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Cross-National Conflict Shifting: A Case Study of the DuPont Teflon Crisis in China

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PAGE 1

CROSS-NATIONAL CONFLICT SHIFTING: A CASE STUDY OF THE DUPONT TEFLON CRISIS IN CHINA By YIMIN WANG A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLOR IDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS IN MASS COMMUNICATION UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2005

PAGE 2

Copyright 2005 by Yimin Wang

PAGE 3

I would like to dedicate this thes is to my parents and my sister. They light up my life with their ever-lasting love.

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iv ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I especially would like to thank the fo llowing people, who have given me care, support, and inspiration. This thesis could not have been made possible without them. My committee chair, Professor Juan-Carlos Molleda offered me valuable knowledge, expertise, and guidance, and dedi cated countless time a nd efforts throughout this project. And special th anks go to my two other comm ittee members, Professor Lisa Duke Cornell and Professor Jennifer Robinson. I would like to thank Professor Lisa Duke Cornell for her warmest encouragement for me to start this study. I learned from her the true enthusiasm for research and teachi ng. I would like to thank Professor Jennifer Robison for her thoughtful suppor t and inspirational instructi on from start to finish. I thank all my professors in the Coll ege of Journalism and Communications, for their knowledge and guidance dur ing my masters study here in Gainesville. Special thanks go to Professor Peg Hall, Profe ssor Debbie Treise, Professor Meg Lamme, Professor Linda Perry, Professor Michael Mitrook, Professor Johanna Cleary, and Professor Linda Hon. I also thank Professor Al an Freitag from the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, who provide d us a wonderful internationa l public relations course in London. I thank Jody Hedge at the Graduate Di vision for all her thoughtful work. I would also thank my professors at the Chemistry Department and the College of Education, for their support for me to pursue a career that I truly love and want to spend my life with. I thank all my friends from my middle sc hool pals to those awesome friends at Peking University, to those I met at the Univ ersity of Florida and Regents College in

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v London. They are the best friends I could ask for, who have brought me endless love and joy. I especially want to thank my best friends here in the Department of Public Relations for their love, support, and in spiration: Shu-Yu Lin, Hyemin Yeon, Jiyang Bae, Jingyul Kim, Eyun-Jung Ki, Dylan Blaylock, and many more. I also thank my dearest friend, Fan Lin, for his unconditional love and trust. Most of all, I would thank my father Jian Wang, my mother Yuqin Xu, and my sister Yineng Wang, for their ever-lasting love, faith, and su pport throughout my lifetime. They give me the coolest family that I c ould ever imagine existed in this world.

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vi TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS.................................................................................................iv TABLE OF CONTENTS...................................................................................................vi LIST OF TABLES.............................................................................................................ix LIST OF FIGURES.............................................................................................................x ABSTRACT....................................................................................................................... xi CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION........................................................................................................1 2 LITERATURE REVIEW.............................................................................................4 Cross-National Conflict Shifting..................................................................................4 Crisis Response.............................................................................................................8 Stakeholder Activism and the New Media............................................................8 Rhetorical Approach in Crisis Response.............................................................11 Organizational Apologia/Se lf-Defense Discourse..............................................11 Apologia objectives......................................................................................11 The second level of typologies.....................................................................12 Crisis response suggestions..........................................................................15 Review of Case Studies Focusing on Crisis Response Strategies..............................18 3 CASE BACKGROUND AND RESEARCH QUESTIONS......................................25 Emergence of the Teflon Controversy........................................................................25 Evolution of the Teflon Crisis....................................................................................27 Research Questions and Hypotheses..........................................................................31 4 METHODOLOGY.....................................................................................................32 Time-Series Analysis of DuPont s Crisis Response Strategies..................................32 Online News Releases .........................................................................................32 Telephone Interview............................................................................................34 Quantitative Content Analysis of the Media Coverage..............................................34

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vii Time Span............................................................................................................35 Sample Profile.....................................................................................................35 English language news.................................................................................35 Chinese language news................................................................................36 Coding Sheet.......................................................................................................37 Pretest and Inter-coder Reliability.......................................................................37 Coding Category and Option...............................................................................38 Data Analysis.......................................................................................................39 5 FINDINGS..................................................................................................................40 Research Question 1...................................................................................................40 Initial Response to EWG allegations in 2003......................................................40 Response to EPA Preliminary Risk Assessment in 2003....................................43 Response to EPA Administra tive Allegation in 2004.........................................43 Delayed Initial Response by DuPont China in July............................................44 Late July Response to Escalated Teflon Scare....................................................45 August Response to Chinese Media Allegation..................................................49 September Response to U.S. Lawsuit Settlement...............................................50 October Response to CAIQ Test Result..............................................................51 Research Question 2...................................................................................................51 English Language News......................................................................................52 Story month and date....................................................................................52 Story features................................................................................................53 Narrative features.........................................................................................56 Reception of DuPont response and presentation of arguments....................57 Correlation findings......................................................................................58 Chinese Language News.....................................................................................58 Story month and date....................................................................................58 Story features................................................................................................59 Narrative features.........................................................................................60 Reception of DuPont response and presentation of arguments....................61 Research Questions 3..................................................................................................62 Hypothesis 1........................................................................................................63 Hypothesis 2........................................................................................................66 Hypothesis 3........................................................................................................66 Hypothesis 4........................................................................................................71 6 DISCUSSION.............................................................................................................74 Summary of the Teflon Case......................................................................................74 Summary of DuPonts Cris is Response Strategies.....................................................75 Apologia Objective and Comb ined Response Strategies....................................75 Internal Coherence...............................................................................................76 Argumentative/struct ural coherence............................................................76 Material coherence.......................................................................................77 Characterological coherence........................................................................78

