Managing Reputation Risk and Situational Crisis in Higher Institutions of Learning

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Andem Ita Effiong


Extant literature on crisis and corporate reputation management has presented the Situational Crisis Communication Theory (SCCT) model as a valid and reliable framework for managing crisis and predicting stakeholders’perceptions of organizations’ reputation in times of crisis. In order to verifythe applicability of the model in higher institutions of learning in adeveloping country context, a study was conducted in September, 2011 in twopublic universities in Nigeria. The findings of the study revealed thatalthough the institutions did not fully implement the core tenets of SCCT, thestrategies adopted in each of the two crisis situations were similar to some ofthe recommendations of the SCCT in different ways. While one institutionfocused on a strategy similar to what the SCCT model describes as “rebuildcrisis response strategy” with informing and adjusting tactics, the secondinstitution utilized a victimization or “Victimage” strategy with strongattribution of blames; and frequent reminder of the stakeholders of the extentof losses that the institution would incur from the crisis. The outcome wasthat the institution with high emphasis on rebuilding and informationadjustment strategy recorded very little damage to its reputation capital, duringand after the crises. Conversely, the second institution which believed invictimization and high attribution recorded significant losses in reputation assets,which included withdrawal of key stakeholders and loss of recognition ofprograms by some professional agencies. The implication for crisis managers in thetwo institutions includes the need to always approach situational crises in aholistic manner. Such holistic approach would involve a refocus, critical analysis,planning and implementation of crisis response strategies based on the relevantsituations, events, and the people concerned. The research was designed as acase study with focus group discussions as the data collection method.Altogether, 16 officers including eight top and senior administrative staff whowere actively involved in the negotiation and communication programs during the crises in the two institutions participated in the focus group discussions.Keywords: situational crisis, reputation risk, stakeholders’perceptions, stakeholders’ value, reputation capital, reputation assets

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Author Biography

Andem Ita Effiong, 1. University of Calabar, Nigeria 2. Wilmington University, New Castle Delaware USA

University of Calabar, NigeriaFaculty of Management Sciences, Dept Of Marketing (Senior Lecturer/Management Consultant)Wilmington University, College of Business Administration, New Castle DE (Doctoral Candidate).


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