Reliability in chaos: crisis communication in state emergency management agencies Public Deposited

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Last Modified
  • March 21, 2019
Creator
  • Horsley, J. Suzanne
    • Affiliation: Hussman School of Journalism and Media
Abstract
  • Reliable public communication before, during, and after a crisis can save lives and protect property, yet scholarly research has neglected crisis communication in the public sector, particularly from an organizational perspective. To begin to fill this void, this dissertation employed the qualitative methods of participant observation and in-depth interviews to analyze the organizational practices of state emergency management agencies' (SEMA) public affairs offices. An understanding of the roles that public affairs officers have in supporting SEMA's mission of disaster mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery emerged from the data analysis. The public affairs office had two distinct personalities while operating under routine conditions and under crisis conditions. As a result, this research presents a new model to explain how SEMA public affairs offices shift into disaster mode. Crisis Adaptive Public Information (CAPI) accounts for two distinct operational philosophies and explains the transitional nature of this type of organization as it reacts to a crisis stimulus. CAPI incorporates chaos theory as a means of interpreting a crisis event and the concept of high reliability organizations as a means of interpreting the public affairs office's organizational behavior. This model considers the specific organizational environment of SEMAs and provides a new theoretical foundation for further exploration of this vital area of public communication.
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  • In Copyright
Advisor
  • Boynton, Lois A.
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
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  • Open access
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