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Article

Alexandros Paraskevas

To offer a complexity‐informed framework for the design of an effective organizational crisis response system.

Abstract

Purpose

To offer a complexity‐informed framework for the design of an effective organizational crisis response system.

Design/methodology/approach

A narrative analysis of the crisis response in a hotel chain facing a major food poisoning outbreak, seen from a complexity theory perspective. Data were collected through 17 in‐depth interviews of persons involved in the crisis response and through analysis of secondary data.

Findings

The analysis identified weaknesses in the chain's crisis response and complexity theory provided a good theoretical foundation of the proposals to overcome them.

Practical implications

Organizations should redefine the role of crisis management plans and crisis management teams. An effective crisis response should be viewed as a living (co‐evolving) system within the organization. By adopting complexity principles the organization can make this system far more effective.

Originality/value

The paper is among the very few that deal with crisis management from a complexity perspective.

Details

Management Decision, vol. 44 no. 7
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0025-1747

Keywords

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Article

Taylor Jing Wen, Jo-Yun Li and Baobao Song

This study situates in the context of Chipotle's food safety issue and seeks to understand how their primary customers perceive their crisis response messages after…

Abstract

Purpose

This study situates in the context of Chipotle's food safety issue and seeks to understand how their primary customers perceive their crisis response messages after learning of the outbreaks. The current study incorporates the framework of situational crisis communication theory (SCCT; Coombs, 2007) and public segmentation model (Rawlins, 2006) to understand the effectiveness of crisis response messages. It aims to examine the role of public segmentation in situational crisis communication and investigate the effects of three crisis response strategies according to SCCT on different public segments.

Design/methodology/approach

The SCCT provides guidelines for understanding the effectiveness of different crisis response strategies. The current study showcases the importance of public segmentation in the SCCT model through the lens of stakeholder theory. A 3 (crisis response strategy: deny, diminish, rebuild) × 4 (public segment: advocate, dormant, adversarial, apathetic) factorial experiment was conducted.

Findings

The findings suggest that advocate public expressed more positive evaluation about the company when exposed to rebuild and deny strategies. Both dormant and adversarial stakeholders reported positive responses on rebuild and diminish strategies. However, no difference was found among apathetic public.

Originality/value

The researchers attempt to make a modest contribution in this direction by reporting results from an empirical experiment that examined the effects of crisis response strategies on different public segments. The findings suggest an effective message tailoring approach to target different public segments. Thus, the results of this study are expected to benefit relevant corporations and public relations practitioners.

Details

Corporate Communications: An International Journal, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1356-3289

Keywords

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Article

Audra Diers-Lawson, Amelia Symons and Cheng Zeng

Data security breaches are an increasingly common and costly problem for organizations, yet there are critical gaps in our understanding of the role of stakeholder…

Abstract

Purpose

Data security breaches are an increasingly common and costly problem for organizations, yet there are critical gaps in our understanding of the role of stakeholder relationship management and crisis communication in relation to data breaches. In fact, though there have been some studies focusing on data breaches, little is known about what might constitute a “typical” response to data breaches whether those responses are effective at maintaining the stakeholders' relationship with the organization, their commitment to use the organization after the crisis, or the reputational threat of the crisis. Further, even less is known about the factors most influencing response and outcome evaluation during data breaches.

Design/methodology/approach

We identify a “typical” response strategy to data breaches and then evaluate the role of this response in comparison to situation, stakeholder demographics and relationships between stakeholders, the issue and the organization using an experimental design. This experiment focuses on a 2 (type of organization) × 2 (prior knowledge of breach risk) with a control group design.

Findings

Findings suggest that rather than employing reactive crisis response messaging the role of public relations should focus on proactive relationship building between organizations and key stakeholders.

