Employee Mistreatment Crises and Company Perceptions

Seoyeon Kim, Lucinda L. Austin


This study aimed to provide empirical support to the removal of challenge crisis from the situational crisis communication theory (SCCT). Authors examined consumer responses to two accidental crisis types identified in traditional SCCT: a challenge crisis (failure in corporate ethics) and a technical-error crisis (failure in business performance). Specifically, how crisis types within the same crisis cluster varied in consumer outcomes when the crisis involved consumer challenges against the firm’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) was explored. Findings from an experiment with crisis cases in multiple industries revealed: compared with technical-error crises, CSR-involved challenge crises yielded higher crisis responsibility, more negative corporate reputation, and higher intentions to take retaliatory actions against the company. Perceived corporate expertise in providing quality products/services was rated moderately low and not significantly different across crisis types.


corporate social responsibility, crisis, employee mistreatment, corporate reputation

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