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viii External Corroboration/Media Reception...........................................................79 A Reversed Cross-national Conflict Shift..................................................................81 Crisis Management Performance........................................................................82 Level of Media Interest.......................................................................................84 Social and Cultural Context.................................................................................84 Implication, Limitati on and Future Work...................................................................86 APPENDIX: CODING SHEET.........................................................................................89 LIST OF REFERENCES...................................................................................................96 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH...........................................................................................102

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ix LIST OF TABLES Table page 4-1. Sample profile of English language news and Chinese language news...................36 5-1. Crisis response strategies employed by U.S. DuPont before the Teflon crisis shifted to China........................................................................................................42 5-2. Crisis response strategi es employed by DuPont after the conflict shifted to China.48 5-3. Story month of English language news and Chinese language news.......................52 5-4. Story Features of English language news and Chinese language news...................55 5-5. Selection of Sources in English la nguage news and Chinese language news..........56 5-6. Correlation test of articl e length by number of publics, sources, direct quotes, and DuPont direct quotes (English language news).................................................58 5-7. Event location in the Chinese news and U.S. news coverage..................................63 5-8. Main focus and primary problem attr ibution in the Chinese and U.S. news coverage...................................................................................................................65 5-9. Use of sources with national character in the Chinese and U.S. news coverage.....67 5-10. T-test for the number of sources and di rect quotes used in the Chinese and U.S. news coverage..........................................................................................................67 5-11. Selection of sources in the Chinese and U.S. news coverage..................................69 5-12. One-way ANOVA for number of publics, number of sources, and number of direct quotes grouped by event locati on in the Chinese news coverage..................71 5-13. One-way ANOVA for number of publics, number of sources, and number of direct quotes grouped by event location in the combined news sample..................72 6-1. Media reception of DuPonts crisis response strategies...........................................79

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x LIST OF FIGURES Figure page 5-1 English language news frequency by story month...................................................53 5-2 English language news frequency by st ory month at different country origins.......54 5-3 Chinese news frequency by story month..................................................................59 5-4 Event location in the Chinese and U.S. news coverage...........................................64 5-5 Main focus in the Chinese and U.S. news coverage................................................65 5-6 Primary problem attribution in th e Chinese and U.S. news coverage......................66 5-7 Mean of number of sources and direct quotes in the Chinese and U.S. news coverage...................................................................................................................68 5-8 Selection of sources in the Chinese news coverage.................................................69 5-9 Selection of sources in the U.S. news coverage.......................................................70 5-10 Mean plot of number of publics by event location...................................................72 5-11 Mean plot of number of sources by event location..................................................72 5-12 Mean plot of number of direct quotes by event location..........................................73

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xi Abstract of Thesis Pres ented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Mast er of Arts in Mass Communication CROSS-NATIONAL CONFLICT SHIFTING: A CASE STUDY OF THE DUPONT TEFLON CRISIS IN CHINA By Yimin Wang August 2005 Chair: Juan-Carlos Molleda Major Department: Journalism and Communications Few previous crisis studies have focuse d on transnational processes, which could provide a fresh and valuable perspective for the global public relations field of study in terms of transnational crisis planning and im plementation. Thus, this thesis examines and interprets a transnational crisis, the DuPont Teflon crisis, focusing on the interaction between the involved transnational corporat ions crisis management efforts and the global media coverage. This crisis originat ed in the United States due to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agencys action agai nst DuPont, and then unexpectedly shifted to China and turned into an escalated domes tic crisis. The purpose of this study was to (1) illustrate various challenges in crisis mana gement posed by transnational processes, and (2) test and expand the cross-nationa l conflict shifting (CNCS) theory. In this study, DuPonts news releases and an interview with its public affairs manager were analyzed to identify its respons e strategies throughout th e life cycle of the Teflon crisis. In addition, a quantitative c ontent analysis of th e English and Chinese

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xii language news coverage of the Teflon crisis was conducted to test the CNCS theory and examine the media reception of DuPonts response strategies. The study found DuPont China unprepared for the crisis in terms of early signal detection and prompt initial response. DuPont subsequently implemented a series of active turnaround actions and multiple response strategies. However, the damage to the companys reputation and the Chinese Teflon ma rket due to its res ponse lapses in the early stage of the crisis could be hard to recover from in the short term. The findings of the study i ndicated that DuPont employed a strategy mix mainly combining clarification, comparison, and bolstering strategies, supplemented by strategies of attack, sh ift blame, and praising others. Thes e strategies were used to offer a competing narrative consideri ng the unfavorable perceptions held by its stakeholders and redefine the alleged acts to less offensiv eness. DuPonts combined strategies were found internally coherent and partiall y corroborated by the media coverage. The study indicated a reversed CNCS phenomenon: the conflict involving a transnational corporation shifts from a home countr y to a host country through international media and results in greater impact in the host country. The impact could potentially lead to repercussions in th e corporations home country. Based on the findings from testing of the hypotheses, the study suggested interpreting such a phenomenon from three perspectives: the crisis management performance of the involved transnational corporation, the level of media interest in the involved issue, and the unique and complicated social and cultural context of the involved country.