Originality/value

For the last several decades much of the field of crisis communication has assumed that in the context of a crisis the response strategy itself would materially help the organization. These data suggest that the field crisis communication may have been making the wrong assumption. In fact, these data suggest that reactive crisis response has little-to-no effect once we consider the relationships between organizations, the issue and stakeholders. The findings show that an ongoing program of crisis capacity building is to an organization's strategic advantage when data security breaches occur.

Details

Corporate Communications: An International Journal, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1356-3289

Keywords

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Article

Derek R Slagle, J.J. McIntyre, April Chatham-Carpenter and Heather Ann Reed

The purpose of this study is to examine the types of information that were shared by the institution, and faculty/staff responses to the information shared, with the goal…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to examine the types of information that were shared by the institution, and faculty/staff responses to the information shared, with the goal of providing recommendations for other institutions facing concurrent crises.

Design/methodology/approach

This mixed-methods case study examines a public university's experiences managing the Covid-19 pandemic crisis while simultaneously navigating financial challenges that had been building over time. Using data from university-wide mediated communications and a survey of on-campus stakeholders during the Covid-19 pandemic and university retrenchment process, this paper explores institutional communication, stakeholder response to organizational communication and faculty/staff reactions to information in the midst of concurrent crises.

Findings

The study found that the university used instructing and advising information within its messages from its top administrator but fell short of incorporating empathy for its stakeholders in its initial responses.

Research limitations/implications

Using the situational crisis communication theory (Coombs, 2019), which recommends the use of an ethical base response to crises, implications are provided for other organizations facing concurrent crises during the Covid-19 pandemic, to also incorporate empathy in their messages to stakeholders whose livelihoods are being affected, across multiple platforms.

Originality/value

Weathering the Covid-19 pandemic and long-term financial pitfalls have proven to be a disruptive phenomenon for higher education institutions. This research expands understanding of institutional communication and stakeholder reactions in a higher education institution facing both the Covid-19 crisis and a retrenchment.

Peer review

The peer-review history for this article is available at: https://publons.com/publon/10.1108/OIR-09-2020-0415.

Details

Online Information Review, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1468-4527

Keywords

Content available
Article

Jack Carson, Jacob Waddingham and Jeremy Mackey

The purpose of this research is to describe organization members' attributions for managerial responses to obviously externally caused crises. The authors draw from…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this research is to describe organization members' attributions for managerial responses to obviously externally caused crises. The authors draw from attribution theory research and the actor-observer bias to argue that organization members' proximity to managerial crisis response is a key determinant of organization members' affective and behavioral outcomes following a crisis.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors develop a conceptual dual-process model of attributions that explains why organization members' judgments of managerial responsibility and associated outcomes differ depending on organization members' proximity to crisis response action.

Findings

The authors focus on organization members' attributions for the failure of managerial crisis responses to obviously externally caused crisis events. The authors present propositions regarding the impact of organization members' potential biases on their attributions for managerial crisis response. Then, the authors delineate how action proximity can assuage negative outcomes of managerial crisis response failure by encouraging an attitude of understanding and awareness of situational challenges.

Originality/value

The authors diverge from prior applications of attribution theory to crisis management by focusing on organization members' attributions of managerial crisis response failure, rather than attributions for the initial cause of the crisis itself. The authors also extend prior work that primarily focuses on crisis response strategies by instead elaborating on how organization members' attributions operate in the wake of their management's failure to effectively respond to an obviously externally caused crisis.

Details

Management Decision, vol. 58 no. 10
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0025-1747

Keywords

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Article

W. Timothy Coombs, Sherry Jean Holladay and An-Sofie Claeys

The purpose of this paper is to address the under-researched issue of how formal determinations of organizational responsibility for a crisis affect the effectiveness of…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to address the under-researched issue of how formal determinations of organizational responsibility for a crisis affect the effectiveness of the denial strategy in protecting organizational reputation. Because studies that omit later determinations of responsibility produce misleading representations of the value of denial, a pilot study and primary study investigated how later determinations of organizational culpability in a management misconduct crisis interact with crisis response strategies to affect reputation and anger.

