Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

A cross -cultural study of corporate response and their impact in times of crisis
by Cheng, Shu-hui Sophy, Ph.D., Wayne State University, 2009, 238; 3344308
Abstract (Summary)

Crisis communication studies in non-Western culture are relatively rare and few examples of cross-cultural issues have been examined in the literature. Filling the gap left in current literature, the purpose of this study was to conduct a cross-cultural comparison of U.S., Taiwan and Australia to examine whether these different cultural contexts are related to different crisis communication approaches. Specifically, the three case studies - Martha Stewart, BenQ and HIH - were designed to explore the intersection of crisis communication, intercultural communication and crisis leadership.

From the data analysis, three general themes emerged across all three of these cases: (1) abuse of asymmetrical information, (2) ignoring the warning signs, and (3) failure in crisis response. It was evident in these three cases that no singular strategy was implemented, but instead several actions and communication initiatives were taken. However, the results of the study indicated that denial and shifting the blame to others were the prototypical strategies in all three cases, especially as the corporate leaders tried to distance themselves from the wrongdoings. They were more concerned about avoiding legal liabilities rather than public opinion. In these three cases, stakeholders also found little comfort or reassurances in their codes of ethics.

Furthermore, crisis response is unique within each culture and there are both similarities and differences across cultures. The differences can be explained theoretically using dimensions of cultural variability. The results suggested that individualism-collectivism, uncertainty avoidance, and low-high context communication showed significant differences in these three cases when handling their corporate crises. This study confirmed the view that cultural sensitivity is a key to successfully manage crisis communication. Therefore, corporate communication practitioners must recognize that there is “no one size fits all” approach to manage crisis communication. In short, culture does matter and plays a significant role in response to a crisis situation. While the major guideline of crisis response strategies is widely considered to be universal across cultures, the way in which it operates is still viewed as culturally specific. The implications of this study point to a further need for developing a Situated Cultural Crisis Communication model.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Seeger, Matthew
Commitee: Griffin, Donyale, Novak, Julie, Yaprak, Attila
School: Wayne State University
Department: Communication
School Location: United States -- Michigan
Source: DAI-A 70/01, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Management, Communication, Mass communications
Keywords: Corporate communication, Crisis, Crisis communication, Crisis leadership, Cross-cultural study, Intercultural communication, Leadership, Public relations
Publication Number: 3344308
ISBN: 978-1-109-00435-9
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