This study examines when and why employees engage in external communicative behaviors during the periods of a corporate crisis. Combining a cross-situational factor (i.e., pre-crisis relationship quality) and a situational factor (i.e., crisis-specific perceptions), this study segments internal publics to understand employees’ motivations of becoming advocates for or adversaries of their organization. The results of an online survey demonstrated that employees’ pre-crisis relationship to their organization plays a critical role in encouraging them to advocate for their company; meanwhile, their crisis-perception—whether they feel fewer constraints in solving a crisis—is more likely to make them share negative information externally. Segmented groups of employees with high levels of both relationship and activeness are most likely to engage in both positive and negative external communication behaviors. Theoretical and practical implications for public relations and internal crisis communication are suggested.
- Crisis perceptions
- Employee communication behaviors
- Employee-organization relationship
- Public segmentation
- Situational theory of problem solving
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management