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1 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION Globalization of politics, business trans actions, news, and information technology has blurred traditional geographic boundaries as information flows instantly and freely across borders. Today transnational organiza tions are operating under the oversight of global players such as non-governmental or ganizations (NGOs), governments, and global media. According to Molleda and Connolly-Ahern (2002), transnational corporations (TNCs) decisions, actions, and operations that affect domestic publics in a country could also impact transnational publics in many locations and home publics at their headquarters. In order to study public rela tions practices during such transnational processes, a team of researchers developed the theory of cross-na tional conflict shifting (CNCS) with various propositions (Molleda & Connolly-Ahern, 2002; Molleda & Quinn, 2004; Molleda, Connolly-Ahern, & Quinn, 2005). Within this theoretical framework, a conflict or crisis involving a TNC in one country could potentially shift to another country or countries, facing th e threat of an escalated cr isis, which could tarnish its reputation and even result in negative financ ial consequences at a transnational level. Crisis response research has been an impor tant and increasingly growing area in the public relations field (e.g., Benoit, 1 997; Coombs, 1995; Coombs, 1999c; GonzalesHerrero & Pratt, 1995; Hearit, 1999; Heath & Millar, 2004; Ihlen, 2002). However, few previous studies have focused on cross-nationa l or transnational processes, which could offer a fresh perspective of systematic cr isis preparation for TNCs (e.g., Taylor, 2000).

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2 Often, a cross-national crisis appears unantic ipated and unreasonable. Close studies of existing cross-national crises ar e imperative for the global pub lic relations field to better understand the conflict or crisis dynamic comp licated by interactions among key players and other contextual or envi ronmental factors (see Ver i L. Grunig, & J. Grunig, 1996; Sriramesh & Ver i 2003). Thus the purpose of this paper is to first integrate the theory of CNCS and crisis response literature, and then introduce, exam ine, and interpret a transnational crisis focusing on the interaction between the invol ved TNCs crisis management efforts and the media coverage. This recent corporate cr isis, the DuPont Teflon crisis in China, originated in the United States due to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agencys (EPA) administrative action against DuPont, which then shifted to China where it transformed into a consumer product safety crisis. This case study provides a good opportunity to (1) illustrate various challenges in crisis management practices posed by transn ational processes and (2) test and expand the theory of CNCS in a unique Chinese scenario. In addition to examining the dynamic evolution of the DuPont Teflon crisis, th e study analyzes DuPonts crisis response discourse by evaluating its internal coheren ce and determining its external co rroboration through a systematic analysis of the Chines e media and international media coverage. China is one of the fastest growing market s in the world, yet with a relatively short history and weak tradition for public relatio ns practice and research. Thus this study seeks to examine the crisis communication planning and implementation strategies employed by public relations managers wo rking for a TNC expanded to the Chinese market. Besides, this study also seeks to expand the knowledge base of global public

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3 relations by adding a unique Chinese perspectiv e with its distinct social and cultural context.

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4 CHAPTER 2 LITERATURE REVIEW Cross-National Conflict Shifting According to German international bu siness scholars Weldge and Holtbrgge (2001, p. 323, cited in Molleda & Connolly -Ahern, 2002), today transnational corporations (TNCs) are confr onted with globally active gr oups, which oversight their behaviors in different oper ational sites. Berg and Ho ltbrgge (2001, p. 112, cited in Molleda & Connolly-Ahern, 2002) acknowledge that interest groups in one country condemn multinational corporations for wh at they are doing in other countries. Conflicts, therefore, are no longe r isolated in a single country where they originated, but may be fought in other countries where interest groups can b est push through their position (Weldge & Holtbrgge, 2001, p. 324, cited in Molleda & Connolly-Ahern, 2002). Molleda and Connolly-Ahern (2002) borro wed this concept of cross-national conflict shifting (CNCS) from the discipline of international management and introduced it to the public relations academia in 2002. Th ey illustrate and expand the concept to a systematic conceptualization of CNCS theory as it relates to the global public relations field. With todays unprecedented power of Intern et communications, a local issue could easily shift across national borders and impact stakeholders internationally. Such crossnational conflict shifts involve a variety of publics at various geographical levels, namely,

