Author(s), Title and Publication
Snoeijers, E. M., & Poels, K. (2018). Factors that influence organisational crisis perception from an internal stakeholder’s point of view. Public Relations Review, 4465-74. doi:10.1016/j.pubrev.2017.12.003
Organizational crisis is broadly defined as the perception(s) of an unforeseen event that imperils expectations of stakeholders and impacts negatively an organization’s performance. The authors posit that through the deployment of good communication practices and well-positioned management and staff members, organizations can either avoid entirely or mitigate substantially potential crises while the organization remains in a pre-crisis posture. In effort to better understand how organizations may more nimbly and effectively manage pending crisis the researchers focus on crisis perception through the viewpoints of individuals within a large organization using a scenario-based survey predicated on an unfolding crisis scenario with a corresponding measurement of crisis perception for different individual profiles.
Focusing on a well-documented, but relatively understudied crisis challenge in the public relations discipline, this study addresses one of the largest arenas of public relations crises; public sector crises. Such crises risk direct financial loss, compounded by reputational and additional effects. A sample population of 2,179 members of a national-defense organization provided insight on factors that influence perception of an impending organizational crisis, such as academic communication degree, hierarchical organizational position and previous crisis experience.
Findings suggest that individuals with crisis experience will perceive a crisis earlier than those without, and those with additional crisis training are even more likely to perceive crisis. Dispelling to some degree existing scholarship, the study found that managers had a higher degree of crisis perception, which the researchers attributed to some degree to the military hierarchy present in the specific sample utilized for this study. The research demonstrated that individuals with communication-related study backgrounds would perceive crisis more quickly than others, indicating that academic training and background is an important element of effective crisis communication. Overall, the research suggests that placing individuals with higher perception of crisis allows an organization to more timely develop communication strategies to mitigate or avoid crisis in its early stages.
Implications for Practice
Organizations should (1) ensure partnership with leading communication functions on a strategic level to incorporate communication competence throughout the organizations strategies and functions to ensure full organizational alignment and awareness (2) consider expanding the role that organizational communicators have in crisis communication strategy, and (3) make strategic crisis communication planning and crisis training part of the organization’s overall communication strategy.
Location of Article
This article is available online at: https://www.journals.elsevier.com/public-relations-review (abstract free, purchase full article)