Design/methodology/approach

Two studies used experimental designs to assess how denial interacted with determinations of crisis responsibility to influence reputation and anger.

Findings

The pilot study demonstrated reputational damage and stakeholder anger increased when an organization initially denied responsibility and then was found to be responsible for the crisis. The second study replicated the pilot study findings and also demonstrated that later determinations of guilt decreased reputation scores. When found guilty, the organization’s reputation was significantly more favorable when the positive action strategy was used. Comparison of three response strategies (no response, denial, and positive action) revealed the denial and no response conditions were significantly less effective than the positive response strategy when the organization was found guilty.

Research limitations/implications

Paper demonstrates the need for research on the denial strategy to consider later determinations of crisis responsibility (guilt) when assessing denial’s impact on organizational reputation.

Practical implications

When selecting response strategies in situations where crisis responsibility is unclear, practitioners should consider how later determinations of responsibility could affect reputation.

Originality/value

This paper questions past research on the value of the denial strategy, integrates findings from the trust violations research, and demonstrates the importance of considering formal judgments of organizational responsibility when selecting crisis response strategies.

Details

Journal of Communication Management, vol. 20 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1363-254X

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Article

Sasha Karl Grebe

The purpose of this paper is to highlight the circumstances in which a crisis response strategy can compound a crisis, especially a corporate scandal, as evidenced by the…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to highlight the circumstances in which a crisis response strategy can compound a crisis, especially a corporate scandal, as evidenced by the case of AWB Limited, where the organisational damage of the “cover‐up” escalated the scandal further and caused additional damage to the company.

Design/methodology/approach

The AWB case study provides a unique insight into the application of theories and research on crisis and reputation management and the specific challenges and risks of corporate scandals.

Findings

As a specific form of crisis, corporate scandals can easily descend into a secondary or “double crisis” if incorrectly managed, or even mismanaged.

Research limitations/implications

The paper shows that the information provided to the Australian Government's Royal Commission and other documents relating to the management of the scandal by the company further embarrassed AWB and exposed the inappropriateness of the original defensive apologia crisis response strategy pursued by the company.

Practical implications

The AWB case study provides an opportunity for alignment with the crisis response theories of Coombs and De Maria, based on the evaluation of the initial failed response strategy and the more appropriate response eventually undertaken by the company.

Originality/value

The paper offers the additional insights of the author (as a former member of the management team at the company) into the documents tendered to the Royal Commission, which have not been evaluated and studied for their contribution to crisis communication and crisis management.

Details

Corporate Communications: An International Journal, vol. 18 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1356-3289

Keywords

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Article

Nengzhi (Chris) Yao, Jiuchang Wei, Weiwei Zhu and Alexander Bondar

The conclusions on the importance of corporate response timing to a crisis have remained inconsistent. Some studies suggest that active response may reduce negative…

Abstract

Purpose

The conclusions on the importance of corporate response timing to a crisis have remained inconsistent. Some studies suggest that active response may reduce negative impacts, whereas managers argue that issuing official response frustrates stakeholders and thus decreases the firm value. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the role of external media in the response timing strategy and the consequent stock market reaction.

Design/methodology/approach

Based on 130 corporate crises that befell publicly listed firms in China from 2007 to 2014, this paper uses the Baidu News Search Engine and Chinese Lexical Analysis System to construct the variables of the media characteristics. A structural equation model is established to test the hypotheses.

Findings

The results of this paper suggest that media coverage drives response timing after a crisis. Although an official response is a burden for firms, the timing strategy has multidimensional benefits including effectively alleviating negative effects (defined as buffering effects) and repairing the market (defined as restoring effects). Moreover, the buffering effects of response timing are stronger when completeness of response is low.

Originality/value

This study mainly contributes to crisis communication literature by introducing the role of media in prompting managers to make timing decisions. The findings of this study provide empirical support for the importance of timing response strategy.