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5 host, home, and transnati onal publics (e.g., NGOs and activist groups, global media outlets, shareholders) (Mo lleda & Connolly-Ahern, 2002). To illustrate the CNCS conceptualiza tion, Molleda and Connolly-Ahern (2002) provide a case study where a legal incident involving America Online Latin America (AOLA) in Brazil caused repercussions in th e U.S. and European financial markets. Molleda and Connolly-Ahern (2002) further elab orate the conceptualiz ation of CNCS as: There are organizational decisi ons, actions and operations that affect publics in one country and have an impact internationally. This impact seems to be greater at the home country of the organization or organizations involved, which could be explained by the relevance and proximity of organization for the home publics. Domestic conflicts are increasingly shifti ng worldwide because of the growth of international transactions, transpor tation and communication, especially information technology. (p. 4) Molleda and Quinn (2004) expand the dyna mic of CNCS theory and use four additional cases to illustrate its various com ponents, including: (1) th e characteristics of the issue, (2) the ways a national conflict r eaches transnational audiences; and (3) the parties involved or affected (p. 3). Mo lleda and Quinn propose ten propositions for further testing (p. 5-7): Proposition 1 Cross-national conflict shifting is mainly related to corporate social performance issues and negative econo mic consequences of globalization. Proposition 2. The magnitude of a cross-national conflict shifting will increase when it starts in an emergent or developing economy because of the greater pressure the transnational corporation will face in the host country and from the international activist community. Proposition 3. Conflicts that occur in developed nations usually have a shorter life and do not cross borders as often as conflicts that start in developi ng nations or emergent economies.

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6 Proposition 4. A greater number of involved pa rties will characterize a crossnational conflict shift in which a developed nations transnational corporation is the principal participant of the crisis. Proposition 5. A lower number of involved part ies will characterize a crossnational conflict shift in which a developing nation or emergent economy corporation is the principal participant of the conflict. Proposition 6. Transnational corporations that produce or commercialize tangible, boycottable products are more likely to receive attention than those who produce and commercialize intangible services. Proposition 7. Transnational corporations headquar tered in developed nations that produce or are part of a national conflict outside their home country will attract significant attention from global NGOs, in ternational regulato ry bodies, national governments, organized citizen groups, and in ternational news agencies and global media outlets. Proposition 8. The direct involvement of a tran snational corporation in a crossnational conflict shift will produce greater consequences and demand a more comprehensive set of responses than a transnational corporati on that is indirectly related to the issue. Proposition 9. National conflicts shift to the inte rnational arena when (primarily) global NGOs or media report on the situation to audiences or publics in different parts of the world. However, there will be occasions in which the transnational corporation itself alerts authorities in its home country about improper actions or behaviors the transnational corporatio n is involved overseas.

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7 Proposition 10. National conflicts with a great human-interest focus are likely to be shifted to the international arena. To test these propositions, Molleda et al. (2005) conduct a content analysis of news coverage of a Lesotho (a Southern African nation) bribery scandal which was shifted to the international scenario, indicating the intr icacy and magnitude of interactions amongst different players involved. Three hyp otheses are tested and supported: Hypothesis 1. News media outlets will publish stories about international conflicts in greater length when the story focuses on corporate players from the news medias country of origin. Hypothesis 2. The news coverage of the Lesot ho case will be characterized by the use of more sources and quotes in the No rth American (Canada-United States) news coverage than in the European and African coverage. Hypothesis 3. The news coverage of the Lesotho case will be more extensive (i.e., number of sources and number of quotes) in Europe than Africa, yet less intensive than in North America (Canada-United States). Molleda et al. (2005) call for more studies to further test and develop the theory of CNCS. Future work is expected to include ca se studies of cross-na tional conflict shifts not directly involving a government functi on, other media sources besides newspapers, and a wider range of language sources in cases involving a non-English speaking country (Molleda et al., 2005). Thus in this thesis the DuPont Teflon cris is in China is introduced to serve such purposes, focusing on a corporate crisis respons e perspective. This recent cross-national conflict shift or transnational crisis originated from the United States due to the U.S.

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8 Environmental Protection Agencys admini strative action against DuPont, and then shifted to China where it transformed into a consumer product safety crisis. Crisis Response Organizational crisis is typical ly associated with an untimely event that has actual or potential consequences for stakeholders in terests as well as the reputation of the organization suffering from the crisis (H eath & Millar, 2004, p. 2). Crisis involves events and outcomes about which key stakehol ders make attribution regarding cause and responsibility (Coombs & Holladay, 1996). If poorly managed, crisis can damage the organizations reputation and its efforts to create understanding and maintain mutually beneficial relationships with its stakeholders. It may even mature into a public policy issue and affect the organizati ons ability to compete in the marketplace (Heath & Millar, 2004). Today, organizations are becoming more su sceptible to crises due to a variety of environmental developments (Barton, 1993). Stakeholder Activism and the New Media According to Hearits (1999) review Grunigs (1989, 1992, 1997, cited in Hearit, 1999) situational theory of publics identif ies three factorsproblem recognition, constraint recognition, and level of i nvolvementto interpret the active degree stakeholders engage in seeking informa tion and criticizing the organization under question. Following this reasoni ng, high degree of problem recognition, low degree of external constraint, and high de gree of emotional or financ ial involvement would prompt latent publics to become more active publics and get i nvolved in a crisis situation (Hearit, 1999). Today, new communication technologies ha ve empowered individuals with an unprecedented degree of information access and public influence (Badaracco, 1998).

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9 Websites, chat rooms, and other online commun ity forums have permeated into peoples daily life. Individuals beco me more likely to access info rmation concerned, link with other like-minded stakeholders, share info rmation and observations, influence each others meaning systems, and unite to initia te coordinated actions (Coombs, 1998; Cozier & Witmer, 2001; Hearit, 1999). With easy acc ess to the Internet and electronic publishing, and the emergence and increasi ng popularity of personal journalismblogs, the general public, rather than a limited number of social elites, are allowed to accelerate awareness, participate in the coverage of an incident, and exert influence on the crisis evolution. Therefore, the new media have i ndeed resulted in a heightened level of problem recognition and involvement and a lowered level of external constraint. Stakeholders are increasingly becoming mo re active and vocal when dealing with organizations under siege (Hearit, 1999). Stakeholder groups such as customers, shareholders, employees, governments, NGOs, and representatives of the media, have become more and more important players in organizational crises. Irate customers are more likely to speak out about consumer issues and take them to the public (Mayna rd, 1993). Disgruntled shareholders have fought hard to exert more control over corp orate governance (Star, 1993). Activist groups are more organized and shrewd than ever to initiate and instigate negative public relations campaigns, boycotts, and negative informa tion dissemination through the Internet (Mitroff, 1994). Furthermore, corporations are challenged by interventions from governments and NGOs with regard to thei r business ethics and behaviors (Coombs, 1999c).

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10 Media, or the firestorm of media attenti on following an issue or an accident, have long been viewed by many public relations practi tioners at the epicen ter of catalyzing and sustaining crises (Coombs, 1999c; Ketchum, 2004; Moore, 2004). Today new communication technologies have enabled th e media to far exceed the traditional print media and extend to encompass faster, 24/7, mo re versatile and inte ractive channels. On the other hand, focusing on the instant releasi ng and updating of breaking news stories, Internet newsgroups are typically less strictly monitored in terms of news sources and facts accuracy (Hearit, 1999). In todays high-tech, high-volume co mmunication environment, the instant transmission of news through cables and the In ternet across the globe can turn a formal isolated local issue or crisis into an international hot topic within minutes (Coombs, 1999c; Ketchum, 2004; Moore, 2004). Due to the me dia interest in cris es, a situation in a minor market that used to be of an insi gnificant influence may quickly become major news in any market in the world in a rainfall of news coverage from international media sources (Ketchum, 2004). Consequently, the rise of stakeholder ac tivism and the proliferation of the new media have combined to reinforce their powers to evoke and intensify conflicts or crises (Barton, 1993; Coombs, 1999c; Mitroff, 1994; Moore, 2004). Organizations face crises that have profound and dramatic impacts on the organizations and their surrounding communities (Gonzales-Herrero & Pratt, 1995; Moore, 2004). The escalated risks of financial and reputational damages due to th e environmental developments have forced organizations to place higher premiums on crisis management (Coombs, 1999c).

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11 Rhetorical Approach in Crisis Response Among the various branches of crisis literatur e, crisis response is one of the most popular topics and a diverse and increasin gly growing field (C oombs, 1999b). Many researches have been conducted to analy ze organizational response and defense in disasters, scandals, ill egalities, and corporate product safety incidents (Hearit, 1999). According to Heath and Millar (2004), the responsibility for a crisis, its magnitude, and its duration are contestable. Therefore, a rhetorical approach has been frequently applied by many scholars in crisis response studies, which features organizations discourse over time, their response options a nd processes, and their message development and presentation (Ihlen, 2002; H eath & Millar, 2004). Such a rh etorical approach stresses the use of language to influence perceptions of the organization and the crisis (Bechler, 2004). Also, it focuses on the role that info rmation, framing, and interpretation plays in the crisis evolution and out come (Heath & Millar, 2004). Organizational Apologia/Self-Defense Discourse Apologia objectives Under the surge of attacks, organizations regularly refer to mass media and employ self-defense discourse, or apologia, to clea r their names, mitigate hostility, and repair the damage to their reputation (Hearit, 1999). Organizational apologia is a justifiable form of corporate communicati on which presents a compelli ng explanation of its actions and counter descriptionto situate allege d wrongdoing in a more favorable context (Hearit, 1994, p. 115). According to Hearit (1994), the obje ctives of organizational apologia are: 1. Present a competing narrative descri bing the situation favorable to the organization, often by strategic definitions that seek to delimit the issue by establishing certain premises.

