Advanced

Struggling with internal crisis communication: A balancing act between paradoxical tensions

Heide, Mats LU and Simonsson, Charlotte LU (2015) In Public Reltions Inquiry 4(2). p.223-255
Abstract
The aim of this article is to elucidate the complexity of internal crisis communication by identifying and discussing different paradoxical tensions embedded within a large, complex, multi-professional organization. This article is based on a qualitative case study of a university hospital. Internal dimensions of crisis management have long been neglected within the field of crisis communication research. In the first part of the article, two theoretical approaches are presented – the functionalist and social constructionist which are based on different ontological and epistemological assumptions. We take a social constructionist perspective on crisis communication, which focuses on aspects such as complexity, sensemaking, and symmetrical... (More)
The aim of this article is to elucidate the complexity of internal crisis communication by identifying and discussing different paradoxical tensions embedded within a large, complex, multi-professional organization. This article is based on a qualitative case study of a university hospital. Internal dimensions of crisis management have long been neglected within the field of crisis communication research. In the first part of the article, two theoretical approaches are presented – the functionalist and social constructionist which are based on different ontological and epistemological assumptions. We take a social constructionist perspective on crisis communication, which focuses on aspects such as complexity, sensemaking, and symmetrical relations. In the first part, we also give a brief overview of the small, but growing research into internal crisis communication. In the second part of the article, five different paradoxical tensions are identified and discussed: (1) episodic–emergent, (2) centralized–decentralized, (3) professional–organizational, (4) planning–improvisation, and (5) external–internal. While the complexity of internal crisis communication demands a both-and perspective, we have found a tendency to a simplistic either-or thinking. In the concluding discussions, several explanations of the one-sided polarization within the tensions are offered. Furthermore, we discuss various ways of responding to paradoxical tensions. Metacommunication is presented as important in order to increase organization members’ understanding and thereby facilitate a more reflexive and broader approach to crisis management. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
social constructionism, paradoxical tensions, internal crisis communication, crisis management, Complex organizations
in
Public Reltions Inquiry
volume
4
issue
2
pages
223 - 255
publisher
SAGE Publications Inc.
external identifiers
  • scopus:85013734474
ISSN
2046-147X
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
ac1452a0-1fb0-4c98-882f-7dee0e80c9f1 (old id 4865029)
date added to LUP
2015-08-28 16:55:57
date last changed
2017-10-01 03:08:26
@article{ac1452a0-1fb0-4c98-882f-7dee0e80c9f1,
  abstract     = {The aim of this article is to elucidate the complexity of internal crisis communication by identifying and discussing different paradoxical tensions embedded within a large, complex, multi-professional organization. This article is based on a qualitative case study of a university hospital. Internal dimensions of crisis management have long been neglected within the field of crisis communication research. In the first part of the article, two theoretical approaches are presented – the functionalist and social constructionist which are based on different ontological and epistemological assumptions. We take a social constructionist perspective on crisis communication, which focuses on aspects such as complexity, sensemaking, and symmetrical relations. In the first part, we also give a brief overview of the small, but growing research into internal crisis communication. In the second part of the article, five different paradoxical tensions are identified and discussed: (1) episodic–emergent, (2) centralized–decentralized, (3) professional–organizational, (4) planning–improvisation, and (5) external–internal. While the complexity of internal crisis communication demands a both-and perspective, we have found a tendency to a simplistic either-or thinking. In the concluding discussions, several explanations of the one-sided polarization within the tensions are offered. Furthermore, we discuss various ways of responding to paradoxical tensions. Metacommunication is presented as important in order to increase organization members’ understanding and thereby facilitate a more reflexive and broader approach to crisis management.},
  author       = {Heide, Mats and Simonsson, Charlotte},
  issn         = {2046-147X},
  keyword      = {social constructionism,paradoxical tensions,internal crisis communication,crisis management,Complex organizations},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {2},
  pages        = {223--255},
  publisher    = {SAGE Publications Inc.},
  series       = {Public Reltions Inquiry},
  title        = {Struggling with internal crisis communication: A balancing act between paradoxical tensions},
  volume       = {4},
  year         = {2015},
}