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    Intercultural crisis communication: cultural background and the formation of perception

    Kleineidam, Claude-Patrick (2019) Intercultural crisis communication: cultural background and the formation of perception. Doctoral thesis, Birkbeck, University of London.

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    Crisis communication is a fairly new research discipline that originated in the Unites States in the late 1980s. Most of the research in the field has been focused on a senderfocused strategy with the organisation in mind and neglected the audience perspective. In particular, little is known about how cultural background influences crisis message perception and how then perception influences organisational reputation. The importance of the crisis communicator, his/her capabilities and his/her unique deliverance of the crisis message to a multicultural audience has not received much attention in spite of such a significant role in informing the public and therefore in shaping the public image of the organisation. This research aimed to study crisis communication from an intercultural perspective and thus expand the field and fill gaps by investigating how cultural background truly influences perception of crisis messages and subsequently organisational reputation. Further, the study looked at how the proven benefits of multimodality in other fields can be used in crisis communication to better understand the perception creation process. The study utilised an exploratory mixed method approach, following on from an earlier pilot study. Participants were shown two short excerpts from the crisis press conferences of Germanwings U9525 and Malaysia Airlines MH370. The research included in-depth surveys with an open-ended section and was taken by 181 participants from 6 home country groups in the summer of 2016. The data was analysed utilising descriptive statistics as well as a thematic content analysis. The study concluded that cultural background is the decisive component when evaluating crisis messages and determining organisational reputation. Evidence were found to show significant impact in regard to the following three integral parts of crisis communication: Language Used for Crisis Communication, Crisis Information Content (Names & Nationalities of Victims), Attribution of Responsibility. The use of multiple modes and the introduction of multimodality into this study has also raised awareness for the inherent cultural features of crisis communicators. This analysis has provided indicators that significantly shape audiences’ perception. Those were: standing vs. sitting, speed of speaking, eye contact with audience, physical appearance, and facial expression. Finally, the study argued for a departure from the current generic approach in crisis communication to a situation-based crisis handling approach which is underpinned by social constructionism and appropriate and responsive to audiences and crisis context.


    Item Type: Thesis
    Additional Information: Originally submitted to the Department of Applied Linguistics and Communication, School of Social Sciences, History and Philosophy.
    Copyright Holders: The copyright of this thesis rests with the author, who asserts his/her right to be known as such according to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. No dealing with the thesis contrary to the copyright or moral rights of the author is permitted.
    Depositing User: Acquisitions And Metadata
    Date Deposited: 14 Jan 2020 16:53
    Last Modified: 01 Nov 2023 14:14


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