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Explicating the information vacuum: stages, intensifications, and implications

Eugene Woon (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: 7 August 2017

Abstract

Purpose

Information vacuums (IVs) arise from organizational failure to satisfy the stakeholders’ informational demands during crises. The purpose of this paper is to expand Pang’s (2013) study of the phenomenon of IV by investigating its nature, stages, intensifying factors and resolution.

Design/methodology/approach

Print and social media data of five recent international crises with apparent IVs were analyzed.

Findings

Poor crisis communications are intensifying factors that induce media hijacks and hypes, distancing, and public confusion. A four-stage model maps the phenomenon into a flow chart describing its development. IV termination begins when organizations either respond with information or provide solutions, results, and/or compensation. Natural and strategic silence were observed and defined.

Research limitations/implications

The study lays the foundation for future examination of how media literacy, governments, and culture, both societal and organizational, induce or exacerbate the phenomenon.

Practical implications

Immediate, adequate, transparent, credible, and consistent crisis responses manage the IV and crisis, diminish the intensification of subsequent crises, and potentially reduce image and reputational damages.

Originality/value

The knowledge of the phenomenon is further developed and new theoretical models are conceptualized to provide researchers and practitioners a clearer understanding of how an IV can develop, persist, deepen, and resolve.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors thank the research help provided by Daryl Chew, Alicia Seah, and Nazreen Muntaj.

Citation

Woon, E. and Pang, A. (2017), "Explicating the information vacuum: stages, intensifications, and implications", Corporate Communications: An International Journal, Vol. 22 No. 3, pp. 329-353. https://doi.org/10.1108/CCIJ-10-2016-0066

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited