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PREDICTING PSYCHOLOGICAL RIPPLE EFFECTS OF CRISIS COMMUNICATION: INVESTIGATING THE JOINT EFFECTS OF MESSAGE AND MESSAGE RECEIVER ATTRIBUTES
Liu, Brooke F
Turner, Monique M
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In the event of an incidence of workplace violence, organizational post-crisis communication and media coverage of the incident typically provide details about the identity of the perpetrator and possible motivations for the act in an effort to facilitate the sense-making process for message receivers and to mitigate the organization's role in the crisis. In an increasingly globalized world, these messages are read by stakeholders of different nationalities with different cultural orientations. This dissertation examined the interacting influence of crisis message attributes such as the group membership (in-group, out-group) of the perpetrator, attributions of blame in the message (personal dispositional, situational) and message receiver attributes such as nationality (American, Indian) and cultural cognitive style (analytical, holistic) on psychological ripple effects in stakeholders and therefore on implications for an organization in crisis. Results indicated that Indian message receivers measured more holistic than American message receivers. Outcomes for an organization that had experienced a crisis depended on crisis type with the more negative implications being associated with the more preventable crisis according to stakeholders. Further, group membership of the perpetrator did not appear to affect organizational blame. However, contrary to predictions, it was the American message receivers who made a clearer distinction between in-group and out-group perpetrators and this evaluation was tied to the type of crisis. As hypothesized, holistic thinkers blamed the organization more when situational attributions were used in the crisis message; analytical thinkers blamed the organization more when personal dispositional attributions were used in the crisis message. Finally, the psychological ripple effects model showed that organizational blame decreased organizational trust, and increased anger in stakeholders. Angry stakeholders expressed a higher intention to engage in negative word-of-mouth and lowered purchase intention. Overall, the results point to a more complex phenomenon of crisis communication comprehension than is currently understood. Implications for theory and practice are discussed as well as directions for future research.