Current limits in crisis studies

Although the bibliography in crisis studies is rich, there are several limits that become clear after reading several articles and papers. Being spectacular, the crisis focuses all attention on peak stages (not only in media, but in the academic research) and ignore the other stages (preparation and/or final of crisis). Crisis management and immediate responses and/or strategies are in the center of interest of researchers. The consequences are that the less spectacular aspects of crisis are neglected by analysis and studies. For example, the topic of middle and long term effects of crisis is less investigated (although it requires a longitudinal analysis, and this type of analysis is less preferred). Or, the internal communication strategies in case of crisis are also neglected (even if they are crucial for the successful management of crisis). Further, the area of risk management and prevention of crisis is also less preferred in studies (although is of the same great importance for the effective management of crisis).

Another insight on the current limits in crisis studies refers to the types of crisis that are chosen for analysis. Thus, studies select less cases of chronic or complex crisis (the sudden crisis are more attractive, and easier to be studied) and focus less on the processes that maintain a crisis. Also, some complex cases of crisis are treated independently of their context and analysed after universal principles, while the context is essential in the correct interpretation of crisis.

On another hand, crisis studies —offer few frames in evaluating  objectively the symbolic damages, especially the reputation damages. While there is a long ongoing discussion about the reputation (including the topic of reputation assessment) the processes of reputation building and repair, in connection with crisis, are less investigated. It has been stated that a favorable prior reputation has a “protective power” in case of crisis situations (Coombs and Holladay, 2004), helping managers to find a better reaction to their response strategies in case of crisis. In exchange, the reverse relationship (the maintenance of reputation in time, after a crisis) has not been clarified yet.

Finally, even if scholars recognize the explosive potential of crisis created by the development of social media, they still not reached to a consensus about the methods to assess this risk.  Organizations are vulnerable to actions and statements of a potential unlimited audience (Coombs and Holladay, 2012) because of the greater control of users (either internal or external publics) over relevant information (Reddington & Francis, 2011), but still, neither researchers neither the practitioners are not able to give a firm advice about how  to manage communication crisis in the online space. Is this the end of the organizational rules and of the functional perspective? Or, rather, the organizations need to adopt another perspective about their status and mission, and align to it?  The answer is going to be visible in the next years.

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