R.E. (1990). From adversity to diversity: Applications of communication
to crisis management. In T. Housel (Ed.), Advances in
telecommunications management, 3: Information technology and crisis
management (pp. 91-112).
NY: JAI Press.
This chapter speculates on how computer-based
communication and information
systems (CMCIS) may be used to not only increase but also manage
diversity in the management of organizational crises. The chapter first
a model of ways information and communication may be constrained when
groups, and organizations respond to crises. Then the chapter describes
characteristics of communication media, and identifies ways different
channels can increase or decrease constraints on communication
Working from these two theoretical foundations, the relevance of CMCIS
the problem of constrained responses in organizational crisis
is considered at three stages of organizational information
(crisis prevention and identification), conversation (crisis response
management), and output (crisis communication and learning). At each
CMCIS are considered both as channels of information and communication
crises, as well as the content of managerial and organizational
in the crisis management process. It is useful to identify some of the
underlying the arguments in this chapter, and to make explicit some of
limitations of this discussion.
First, although information and communication are necessary in
stages of crisis management, they are not necessarily sufficient.
personal and organizational values and norms, luck and faith,
and skill, material and political resources, economic conditions,
leadership, regional and national politics and policies, and a whole
of other factors play important roles.
Second, we focus on ways in which CMCIS may be used to handle,
manage, exchange, retrieve, decide upon, evaluate, and create
information. But such
systems are far more than just technology and software; they are
intrinsically embedded in social contexts (users, groups,
organizations, cultures, economies). This context means that (1) there
are clearly many other (possibly more appropriate
and generally more accessible) sources of information and ways to
(2) CMCIS my be used in damaging as well as helpful ways, and (3) the
of CMCIS must be fitted to those contexts.
Third, while there is considerable empirical research on both
crisis management, and on CMCIS, this discussion is primarily
speculative. It uses
a previously developed framework for analyzing computer-mediated
communication systems (Rice, 1987): (1) to identify how different kinds
of CMCIS applications may facilitate crisis management, (2) based upon
a consideration of constraint inherent in both crisis and CMCIS.
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