Consumers' responses to crisis: The effects of accounts in organisational crisis communication.

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Accounts are often utilised to explain the untoward behaviour of an individual. However, accounts are also used by companies to explain an organisational crisis. It is essential for a company to use an adequate crisis response as it may reduce the damage a crisis can do to the corporate reputation and the negative effect a crisis can have on stakeholders’ behavioural intentions, such as their purchase intention. The accounts “excuses” and “justifications” are frequently used by both individuals and organisations to explain an untoward situation. However, it is important to take into account that an organisation could choose to not react to a crisis as it buys time to collect proper information or avoid listening to the inquiries of certain stakeholders. Therefore, the main purpose of this study was to examine the effects of the use of the excuse strategy, the justification strategy, and the no account strategy in crisis communication on perceived organisational reputation and purchase intention. In an online experiment, consumers reacted to three organisational crises. The participants read three news articles and three companies’ reactions to the corresponding crisis, which either consisted of an excuse, a justification or no account. The results showed that type of account does not have an effect on perceived organisational reputation and purchase intention. However, the findings should be interpreted carefully since the manipulation check showed that the participants did not perceive significant differences between the conditions. This study underlines the importance of future research on general and situational factors that could influence consumers’ perceptions in crisis communication.
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