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Communicating a crisis: the influence of stealing thunder and the type of crisis situation on customer perceptions towards financial institutions

Hoonhorst, M. (2017) Communicating a crisis: the influence of stealing thunder and the type of crisis situation on customer perceptions towards financial institutions.

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Abstract:The relationship between financial institutions and their customers is strongly dependent on mutual trust between both parties. However, this mutual trust relationship has suffered some serious setbacks during the last decade. The way financial institutions operate and the environment in which they operate have altered tremendously within a short span of time. Financial institutions in western societies have suffered some serious setbacks due to an economical crisis which introduced them to trust-decreasing situations. Furthermore, the continuous introduction of new technologies in the banking business has ensured that financial institutions and their customers constantly need to learn about- and adapt to these new technologies. For these reasons, financial institutions appear to be susceptible for being the subject of crisis situations in which their trustworthiness is at stake. Over the years, “crisis communication” and “trust repair” are topics which have been discussed in various studies. Within these studies, multiple strategies for the maintenance of positive perceptions towards organizations during crisis situations have been defined. The stealing thunder strategy is a type of crisis communication which has been proven to be efficient in creating positive perceptions when disclosing crisis situations. However, studies which elaborate on the effects of the stealing thunder strategy in various types of crisis situations appear to be rare. This experimental research provides insights into the effects of various types of crisis situations and the way they are disclosed. Hereby, measurements regarding the perceived trustworthiness, forgiveness, and customer continuance intentions of customers towards financial institutions have been conducted. Also, the effects of the nature of the various types of crisis situations on the perceived trustworthiness, forgiveness and customer continuance intentions towards financial institutions have been incorporated. A 2 (type of crisis: internal vs. external) x 2 (type of crisis: intentional vs. unintentional) x 2 (type of disclosure: self disclosure vs. third party) between-subjects factorial design was conducted (N = 247). Within this experimental study, 126 males and 121 females participated by performing the online questionnaire and giving their opinions about financial institutions and various trust-related situations . The results of this study show that the trustworthiness of financial institutions during a crisis situation is determined by the character, standards & values of that 7 institution. Hereby, it appeared that the competences and abilities of the financial institution are of less importance in establishing customer trust. This study shows that the extent of intentionality within an crisis situation only has effects on the customer perceptions towards an financial institution when this crisis has occured in the internal environment of the institution. Furthermore, the results show that when financial institutions disclose a crisis themselves, this will positively affect the trustworthiness of those institutions.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:05 communication studies
Programme:Communication Studies MSc (60713)
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