C15. Rice, R.E. (1990). From adversity to diversity: Applications of communication technology 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 communication diversity in the management of organizational crises. The chapter first summarizes a model of ways information and communication may be constrained when individuals, groups, and organizations respond to crises. Then the chapter describes general characteristics of communication media, and identifies ways different communication channels can increase or decrease constraints on communication processes. Working from these two theoretical foundations, the relevance of CMCIS to the problem of constrained responses in organizational crisis management is considered at three stages of organizational information processing-input (crisis prevention and identification), conversation (crisis response and management), and output (crisis communication and learning). At each stage, CMCIS are considered both as channels of information and communication about crises, as well as the content of managerial and organizational activities in the crisis management process. It is useful to identify some of the assumptions underlying the arguments in this chapter, and to make explicit some of the limitations of this discussion.

First, although information and communication are necessary in all three stages of crisis management, they are not necessarily sufficient. Clearly, personal and organizational values and norms, luck and faith, experience and skill, material and political resources, economic conditions, personal leadership, regional and national politics and policies, and a whole host 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 communicate, (2) CMCIS my be used in damaging as well as helpful ways, and (3) the capabilities 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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