Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Degree Granting Department

Mass Communications

Major Professor

Kelli S. Burns, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Kelly Page Werder, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Scott Liu, Ph.D.


situational crisis communication theory, nation branding, network analysis


On September 18, 2015, the U.S. Environmental Standards Agency (EPA) filed a Notice of Violation of the Clean Air Act to the Volkswagen Group regarding software used to intentionally deceive the EPA’s emissions tests.

Social media is an efficient way for organizations to release information and respond quickly during a crisis. Not only are organizations posting on social media sites, but consumers are increasingly turning to social media sites, such as Twitter, during crises to share information and opinions.

The VW crisis may impact Germany’s nation brand, as predicted by more recent country-of-origin literature. The country-of-origin effect occurs when the reputation of a country impacts consumer perceptions of products produced by that country. When consumers had favorable perceptions of a country, Xu and Wu (2015) found the country’s products were more likely to receive positive after-crisis reactions.

German products are considered to be of high quality. “So, in the case of Germany, the development of its national brand identity is an integral part of the growth and development of its exports, the ‘Made in Germany’ label that has a world-class reputation,” (Joseph, 2014, p. 4). A content analysis was performed to examine the international conversation on Twitter through the analysis of tweets that included at least one of the following hashtags: #VWGate, #DieselGate, #VWscandal or #Volkswagenscandal.