Associate Professor Margaret Brunton staff profile picture

Contact details +64 (09) 414 0800  ext. 43312

Associate Professor Margaret Brunton BSocSc, MMGT (Dist), PhD Waik.

Associate Professor

School of Communication, Journalism and Marketing

Margaret Brunton's research focuses on the role of communication in facilitating a sustainable health sector.  Prior to entering academia, Margaret worked as an RN in clinical and management roles in the public and private health sector, caring for various cultural groups in a clinical setting. Subsequent research interests include the influence of the health reforms on practice, the provision of services, and the multicultural workplace in the health sector.  Research focuses not only on the communication practice of health professionals within public health organisations, but also on those the system is designed to serve.


Contact details

  • Ph: 414-0800, ext 43312
    Location: QB3.39, Quad B
    Campus: Albany


  • PhD - A changing dialogue of health communication in a screening mammography programme in New Zealand (2001)

Research Expertise

Research Interests

Communication within organisational settings

Communication management in healthcare organisations

Intercultural communication within diverse organisations

Persuasive public health messaging


21st Century Citizenship

Area of Expertise

Field of research codes
Health Care Administration (111709): Medical And Health Sciences (110000): Public Health and Health Services (111700)


Communication within organisational settings

Health sector communication management

Intercultural communication within diverse workplaces

Persuasive public health messaging

Research Projects

Summary of Research Projects

Position Current Completed
Project Leader 1 4

Current Projects

Project Title: Improving RN's cross cultural communication in culturally diverse team or work settings - McCutchan Trust Scholarship

The existing project is the first comprehensive study of the cross-cultural interface between RNs in the NZ health sector. The purpose is to help improve the workplace experience and retention of RNs, a large, diverse and important professional group. In turn, patient safety itself relies predominantly on effective communication in teamwork, which is rendered more complex with cross-cultural teams. However, the question arises of what influences are generic across geographical boundaries and which are unique to cultural contexts. In the NZ context, we have applied a mixed method approach to identify ways to improve cross-cultural communication, team functioning and work satisfaction within a diverse population of RNs in the New Zealand workplace. If possible, we would like to replicate this research project with Phase 1 interviews to obtain data to inform the development of the phase 2 online survey. However, if this is not possible, even to run the current online survey to obtain responses from a sample of UK RNs would provide valuable insight. The proposed timeline would be mid-2017 or a timeframe that is suitable for the sector. Although much research has focussed on the experience of migrant health professionals entering the public health sector, this study incorporates the collective experiences of interaction with the host culture.
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Date Range: 2016 - 2018

Funding Body: Nursing Education and Research Foundation

Project Team:

Completed Projects

Project Title: The role of cultural competency in identity formation and acculturation of overseas trained Registered Nurses into public health service organisations in New Zealand

This pilot study explores the communication interface between internationally qualified nurses (IQNs) and NZ qualified nurses (NZRNs) in the health sector. A sustainable public health service depends on an increasingly diverse workplace, including the retention of IQNs. Although considerable work has examined aspects of the experiences of migrant nurses, there has been no available information about the implications of the communication interface in the workplace. The data from the pilot study informs an online questionnaire to identify how levels of cultural competence and individual, social and professional identity influence the acculturation and skill development of IQNs in adapting to the demands of the public health sector in NZ. Parallel studies are in progress with collaborators in Australia, the UK, Dubai, Israel and the USA in order to facilitate a cohesive, effective and enduring international workforce of RNs in the public health service.
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Date Range: 2013 - 2013

Funding Body: Massey University

Project Team:

Project Title: Start 3 studies and write up others

The first project explores the under-researched area of communication of CSR to internal stakeholders. This two-phase study first comprised interviews with CSR managers in large organisations who were members of the Sustainable Business Council of NZ. The interview data informed phase two, the development of an online survey distributed to staff in the same organisations. The results illustrate some disjuncture between what CSR managers believe they communicate, and perceptions of their staff. Managers often fail to identify how central it is that CSR values are communicated, understood and internalised by staff. The second activity was to extend the national Communication Management competency framework developed using practitioners, employers and academics. Data was analysed to investigate professional identity issues and barriers to performance. An international project on comparative competencies also commenced with researchers in Europe. The third project investigated a number of aspects of the structural management of the public health service. First, data involved with NZ¿s first-ever junior doctors¿ strike was analysed and submitted for publication. Second, an investigation was carried out to analyse the Labtests debacle, and consider the implications. Media sources were also analysed to evaluate the political construction of the way that `quality¿ in the health service is communicated, compared to the lived experience of health professionals. Five conference papers and publication of six peer-reviewed journal articles resulted from this research grant.
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Date Range: 2009 - 2010

Funding Body: Massey University

Project Team:

Project Title: A communication needs analysis

Research was carried out in partnership with the Public Relations Institute of NZ to ascertain the competencies required to be a Communication Management (CM) practitioner in New Zealand. The resulting stakeholder-defined blueprint identified the competencies needed to prepare graduates for the best possible fit with workplace requirements. Second, the blueprint also affords a useful tool to inform effective and efficient workforce planning, recruitment, training and career development paths in CM practice. This project has resulted in three publications in top-ranked journals.
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Date Range: 2007 - 2008

Funding Body: Massey University

Project Team:

Supervision and Teaching

Summary of Doctoral Supervision

Position Current Completed
Supervisor 1 1

Current Doctoral Supervision

Supervisor of:

Completed Doctoral Supervision

Supervisor of:

  • 2011 - Suzanne Joy Flannagan - Doctor of Business and Administration
    Enabling Promise Delivery: The influence of internal marketing communication

Media and Links


  • 12 Oct 2014 - Radio
    Business Jargon with Margaret Brunton
    Radio interview with Graeme Hill, Radio Live. The interview explored reasons for the overuse of business jargon, and possible reasons for managers adopting simplistic terms which integrate into everyd
  • 09 May 2014 - Newspaper
    Beef up your business language
    Interview with John Anthony at Fairfax media regarding the use of business jargon in NZ organisations

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