Employee Profile

Maria Isaksson

Associate Professor - Department of Communication and Culture


I am an Associate Professor at the BI Norwegian Business School. I have a Ph.D. degree from Åbo Akademi University from 2000 with a thesis on cross-cultural argumentation, and a Master's degree from Purdue University. I was a faculty member of the English Department, Åbo Akademi University, and worked as teaching assistant in the ESL Rhetoric program at Purdue University. After joining BI in 1997, I was head of Department of Communication, Culture and Languages in 1998-2004.

As a board member of the Nordic Network for Intercultural Communication I co-chaired the conference in 1999, and was co-chair for the 8th European Convention of the Association of Business Communication.

Research areas
My primary research interests are in leadership rhetoric, political and religious rhetoric, corporate website rhetoric, organizational identity discourse, cross-cultural communication. My current research focuses on leadership rhetoric, epideictic rhetoric, corporate website rhetoric.

Teaching areas
I teach rhetoric and leadership communication in executive programs, both Master's and Bachelor's.

Area of Expertise


Isaksson, Maria & Solvoll, Mona K (2022)

The rhetoric of the Norwegian government and health authorities during the COVID-19 pandemic

Journal of Communication Management Doi: 10.1108/JCOM-08-2022-0100

Purpose The purpose of this study is to examine the identification and collaboration rhetoric of the Norwegian government and public health authorities during the pandemic. The aim is to show whether and how actors use strategies and themes of identification, and whether they build identification with their publics. Design/methodology/approach The study combines qualitative and quantitative methods. Six identification strategies were identified through manual text analysis of press statements; word counts of each strategy were registered electronically to access quantitative data of individual actors. Findings The three strategies reflecting values, the two strategies reflecting division and disagreement and the strategy reflecting change showed almost equal frequencies. The strategy of shaping community, serving the function of change, and the division strategy, demonstrating identification through dissociation, were the most frequent strategies. Politicians preferred the collaboration strategy, while health experts preferred the strategy of concern and recognition. Originality/value The six identification strategies extend the understanding of leadership crisis communication and contemporary rhetoric as community-building discourse aiming for speaker–audience collaboration. The study demonstrates that division and disagreement are equally essential components of crisis communication as values and change. When actors differ in choice of strategy, themes and publics, they may still come across as coordinated and unified in their calls for solidarity, collective efforts and common understanding.

Isaksson, Maria & Flyvholm Jørgensen, Poul Erik (2018)

Connecting with Citizens. The Emotional Rhetoric of Norwegian and Danish Municipal Websites

Nordicom Review, 39(1), s. 111- 128. Doi: 10.2478/nor-2018-0005 - Full text in research archive

This article suggests that current research on the use of new digital technologies by the public sector should move beyond its focus on their facility for e-government and e-democracy. It is important to observe that the same technologies can also be a resource for developing public enthusiasm and identification with local authorities by adopting a rhetoric of friendship. The backdrop of the study is the forthcoming Norwegian reform of municipal structure, informed by a similar reform in Denmark in 2006/2007. If Norway, like Denmark, significantly reduces its number of municipalities, the majority of municipalities will undergo significant change and risk losing citizens’ sense of local identity. Each new municipality will need to create meaningful community building to ease the public’s fear of losing their good life. The study examines how municipalities reach out to connect with their publics, and whether they employ emotional and engaging discourse to achieve this. Our data consist of twenty Norwegian and twenty Danish municipal websites.

Isaksson, Maria (2016)

Ytringsanstendighet. Norsk utenrikspolitikk i møte med moskéens retoriske ytringsrom

Alm, Kristian; Brown, Richard Mark & Røyseng, Sigrid (red.). Kommunikasjon og ytringsfrihet i organisasjoner

Jørgensen, Poul Erik Flyvholm & Isaksson, Maria (2015)

The compassionate organisation: Contesting the rhetoric of goodwill in public sector value statements

International Journal of Public Sector Management, 28(1), s. 72- 83. Doi: 10.1108/IJPSM-09-2013-0132

Isaksson, Maria (2011)

Talets gyllene ögonblick. Retorik för fest och politik – en norsk och amerikansk fallstudie

Drønen, Tomas Sundnes; Fretheim, Kjetil & Skjortnes, Marianne (red.). Forståelsens gylne øyeblikk : festskrift til Øyvind Dahl

Jørgensen, Poul Erik Flyvholm & Isaksson, Maria (2010)

Credibility in Corporate Discourse

Trosborg, Anna (red.). Pragmatics across Languages and Cultures. Handbooks of Pragmatics

Isaksson, Maria & Jørgensen, Poul Erik Flyvholm (2010)

The rhetoric of corporate mission statements: Virtues and emotions for the market

Kelly-Holmes, Helen & Mautner, Gerlinde (red.). Language and the Market

Isaksson, Maria & Jørgensen, Poul Erik Flyvholm (2010)

Communicating Corporate Ethos on the Web: The Self-Presentation of PR Agencies

Journal of Business Communication (JBC), 41(2), s. 119- 140.

Jørgensen, Poul Erik Flyvholm & Isaksson, Maria (2008)

Building credibility in international banking and financial markets: A study of how corporate reputations are managed through image advertising

Corporate Communications. An International Journal, 13(4), s. 365- 379.

