Date of Award

4-22-2014

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Communications Media

First Advisor

B. Gail Wilson, Ed.D.

Second Advisor

Nurhaya Muchtar, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Zachary Stiegler, Ph.D.

Abstract

The theoretical framework of discourse of renewal places a communicative emphasis on moving an organization forward following crisis by stressing provisional, prospective, optimistic and leader-based communication to stakeholders as a means for encouraging organizational sense making, learning and viewing the crisis as an opportunity for growth. However, discourse of renewal theorists Ulmer, Seeger and Sellnow contend that the use of renewal discourse following crisis is dependent on four key contextual characteristics including the type of crisis, prior stakeholder relationships, corrective action and change, and the type of organization. This study employs a qualitative collective case study approach to focus on two of those characteristics, namely crisis type and organizational type, and challenges the original theorists' assertion that renewal discourse is only applicable in crisis situations that physically destroy the company and within organizations that are privately held. Overall, the study found evidence suggesting that: transparency should be added as a critical message characteristic of discourse of renewal theory, the use of provisional messaging appears to be contextually bound, organizational leadership is a critical factor in the organization's ability to overcome crisis, and a broader scope exists for discourse of renewal than originally conceived.

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