Internal Crisis Communication and Management



The aim of the chapter is to discuss internal crisis communication and why it is important to pay more attention to co-workers and internal aspects of crisis management. Both crisis management research and practice have a lot to win by taking the internal perspective seriously. The chapter starts with a discussion about the need of more meta-theoretical reflections in order to develop the field of crisis management. Two contrasting traditions are presented and discussed – the modern and the postmodern tradition. Within the modern tradition rationality and control is emphasized. Crisis situations are here managed as fire emergency responses and thus managed in a reactive way. The postmodern tradition is based in social constructionism, meaning that people’s perception and sensemaking of a situation is put in the center. According to this tradition there exists no objective reality, only enacted realities. Postmodern scholars are skeptical to standard solutions in crisis management, and organizational crisis are seen as normal phases in a natural on-going evolution. From a postmodern perspective co-workers are the most important resource in crisis management. They have many sensitive tentacles and therefore excellent qualifications to early detect weak signals of changes that might lead to a crisis. Further, during a crisis it is important to also focus the co-workers and not solely communicate with external groups. Co-workers need early to receive information about the crisis, but first and foremost occasions to discuss and get help to make sense of the situation. After a crisis internal communication is fundamental for the reflection and development of new understandings, routines, knowledge and actions. Internal crisis communication will become even more important in the future with a fast, complex and ever-changing reality where co-workership and internal focus is key to success. Internal audiences are as, if not more, important than external audiences during a crisis, and yet those who aren’t actually on the crisis response team often receive the least consideration when the stuff hits the fan (Bernstein 1999, p. 20).


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© Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Strategic Communication, Campus HelsingborgLund UniversityHelsingborgSweden

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