Who says what during crises? A study about the interplay between gender similarity with the spokesperson and the crisis response strategy

Publication Date: Thursday 15 June 2017
Author(s): Hannelore Crijns; An-Sofie Claeys; Veroline Cauberghe & Liselot Hudders
Appeared in: Journal of Business Research


This study examined the relative importance of verbal and visual cues in organizational crisis communication, focusing on the importance of gender similarity between an organizational spokesperson and stakeholders and the moderating role of the crisis response strategy used. The findings indicate that gender similarity is beneficial for organizational reputation because it enhances stakeholders’ empathy toward the spokesperson. However, this effect is only found when the spokesperson uses an appropriate crisis response strategy based on the guidelines of situational crisis communication theory. More specifically, when a spokesperson offers a rebuild strategy in the context of a preventable crisis, gender similarity results in more empathy toward the spokesperson and, subsequently, in improved organizational reputation. However, the effect of gender similarity on organizational reputation through empathy toward the spokesperson was not found when a deny strategy was used.

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