International Journal of Business and Social Science

ISSN 2219-1933 (Print), 2219-6021 (Online) DOI: 10.30845/ijbss

Using the Theory of Emotional Stakeholders to Experimentally Test the Influence of Proxy Communicators about Organizational Crises in Digital News Reports
A.M. Mason, Ph.D; Elizabeth A. Spencer, M.A; Kelley Macek, M.A; Alison Smith, M.A; Stephanie Potter, M.A.

The emergence of new and social media has transformed the way that stakeholders and organizations interact between and amongst each other. Online news consumers are now able to directly respond to crisis news reports by offering their own interpretation, thus expanding the diversity of viewpoints audiences are exposed to (Carpenter, 2010; Springer, 2014). Using the Theory of Emotional Stakeholders framework our study aims (1) to understand how positive and negative user-generated comments in response to online news reports of crisis events impacts audience perceptions of organizational blame; (2) to examine the persuasive effects of user comments when expert or official organizational responses are provided; and, (3) to measure the affective response to online news reports including user comments. Using experimental procedures our findings show that user comments from organizations, faith-holders, and hate-holders contribute to audience evaluations of crisis responsibility, both causal and treatment. Results found that user comments from faith-holders reduced causal responsibility in the intentional cluster compared to the control condition; however, when organizations were facing preventable crises, user comments from faith-holders amplified perceived treatment responsibility. A detailed description of the findings, discussion, limitations and future directions are provided.

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