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Communicating crisis: how culture influences image repair in Western and Asian governments

Yvonne Siew‐Yoong Low (Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore)
Jeni Varughese (Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore)
Augustine Pang (Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore)

Corporate Communications: An International Journal

ISSN: 1356-3289

Article publication date: 9 August 2011

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to seek to understand the differences in image repair strategies adopted by two governments that operate in the Western and Asian societies when faced with similar crises.

Design/methodology/approach

Textual analyses are presented of communication of Hurricane Katrina and Typhoon Morakot by the Taiwanese and US governments, respectively.

Findings

Faced with similar accusations of slow response, the Asian culture, represented by the Taiwanese Government, used predominantly mortification and corrective action strategies. The Western culture, represented by the US Government, used predominantly bolstering and defeasibility and a mixed bag of other strategies such as shifting the blame and attack the accuser.

Research limitations/implications

A limitation of the study is that it depends on news reports, instead of news releases and speeches, for analysis. However, given the rapidity and volatility in the unfolding drama of each of the two crises, many of the comments made were to the media and not in prepared speeches. It is a limitation the authors accept.

Practical implications

Strategies reflected Hofstede's uncertainty avoidance and power distance dimensions. These dimensions should be considered when designing communication strategies in different cultures so as to be culturally sensitive and relevant.

Originality/value

Few, if any, studies on image repair theory have addressed the role of culture in strategies used. This study fills the gap by integrating Hofstede's cultural dimensions theory.

Keywords

Citation

Siew‐Yoong Low, Y., Varughese, J. and Pang, A. (2011), "Communicating crisis: how culture influences image repair in Western and Asian governments", Corporate Communications: An International Journal, Vol. 16 No. 3, pp. 218-242. https://doi.org/10.1108/13563281111156880

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited