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The Korean Air nut rage scandal: Domestic versus international responses to a viral incident

Rebecca Chunghee Kim, Kate Inyoung Yoo and Helal Uddin

Business Horizons, 2018, vol. 61, issue 4, 533-544

Abstract: This article investigates responses of the international and domestic (South Korean) publics to one of the most hotly debated corporate scandals in recent years: Korean Air’s so-called nut rage incident. By analyzing both international and domestic media coverage of the occurrence, we reveal contrasting interpretations between the two. Whereas the South Korean public tends to generate intense debates addressing a lack of ethics in Korean Air’s public communication following the incident, international public criticism is dominated by questions regarding South Korea’s chronic chaebol system and its negative image in relation to South Korea’s unique institutional context. Korean Air’s incongruent notice of the employee as a key stakeholder is also discussed in the international media. Our research findings indicate how, rather than focusing on legal responsibility, the normative attitude of businesses toward stakeholder pressures is crucial as a means of escaping legitimacy-threatening events. The results of this study demonstrate how public responses to a single incident are diverse in global society and offer new insights regarding the importance of ethics in management leadership and public communication after a crisis incident.

Keywords: Korean Air; Nut rage scandal; Ethical communication; Normative stakeholder pressure; Institutional context; Chaebol; Crisis communication (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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