Svennevig, Jan & Isaksson, Maria (2006)

Communication strategies in a joint venture between the Nordic and the Post-Soviet countries

Dahl, Øyvind, Jensen, Iben, Nynäs, Peter (eds.). Bridges of understanding. Perspectives on intercultural communication

Isaksson, Maria (2005)

Ethos and Pathos Representations in Mission Statements: Identifying Virtues and Emotions in an Emerging Business Genre

Trosborg, Anna & Jørgensen, Poul Erik Flyvholm (red.). Trosborg Anna & Flyvholm Jørgensen, Poul Erik (Eds.) Business Discourse. Texts and Contexts

Svennevig, Jan & Isaksson, Maria (2005)

Kulturell og kommunikativ kompetanse som suksessfaktorer å finne tonen med russiske handelspartnere

Magma - Tidsskrift for økonomi og ledelse, s. 54- 61.

Isaksson, Maria (2021)

Collaboration rhetoric of the Norwegian Government and Health Authorities during the Corona Crisis

[Academic lecture]. Euprera 2021 Annual Congress.

Isaksson, Maria (2018)

Beyond idealized visions? A longitudinal study of visionary leadership rhetoric.

[Academic lecture]. EUPRERA 2018.

Bang, Tor & Isaksson, Maria (2017)

The Listhaug Doctrine: A Strict and Fair Immigration Policy?

[Academic lecture]. The Sixth “Rhetoric in Society” Conference of the RSE.

Isaksson, Maria & Jørgensen, Flyvholm, Poul Erik (2016)

Brexit: Coming to Terms with a Dominant Rhetoric of Fear.

[Academic lecture]. Media and Politics in Times of Crisis and Change.

Svennevig, Jan & Isaksson, Maria (2014)

Språk, retorikk og ledelse

Brønn, Peggy Simcic & Arnulf, Jan Ketil (red.). Kommunikasjon for ledere og organisasjoner

Isaksson, Maria (2012)

The public value of epideictic rhetoric. Opportunities and challenges for the academic community

[Academic lecture]. Docent prøveforelesning.

Isaksson, Maria & Jørgensen Flyvholm, Poul Erik (2012)

Visionary rhetoric in the Danish and Norwegian Prime Ministers’ New Year’s address 2012

[Academic lecture]. NIC Nordic Network for Intercultural Communication..

Isaksson, Maria (2012)

Beyond the boundaries of politics and religion. The rhetoric of identification in Norwegian foreign affairs

[Academic lecture]. ABC (Association of Business Communication) Europe Conference..

Isaksson, Maria & Jørgensen Flyvholm, Poul Erik (2012)

Between moral leadership and executive authority. Visionary rhetoric in the Danish and Norwegian Prime Ministers' New Year's address

[Academic lecture]. NORDKOMM 6. Nordic Research Seminar on Communication..

Isaksson, Maria (2011)

Ledarskapets ethos och det epideiktiska mötet

[Academic lecture]. Gästföreläsning för masterstudenter.

Isaksson, Maria (2011)

Visioner i nordisk politisk retorik - på jakt efter en modell

[Academic lecture]. Vetenskapligt forskningseminar för doktorander.

Isaksson, Maria & Jørgensen Flyvholm, Poul Erik (2011)

Contesting the rhetoric of goodwill in public and private sector value statements: Benevolence or competence?

[Academic lecture]. NORDKOMM 5 - joint seminar (Aarhus School of Business, Aarhus University & Norwegian School of Management BI).

Isaksson, Maria & Jørgensen, Poul Erik Flyvholm (2010)

Goodwill online? Rhetorical strategies in public and corporate discourse: commonalities and divergences

[Academic lecture]. Association for Business Communication, 10th European Convention.

Isaksson, Maria (2010)

Visionary rhetoric in political speech. Do visions and charisma have a rhetorical expression on the Nordic political scene?

[Academic lecture]. Fjärde Nordiska Retorikkonferensen.

Isaksson, Maria & Jørgensen, Poul Erik F. (2009)

A journey through credibility in corporate discourse

[Academic lecture]. Nordic Research Seminar on Communication 2009.

Isaksson, Maria (2009)

Visionary rhetoric in political speech. The case of President Barack Obama and the Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affair

[Academic lecture]. 16th NIC Conference on Intercultural Communication.

Isaksson, Maria & Jørgensen, Poul Erik F. (2008)

Credibility discourse of PR agencies: A cross-cultural study of corporate ethos on the web

[Academic lecture]. Conference on Corporate Communications.

Academic Degrees
Year Academic Department Degree
2000 Åbo Akademi University Ph.D.
1983 Purdue University Master of Science
1980 Åbo Akademi University M.A.
Work Experience
Year Employer Job Title
2012 - Present Åbo Akademi University, Dept of English Docent
2004 - Present Norwegian Business School Associate Professor
1997 - 2004 BI Norwegian Business School Head of Department
1983 - 1987 Åbo Akademi University, Dept of English Teaching Assistant
1983 - 1985 Åbo Akademi University, Dept of English Research Scholar
1981 - 1983 Purdue University, Indiana, USA Teaching Assistant