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12 2. Diffuse anger and hostility toward the or ganization through a st atement of regret. 3. Dissociate the organization fr om the wrongdoing. (Ihlen, 2002, p. 188) The second level of typologies Many scholars have conducted research to examine the organizational crisis responses and identify the recurring self-defense strate gies. A number of typology systems have been proposed by various resear chers to categorize re sponse strategies and interpret how corporate entities or individuals execute their self-defense in a crisis situation. Among them, Benoits (1995a) fi ve-strategy, 14-subcategory typology is regarded as the most comprehensive image re storation typology widely used in personal and corporate image repair studies (e.g., Benoit, 1995a, 1995b, 1997, 1998, 2004; Benoit & Brinson, 1994; Brinson & Benoit, 1996, 1999; Frantz & Blumenthal, 1994; Sellnow & Ulmer, 1995). On the other hand, Coombs (1999b) seven-category typology, which is then further developed and refined into a th ree-posture typology (2004) is believed to be most closely related to p ublic relations efforts (Seeg er, Sellnow, & Ulmer, 2003). Benoits typology. Base on past research, Benoit (1995a) develops the image repair typology applicable for both personal and organizational repu tation restoration efforts. It includes five general strategies as denial, evading of responsibility, reducing offensiveness of event, correc tive action, and mortification. Denial includes two subcategories. Simple denial is employed when the organization denies any respons ibility for an event. Shifting blame, or scapegoating, on contrast, intends to shift the blame from the organization to outside individuals or agencies. Evading responsibility has four subcategories incl uding Provocation, defeasibility, accident, and good intentions. Provocation clai ms that the accused action was merely

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13 responsive to anothers offensive action. De feasibility refers to the claim by the organization as lack of information or control. Accident, is employed when the organization claims that the offe nsive action occurred by accident. Good Intentions, in contrast, claims that the offensive action was done with good intentions. Reducing offensiveness of event contains six subcategories. Bolstering emphasizes the positive characteristics they have or positive acts they have done. Minimization downplays the negative effect due to the wr ongful act. Differentiation differentiates the accused act from other similar but more offensive ones. Transcendence places the accused act in a more favorable context. Att ack accuser damages the credibility of the source of allegation, whereas compensation reimburses the victim to mitigate the negative effect. The last two general strategies are corrective action and mortification Corrective action refers to the strategy when the accuse d promises to correct the problem (e.g., restore operation to preexist ed state or prevent the recurrence of such problem). Mortification on the other hand, is the strategy when the accused confesses and begs for forgiveness. Coombs typology. When a communicative dialogue is taken, the organization has in fact engaged in apologia, or some degr ee of concession, with its stakeholders (Ihlen, 2002). Coombs (2004) typology differs from Be noits (1995a) by stressing a series of strategies on a continuum from defensive to accommodative. Coombs (2004) categories corporate defense strategies into thre e posturesdeny, diminish, and repaireach represents a set of strategies shari ng similar communicative goals as follows:

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14 The deny posture, as the most defensive posture includes three strategies that claim either no crisis occurred or that the organi zation has no responsibility for the crisis. Clarification denies the cris is happened and reinforces the denial by explaining why the event could not have happened. Attack levels charges against the accusers to prompt the stop of making charges. Shifting blame admits a crisis event did occur but places the blame outside the organization. The diminish posture, a moderate posture in the defensive-accommodative continuum, represents a set of strategies th at seek to alter pub lics attributions by reframing how publics should inte rpret the crisis. It includes two genera l strategies as Excuse and justification when the organiza tion acknowledges the occu rrence of the crisis and its involvement in the crisis. Excuse is employed to minimize the organizations responsibility for the crisis event, which could be done by deny intent and deny violation (cannot control events lead ing to the crisis). Justif ication, on the hand, accepts responsibility but seeks to offs et the negativity associated with the crisis. It could be reached through minimizing (claiming the cr isis creates no/little damage and pose no/little threat to stakeholders interest), comparison (not as bad as similar crisis), big picture (places the crisis in a larger context and argues that such crises are the price that must be paid for reaching some larger, desira ble goal), and misrepresentation (argues that the crisis is not as bad as others make it out to be). The repair posture, the most accommodative postur e, contains six strategies that seek to improve the organizations image in some way. Suffering stresses that the organization is also a victim in the crisis Bolstering reminds stakeholders of the good deeds an organization has done in the past. Pr aising others uses flattery words toward a

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15 stakeholder to win its approval of the orga nization. Compensation o ffers stakeholders gifts designed to counterbalan ce the crisis. Corrective action seeks to restore the crisis situation to normal operation and/or promises to make changes which will prevent a repeat of the crisis in the future. Apol ogy has the organization accept responsibility for the crisis and ask stakeholders for forgiveness. Crisis response suggestions Openness, promptness, and compassion. Most crisis response experts argue against the stonewalling tactic, or the complete refusal to comment or cooperate when an organization is accused of wrong doing (Coo mbs, 1995; Hearit, 1994; Ihlen, 2002). On the contrary, when a crisis hits, the or ganization needs to communicate with its stakeholders in a prompt and open manner (Coombs, 1999b). Promptness in response has been viewed as a key element to handle crisis situations. Because stakeholders want to know the information and w ill listen to whoever ready to answer their questi ons (Fearn-Banks, 1996; Hear it, 1994). If an organization remains silent or delays to respond, specu lations and rumors will quickly fill the information void particularly considering the current new media environment (Coombs, 1999b). Besides, delay in responding to the me dia can create the perception that the accused has something to hide, as 65 percent of survey respondents assumed that no comment implied guilt (Lerbinger, 1997). Tell it early, tell it all, and tell it yourself is regarded as an important guideline to follow in the new information age when fact s can hardly be covered up (Ketchum, 2004). Crisis experts stress the necessity of ope nness in crisis communication, meaning the organization being available and willing to di sclose information to the media and other stakeholders (Coombs, 1999b). Organizationa l communication resear ch also indicates

