Crisis Communication in the Banking Sector: Nordea's Communication Strategy in Relation to the Panama Papers Leak

Julie Riber Schifter

Student thesis: Master thesis


Despite the importance of employing ethical business practices in the banking industry, many financial corporations and banks seem to miss out on the opportunity to do so in order to be perceived as a moral en ethical entity in society. Based on Nordea’s crisis concerning the leak of the Panama Papers, I have analyzed Nordea’s crisis communication strategy employing a social constructivist approach and using Dr. W. Timothy Coombs’ Situational Crisis Communication Theory. The analysis shows that Nordea’s crisis communication was not appropriate due to contextual circumstances and because of a discrepancy between their stakeholder’s perception of the crisis and Nordea’s own perception of the crisis. The thesis conclude that Nordea should have acknowledged responsibility for the crisis in order to restore their reputation and regain legitimacy. Moreover it suggests going beyond CSR and incorporate ethical perspectives in the core business of a bank by reforming the conventional banks’ business model so that the focus is changed in direction of structural change rather than strategic change as a way to mitigate future crises. Lastly, it suggests employing ethical crisis communication and that an ethics of justice approach had been beneficial in the attempt to save Nordea’s reputation.

EducationsCand.ling.merc Erhvervssprog og International Erhvervskommunikation (Multikulturel Kommunikation i Organisationer), (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2017
Number of pages72