Details

Baltic Journal of Management, vol. 14 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1746-5265

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Article

Seon‐Kyoung An, Karla K. Gower and Seung Ho Cho

This paper aims to identify how the news media cover organizational crisis responsibility and crisis response strategies and, if at all, how they differ by crisis types.

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to identify how the news media cover organizational crisis responsibility and crisis response strategies and, if at all, how they differ by crisis types.

Design/methodology/approach

The approach takes the form of a content analysis of level of responsibility (individual versus organizational level) and organizational response strategies in news coverage of major crisis events during 2006 in three newspapers.

Findings

Significant differences were found between preventable crises and accidental crises: most preventable crises news coverage focused more on the individual level of responsibility, while accidental crises news used the organizational level of responsibility. The significant differences of organizational response strategies indicated that preventable crises news coverage frequently reported denial strategies, while accidental crisis news covered deal with strategies more.

Research limitations/implications

The study is limited to the samples of the three newspapers and the period 2006.

Practical implications

This study suggests that crisis managers should always check the crisis news coverage, and media bias and orientation, and try to have good relations with the media to deliver the right message to the public during a crisis.

Originality/value

Despite the importance of the media's role in the public's perception of crisis responsibility, there is a lack of systematic analysis of level of crisis responsibility.

Details

Journal of Communication Management, vol. 15 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1363-254X

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Article

W. Timothy Coombs and Elina R. Tachkova

The purpose of this paper, a set of two studies, is to elaborate on the concept of scansis and its effects upon crisis communication theory and practice. A scansis…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper, a set of two studies, is to elaborate on the concept of scansis and its effects upon crisis communication theory and practice. A scansis represents the intersection of a scandal and crisis, essentially when a crisis becomes a scandal. A new term was created due to the varied ways in which the term scandal is used and misused. The effects of scansis on crisis communication are examined through two studies. A scansis is unique because it creates moral outrage and is a function of a perception of injustice coupled with greed.

Design/methodology/approach

Experimental design is used in both studies to test for the effects of specific crisis response strategies used during a scansis. The crisis response strategies were manipulated to determine whether or not corrective action with moral recognition is more effective at helping organizations during a crisis than those crisis response strategies that do not contain a moral component.

Findings

The two studies found no short-term effect for crisis responses during scansis. This included no difference between corrective action with moral recognition and the other three response conditions for the short-term factors of organizational reputation, negative word-of-mouth intentions, purchase intentions and anger. However, Study 2 found that corrective action with moral recognition was perceived as the most empathetic response and created the lowest levels of moral outrage. The authors postulate that corrective action with moral recognition has a long-term effect after a scansis by creating a positive response that moves organizations away from being stigmatized.

Research limitations/implications

The results raise questions about the current configuration of the intentional crisis cluster articulated in situational crisis communication theory (SCCT). When just consider assessments crisis responsibility, a scansis would be part of the preventable crisis cluster. However, the evaluation of justice and greed suggest a scansis may be a unique crisis type that does not fit within the intentional crisis cluster and the prescribed short-term effects of crisis response strategies recommend by SCCT. The scansis establishes a boundary condition for the limits of crisis response strategies on short-term effects such as reputation and purchase intention. These findings require us to rethink elements of current crisis communication theory.

Practical implications

The lack of short-term benefits should not be an argument for abandoning accommodative crisis response strategies. Practitioners need to realize the limits of crisis response strategies for creating short-term benefits and think about the potential long-term benefits offered by crisis response strategies.

Originality/value

Scansis is a new concept for crisis communication and provides a link between the crisis communication and organizational stigma literatures. The two studies are the first attempts to empirically examine scansis and opens new avenues of thinking and research for crisis communication and organizational stigma researchers.

Details

Journal of Communication Management, vol. 23 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1363-254X

Keywords

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