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16 openness as an effective element in build ing positive communication relationship (Richmond & McCroskey, 1992). In addition, some crisis response experts stress showing compassion to stakeholders and noting their interests as a nother essential element in cr afting crisis response messages (e.g., Coombs, 1999c; Coombs & Holladay, 199 6; Marcus & Goodman, 1991; Siomkos & Shrivastava, 1993). The provision of instru cting information and increased statements of compassion are proved to have a positively effect on stakeholders perceptions of organizational reputation, account honor ing, and supportive behavior (Coombs, 1999c). Internal coherence. Consistency, or the internal c oherence of an organizations self-defense strategies, significantly infl uences the success or the failure of its communication efforts (Ihlen, 2002). A combinat ion of crisis response strategies is suggested to be employed to reinforce th e image restoration power. However, the prerequisite of mixing different strategies is that the overa ll message should be free of contradiction (Barton, 1993; Ihlen, 2002). Fo r instance, crisis managers should not combine deny strategies with any strategies that acknowledg e the occurring of a crisis (Coombs, 2004). The combined use of accide nt and denying mistakes is viewed as contradictory, which undermines an organiza tions mortification intent (Drumheller & Benoit, 2004). According to Coombs (1998) situational crisis communication theory, organizational apologia is a discourse contro lled by situations. Crisis managers should match their communication strategies to the contingent situational factors (Coombs, 1999b), and the degree of perceived responsibil ity attached to the organization (Ihlen,

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17 2002). Changes in an organizations response strategies are necessary when a crisis evolves and the new situation prompts the or ganization to alter it s initial position. This, however, could be potentially pr oblematic if the pub lic relations managers fail to respond consistently during a crisis, which could da mage the credibility of the organizations response (Coombs, 1999b). In Ihlens (2002) case study, the author seeks to assess the internal coherence of the changing crisis-response strategies employe d by Mercedes. Ihlen (2002) proposes an evaluation strategy concentrating on three perspe ctives built on Fisher (1987)s coherence theory: 1. Argumentative/structural coherence: the story being told must have an internal logic to it, meaning it should hang toge ther. The characters must seem to act from good reasons and so forth. 2. Material coherence: the story needs ex ternal coherence. It should not overlook important facts, counterarguments, or relevant issues. The story must be complete in terms of the events pr eviously learned from other sources. 3. Characterological coherence: the narrators or the actors of the story must be believable. They should inhi bit sets of fairly predic table and stable actional tendencies and thereby build ethos. (p. 191-192) Ihlen (2002) notes that charactergorical coherence has to be weighed against the material coherence. As the crisis evolves into a new context, the media pressure or other external facts may force the organization to change its response strategies. When an initial argument proves invalid or unaccep table, the organizations insisting on charactergorical coherence may fail its communication efforts to reach material coherence. Crisis reception/external corroboration. To evaluate the effectiveness of organizational apologia, assessments have to be conducted on the crisis reception, or how communication-targeted publics accept the cr isis response given by the organization

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18 accused. Ideally, reactions from multiple stak eholders should be analyzed. Measurement results of their satisfaction to the organizational apologia and their perceptions of the organizations responsibility and reputation ar e important to determine the outcome of organizational apologia. Crisis response scholars have employed di fferent methods to study crisis reception as an indicator of an organizations crisis ma nagement performance. Media analysis is an important and typical tool to study the impact of organi zational apologia. Newsgroups interpretations of an organizations crisis response messages and be haviors are analyzed, which could be used as external corroborati on of the organizations crisis communication efforts. Additional methods that serve simila r purpose include interviews, surveys, and public opinion polls. Besides, empirical experiments have been conducted to determine the effectiveness of different strategies in a given situation. For example, in Coombs and Schmidts (2000) study, Coombs and Schmidt design an experiment with the Texaco crisis scenario and actual messages employed by Texaco. This st rategy is used to quantitatively test hypotheses involving respondents reactions to Texacos response strategies. Review of Case Studies Focusing on Crisis Response Strategies AT&Ts defense after its l ong-distance service interruption in New York in 1991 is analyzed by Benoit and Brinson (1994). The researchers find that AT&T initially attempted to shift the blame to lower-level wo rkers but as more of the story was exposed, AT&T chose to use the strategies of mo rtification (apologiz ing) and bolstering (emphasizing its meritsits commitment to excellence, heavy investment in its service, and skilled workers), and finally, AT&T promised to employ corrective action (promising a comprehensive review of its ope rations to anticipate and prevent future

