture 3 - NORA online Lecture Series

  • Starts:11:30, 18 September 2020
  • Ends:12:30, 18 September 2020
  • Location:Zoom
  • Contact:#NORA (nora@bi.no )

The Nordic Alliance for Communication & Management (#NORA)
Trends in Communication Ethics and Communicators’ Blindness to Ethical Issues

According to the 2020 European Communication Monitor, 65% of European communication professionals encounter one or more ethical challenges in their day-to-day work, however 40% indicate they have never participated in any kind of ethics training. In this third lecture in the NORA series, we look at what this means in relationship to communicators’ ethics training and their ethical blindness.

As organizations increasingly aim to meet formal ethical codes of conduct or incorporate ethical standards such as the UN sustainable development goals, measuring communication against ethical standards must become common practice. There is evidence that the more someone is aware of ethical codes of conduct, the more challenges they perceive. It is therefore crucial that communication professionals get training and have guidelines to help them overcome their ‘ethical blindness’. The results of the ECM show that many guidelines used by communication professionals are derived either from professional organizations, provided internally by the organization, or based on personal values and beliefs. The question is if they are relevant, adequate and effective.

We compare the sources and guidelines that communicators in the Nordic countries (Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland) use as a basis for identifying and communicating ethical challenges, and compare those to other European regions. In a critical discussion with Therese Manus, Managing Director of the Norwegian Communication Association, and Henrik Rydenfelt, chair of the Council for Ethics of Communication in Finland, we discuss the implications for practitioners.


Suzanne van Gils

Suzanne van Gils, PhD, is a lecturer in management communication and ethics. Her research interests focus on (im)moral behavior in organizations, identity processes, and leader-employee interactions. Recent projects focus among others on ethical leadership communication and meaningful work. Before joining BI in 2019, Suzanne has worked as an assistant professor at Maastricht University, and as a post-doctoral research fellow at Kühne Logistics University in Hamburg. She earned her PhD at Rotterdam School of Management. Suzanne has published in top tier journals such as Human Relations, Leadership Quarterly, and Journal of Business ethics.

Henrik Rydenfelt

Henrik Rydenfelt is a dozent of practical philosophy and media and communication studies at the University of Helsinki, and a researcher of the ethics of communication and social and political philosophy. He has conducted research and published on ethical questions in communication, journalism, social media, scientific research and technology. Henrik holds various editorial positions, among others for Nordic Studies in Pragmatism, and Pragmatism Today. In 2016-2019 he served as vice chair and chair of the Council for Ethics of Communication in Finland, and is currently a member of the Council for Mass Media.

Jesper Falkheimer

Jesper Falkheimer (Ph.D.) is Professor at Department of Strategic Communication, Lund University, Sweden, and Professor II at Kristiana University College, Oslo, Norway. His research interests are strategic communication in general, and more specific, crisis communication, public relations, communication management, terrorism and place branding. Since several years he has combined research with university management positions and is now Executive Director for Division for Research, Collaboration and Innovation at Lund University, after six years as Rector for Campus Helsingborg. He is Editor-in-Chief for Journal of Communication Management, Honorary Fellow at Hong Kong Polytechnic University, and an executive board member of one of the major communication agencies in Sweden. He is the author and co-author of over 115 publications. He is co-editor (main editors Robert Heath and Winni Johansen) for International Encyclopedia of Strategic Communication (2018, Wiley), and recently published the textbook Strategic Communication: an Introduction (with M. Heide, Routledge).

Therese Manus

Therese Manus is Managing Director of the Norwegian Communication Association, which has more than 4000 professional members from public and private sector. The association offers ethical advice to its member and in 2019 the ethical principles for the members of the association were updated after a thorough process within the organisation. Manus has been working nearly 20 years within media and communications. She is the Head of the jury for The Norwegian News Agency’s Language Award and holds, and has hold several board positions, amongst others six years as a Board Member for the association Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communication Management (GA). Manus has a degree in Media Studies from The University of Westminster in London and a Master of Management within PR Leadership and Strategic Communication from BI Norwegian Business School. In addition, she has several subjects from the University of Oslo.


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