Crisis leadership: when should the CEO step up?

Crisis leadership: when should the CEO step up? Purpose – One explicit leadership role the chief executive officer (CEO) can play during crisis is to assume the role of being the organization's spokesperson. What remains unclear is at what point of the crisis should the CEO step up and how does that impact crisis communication? The purpose of this paper is to examine this question. Design/methodology/approach – The meta‐analysis method is used to combine different data in various studies of one topic into one comprehensive study. More than 30 crises are meta‐analyzed. Findings – The CEO needs to step up to revise earlier statements or when the integrity of the organization is questioned. Additionally, the CEO should step up at the beginning of the crisis if the crisis pertains to organizational transgression or when the crisis becomes unbearable to organizational reputation. As counter‐intuitive as it may, CEOs should refrain from stepping up at the height of the crisis. Research limitations/implications – It is an exploratory study. Some cases have lesser information to analyze than others. Practical implications – Instructive for both corporate communications practitioners and CEOs as they have a framework to guide them on when the CEOs should step up, and when the presence of corporate communications would suffice. Originality/value – Little has been studied to clarify the exact nature, role, and impact of the CEO as organization spokesperson in crises. This paper provides the initial template. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Corporate Communications: An International Journal Emerald Publishing

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © 2009 Emerald Group Publishing Limited. All rights reserved.
ISSN
1356-3289
DOI
10.1108/13563280910980032
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Purpose – One explicit leadership role the chief executive officer (CEO) can play during crisis is to assume the role of being the organization's spokesperson. What remains unclear is at what point of the crisis should the CEO step up and how does that impact crisis communication? The purpose of this paper is to examine this question. Design/methodology/approach – The meta‐analysis method is used to combine different data in various studies of one topic into one comprehensive study. More than 30 crises are meta‐analyzed. Findings – The CEO needs to step up to revise earlier statements or when the integrity of the organization is questioned. Additionally, the CEO should step up at the beginning of the crisis if the crisis pertains to organizational transgression or when the crisis becomes unbearable to organizational reputation. As counter‐intuitive as it may, CEOs should refrain from stepping up at the height of the crisis. Research limitations/implications – It is an exploratory study. Some cases have lesser information to analyze than others. Practical implications – Instructive for both corporate communications practitioners and CEOs as they have a framework to guide them on when the CEOs should step up, and when the presence of corporate communications would suffice. Originality/value – Little has been studied to clarify the exact nature, role, and impact of the CEO as organization spokesperson in crises. This paper provides the initial template.

Journal

Corporate Communications: An International JournalEmerald Publishing

Published: Aug 7, 2009

Keywords: Leadership; Chief executives; Corporate communications

References

  • Image repair discourse and crisis communication
    Benoit, W.L.
  • The restructuring and reengineering of AT&T: analysis of a public relations crisis using organizational theory
    Christen, C.T.
  • Newsgroups, activist publics, and corporate apologia: the case of intel and its pentium chip
    Hearit, K.M.
  • Merrill Lynch: corporate apologia and business fraud
    Hearit, K.M.; Brown, J.
  • Chaos and crisis: propositions for a general theory of crisis communication
    Seeger, M.W.

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