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Case Study of Organizational Crisis Communication: Oxfam Responds to Sexual Harassment and Abuse Scandal

Abstract

The #MeToo movement has put a spotlight on sexual abuse in a wide range of industries and organizations, including the aid sector. In February 2018, Oxfam GB faced a severe organizational crisis after news reports alleged a cover-up of sexual abuse and harassment perpetrated by its staff in Haiti from 2010–2011. This case study applies crisis communication theory to analyze Oxfam’s response to the scandal. The analysis shows that Oxfam’s initial response focused on explaining and justifying its past decisions fell short to address the public issues at hand. As the organization quickly shifted strategies toward full apology and corrective action, inconsistencies and misstatements continued to undermine its messages. The case study points to unique crisis communication challenges for global NGOs in the #MeToo era and the importance of crisis preparedness and training for NGOs.

Keywords

  • Crisis communication
  • #MeToo movement
  • Oxfam
  • Scandal
  • Sexual abuse and harassment
  • Strategic communication

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Correspondence to Claudia Janssen Danyi .

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© 2019 Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd.

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Danyi, C.J. (2019). Case Study of Organizational Crisis Communication: Oxfam Responds to Sexual Harassment and Abuse Scandal. In: Servaes, J. (eds) Handbook of Communication for Development and Social Change. Springer, Singapore. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-10-7035-8_41-1

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-10-7035-8_41-1

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  • Publisher Name: Springer, Singapore

  • Print ISBN: 978-981-10-7035-8

  • Online ISBN: 978-981-10-7035-8

  • eBook Packages: Springer Reference Literature, Cultural & Media StudiesReference Module Humanities and Social Sciences