– The purpose of this paper is to discuss the evolving role of religion in issue management and introduces a case in Malaysia to examine the emerging corporate risk when western multinationals fall foul of the precepts of Islam.
– The paper details events when Cadbury in Malaysia faced online rumours that its locally made chocolate was contaminated by porcine DNA and examines the corporate and community response in the context of issue management, international public relations, cross-cultural communication theory and apologia theory.
– The case illustrates that for a multinational company doing business in a Muslim country, an issue response strategy must be based on sound local knowledge and understanding of the religious implications.
– Although issues in the public arena frequently have a political and legal dimension, a religious element can make issue management even more challenging. Internationalisation of both business and issues has increased the profile of Islamic values, and the case shows the practical effectiveness of a calm and considered response in the face of extreme provocation.
– While western public relations literature has highlighted cases of strongly held familiar Christian values driving issues onto the national issue management agenda, this paper identifies how Islamic precepts now represent an increasingly important consideration for modern risk and issue managers.