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Not only speed matters – Crisis response in the hypothetical case of a transport accident involving genetically modified crops

Stephan G.H. Meyerding, Elisabeth Spiwoks, Meike Rombach and Mira Lehberger

Food Policy, 2019, vol. 85, issue C, 55-63

Abstract: Crisis communication has attained increased importance for communicators, especially in the modern agricultural sector, with each crisis creating a demand for communication that is responsive and problem-specific. This demand is related to the desire for social acceptance, which also constitutes an essential part of an organization’s activity. Our purpose in this study is to identify appropriate response strategies for the hypothetical case of a transport accident involving genetically modified organisms (GMOs). To answer the research question, we conducted 14 semi-structured interviews with experts in communication, crisis communication, and internet communication, or with individuals who had contact with crisis management when an incident with GMOs occurred. We had the interviews audio recorded, transcribed verbatim, and analyzed. We based the analysis on a qualitative content analysis, which we structured in the manner of Kuckartz's (2016) study. Regarding the GMO scenario presented, the findings show that crisis management constitutes an essential precondition for successful crisis communication. Due to the increasing use of online media, especially social media, dissemination and exchange of information happens very fast. In line with this, the interviews indicate that one must put the primary emphasis on crisis preparedness, especially on developing a crisis manual that provides a structure for crisis response, thus enabling a quick response. We also highlight the significance of using online media because of its ability to rapidly disseminate information. Furthermore, we found that responding with emotional messages was important, as it might help stakeholders deal with their uncertainty in a way that would not negatively affect the organization’s reputation.

Keywords: Crisis management; Crisis response strategies; Hypothetical scenario; Genetically modified organisms (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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DOI: 10.1016/j.foodpol.2019.04.006

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