University of Twente Student Theses


Crisis with a happy end: The effect of storytelling elements in organizational crisis communication

Fidrich, Lukas (2020) Crisis with a happy end: The effect of storytelling elements in organizational crisis communication.

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Abstract:Background: Facebook, Volkswagen, Facebook: Many companies who experienced an organizational crisis in the past still suffer from negative brand associations and cognitions inherited by the public. As conventional crisis communication methods do not always seem to be effectively counteracting these disadvantageous reactions by customers, this study investigates if storytelling may have a more powerful impact on the cognitions of the public. Objectives: This study aims to investigate the effects storytelling elements in an organizational crisis response have on the public. A convincing narrative has an identifiable protagonist, to which the audience can relate to, and depicts events that are plausible to happen in the real world. In the context of a crisis, organizational communication efforts aim to influence customers’ attitude and emotions towards the brand, as well as the willingness to buy the company’s products. Consequentially, the effects of endorser archetype, endorser identification, and plausibility on narrative transportation, brand attitude, emotional response, and purchase intention are studied. Further, this study aims to substantiate the term “storytelling” by applying a narrative structure to an organizational statement. Methods: An experimental 2 (high endorser identification/low endorser identification) x 2 (warrior endorser archetype/ruler endorser archetype) between-groups design was applied. Data was gathered by the distribution of a quantitative online questionnaire. With the help of convenience- and snowball sampling procedure, 127 responses from an international and mainly academic group of respondents were collected. Results: Endorser archetype had significant main effects on narrative transportation and endorser identification. Endorser identification has been found to affect brand attitude and different dimensions of emotional response, namely anger/sadness and sympathy. Conclusion: This study is one of the first to investigate the effects narrative elements can have on external stakeholders when applied in an organizational crisis response message. It serves as a basis for further investigations and studies in this field. Recommendations: The findings of this study add the method of storytelling to the communicational toolbox of companies when creating an organizational response to a crisis. Nevertheless, organizations should be careful to not overestimate the effects storytelling elements can have in the context of organizational crisis. Future studies can use the results of this study to further investigate the effects of endorser archetype and narrative elements in organizational messages. Further, future studies may be able to correct some shortcomings of this study when designing the stimuli material and composing the sample.
Item Type:Essay (Bachelor)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Programme:Communication Studies BSc (56615)
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