Communication and Organizational Crisis

Communication and Organizational Crisis

Communication and Organizational Crisis

Communication and Organizational Crisis

Synopsis

Taking a broad view of organizational crisis, the authors synthesize a rich and diverse body of theory, research, and practice and apply it to every kind of crisis imaginable, from oil spills to nuclear disasters, airplane crashes, shuttle explosions, and corporate implosions such as Enron.

Excerpt

Increasingly, crises are common parts of the social, psychological, political, economic, and organizational landscape of modern life. They affect more people than ever before, are more widely reported in the media, and have a wider impact on increasingly interconnected, dynamic, and complex social-technical systems. Crises are sources of profound human loss, tragedy, and agony and are also the precipitating factors in radical, rapid, and often positive social change. They are stories of shortsightedness, hubris, greed, indifference, ignorance, and stupidity. Yet they are also stories of heroes, selflessness, hope, benevolence, compassion, virtue, and renewal. Understanding the complex dynamics of crises is imperative for both researchers and practitioners as they seek to reduce the frequency of crises and the level of harm they cause.

Our goal for this book is to provide a comprehensive discussion of crisis as an organizationally based phenomena with profound effects on individuals, institutions, communities, and society as a whole. We focus particularly on the communicative dimensions of crisis: how risk is discussed, how meaning is constructed, how explanations are offered and sorted out, and how blame is apportioned. We also focus on how crisis functions as a force for change. As described in chapter 2, our examination of crisis is grounded in contemporary theoretical orientations, including enactment, chaos theory, and organizational learning theory. Chapter 3 examines typologies of crisis.

In Part 2 we examine the three developmental stages of a crisis—precrisis, crisis, and postcrisis—to describe the features of these stages. Crisis- and risk-management functions and activities are described in Part

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