Narratives as Viable Crisis Response Strategies: Attribution of Crisis Responsibility, Organizational Attitudes, Reputation, and Storytelling

David E. Clementson, Michael J. Beatty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This article expands situational crisis communication theory (SCCT) to narrative persuasion. In a randomized experiment featuring a news interview of a scandalized company, an organization’s spokesperson responds to a journalist’s questions through (a) on-topic narratives, (b) off-topic (spinning) narratives, or (c) nonnarrative information. Consistent with SCCT, on-topic narratives and nonnarrative information reduce the public’s blame toward the organization, enhancing attitudes toward the organization, and ultimately bolstering the company’s image. However, the public ascribes more responsibility to the organization for causing the crisis when the spokesperson subverts questions through narrative spinning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)52-67
Number of pages16
JournalCommunication Studies
Volume72
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Narrative
  • attribution
  • image repair
  • scandal
  • situational crisis communication theory
  • spinning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication

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