Crisis Communication


Researcher(s): An-Sofie Claeys
Promotors: Verolien Cauberghe and Jan Leysen, Koninklijke Militaire School
Duration: September 2009 to September 2012


This PhD investigated how organizations in crisis should communicate in order to minimize or restore reputational damage. A number of experimental studies examined the impact of three dimensions of crisis communication, namely the content, timing and framing.

The content of crisis communication involves the degree of responsibility that an organization takes for a crisis. Organizations can for instance fully reject responsibility by means of denial or take responsibility by apologizing. The timing of crisis communication relates to whether an organization in crisis choses to self-disclose incriminating information or waits for a third party to disclose the events before offering a response. Finally, the framing that was investigated in this PhD refers to rational crisis communication on the one hand and emotional crisis communication on the other hand. Can spokespersons of an organization in crisis express their genuine emotions or should they remain as rational as possible?

The findings illustrate the importance of crisis communication in restoring consumers’ confidence in organizations.