Social issue qua wicked problems The role of strategic communication in social issues management Academic Article uri icon


  • Purpose The purpose of this paper is to describe the need to theorize firms involvement in social issues and propose the social issues management model as a framework for analyzing the communication processes underlying social issues management. An application of the new approach is illustrated through a brief case analysis. Design/methodology/approach The paper is conceptual and emphasizes theory building for firms involvement in social issues management. Findings The paper describes modifications to the general issues management model that can be adopted to reflect the social issues management process and contemporary digital media environments. Practical implications The paper can benefit theory and practice of social issues management by describing how specific communication strategies and digital media use may affect social issues management. Social implications Because firms increasingly are motivated or urged by stakeholders to take stands on social issues, understanding how they can perform the role of social issue manager can enhance their potential for contributing to positive social change. Originality/value The paper provides a much needed update to the models of issues management used in strategic communication. The new model accounts for the increasing pressure on firms to address social issues and the role of digital communication channels in that process.

published proceedings


altmetric score

  • 0.5

author list (cited authors)

  • Coombs, W. T., & Holladay, S. J.

citation count

  • 37

complete list of authors

  • Coombs, W Timothy||Holladay, Sherry J

publication date

  • February 2018