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19 problems). The authors conclude that AT&Ts later crisis response effort and strategies were well conceived and should have help ed to restore the companys image. Benoit (1995a) analyzes Exxons respons e to the Valdez oil spill in 1989 and contends Exxons image restoration campaign wa s not very effectual. Exxon mainly used shifting blame strategy supplemented by mini mization (downplaying the magnitude of the problem), bolstering (str essing its image as a concer ned company), and corrective action (promising to alleviate the problem). Benoit argues that Exxons attempt to shift the blame for the accident to Captain Hazel wood might be sensible because he was found drinking before the accident. However, the shif ting of blame for the delay in the clean-up to slow authorization from the state of Alaska and the Coast Guard failed to be plausible. Furthermore, Exxons effort to minimize the extent of the problem was invalidated by TV and newspaper coverage; its slow and inept clean-up undermined the credibility of its effort in bolstering and corrective action. Benoit (1995a) also studies Union Carb ides response to its 1984 gas leak in Bhopal, India which killed thousands. Be noit identified Union Carbides primary strategies as bolstering a nd corrective action (a relief fund, an orphanage, medical supplies, and medical personnel) and finds th em appropriate. However, the author notes the weakness of this response in lacking of promised actions to prevent the problem recurrence. Similarly, Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Colas thr ee years of advertising (1990-1992) in a trade publication, Nations Restaurant Ne ws, is examined by Benoit (1995a) on how Coke countered Pepsis charge (claiming th at Coke charged less on McDonalds than other customers) and fired agai nst Pepsi (pointing out that Pe psi used the profits it earned

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20 from its customers to own fast food restau rants including 19,500 Taco Bells, KFCs, and Pizza Huts). Benoit argues that Coke and Pe psi both employed bolstering and attacking accusers, and Coke also used simple denial Cokes attack and defense, however, was perceived more persuasive a nd superior than Pepsis. Dow Cornings defense against the harsh cr iticism over the potential danger of its breast implants is studied by Brinson and Benoit (1996). Three phases are identified including the initial denial, minimization, bolstering, and attacking accusers, the later transcendence due to the disclo sure of its own damaging inte rnal documents, and the final mortification and corrective ac tion. The author notes that only when Dow Corning shifted its position to corrective action di d the attack begin to abate. Benoit and Czerwinski (1997) analy ze USAirs response to Frantz and Blumenthals (1994) the accusation in The New York Times for lack of safety after its 1994 Pittsburgh crash which killed 132 people. USAir put out three newspaper full-page letter ads from its management, pilots, and flight attendants, us ing bolstering, denial (denying unsafe operation), and corrective ac tion (appointment of an Air Force General to oversee safety). According to the author s judgment, these de fense strategies are relatively unsuccessful because denial contra dicts with corrective action, and the missing of a letter from the ground crew to counter the charge of delayed repair backfires. Benoit (1998) examines the tobacco industr ys defense against th e attacks from TV shows (Prime Time Live and Day One) and Commissioner Kessler of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) alleging th at the companies knowingly a dded nicotine to cigarettes out of greed when they were aware of th e addictiveness of cigarettes. Based on the industrys testimony in Congress and newspaper advertising, Benoit ac knowledges that it

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21 used denial (denying nicotine a nd cigarettes are addicting and that they add nicotine to cigarettes), as well as bolstering a nd good intentions, attacking accusers, and differentiation (cigarettes are not like heroin, but more sim ilar to Twinkies). Although these strategies are considered largely ine ffective compared to the attack, the author points out that both the attack and the defe nse indicate how multiple strategies could function to reinforce main ideas. Brinson and Benoit (1999) analyze Texacos response to the accusation of racism due to a private remark about how Afri can-Americans were like black jelly beansglued to the bottom of the jar. Te xaco is found to have employed bolstering, corrective action, mortification, and shifting the blame (shifti ng blame to a group of bad apples employees). Hearit (1999) studies Intel s flawed chip crisis in 1994, which was initiated by Internet news groups criticism that Intel s Pentium processor wa s prone to error in sophisticated calculations due to flaws in the chips. According to th e study, the first and primary response Intel enacted was a denial posture and a strategy of minimization (denying that the character of the flaw wa s significant enough to cause concern). Intel claimed that statistically, the average pe rson might see this problem once in every 27,000 years (Clark, 1994, p. 84), but this an alogy was proved unpersuasive according to Hearit's (1999) interpretation. This in fact evoked another round of criticism that Intel was insensitive to customers concerns. When IBM came out to counter Intels minimization strategy declaring the error occurred once every 24 days, Intel had to shift their stance and announce public apologies and the replacement of the chips. In particular, the author applie s Grunig's (1989, 1992, 1997) situa tional theory of publics to

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22 the phenomenon of Internet newsgroups a nd argues that the Internet technology facilitates the formation of active publics. Hearit (1999) also suggests companies to use staff or hire firms (using r eadily available technology) to monitor Internet news groups for criticism to better re spond to customers needs. Ihlen (2002) conducts an in-dep th analysis of Mercedess changing responses to the public relations crisis triggered by Mercedes A-Classs overturn duri ng test drives right after its October 1997 launch. The author argues that Mercedes even tual success in the restoration of the companys reputation and th e relaunch of the A-Class might be due to its effective response strategiesmainly ingr atiation and corr ective actionin the latest phase of the crisis, a lthough this effort has been part ly set off by its incoherence in response messages. Thus the author suggests public relations managers be cautious when combining and changing response strategies in crisis communication considering the coherence principle. Greer and Moreland (2003) study American Airlines (AA) and United Airlines (UA) websites crisis communication effort s during the first three weeks following the terrorist attacks of Septem ber 11, 2001. According to Stur ges (1994) response phases propositions, corporate messages should shift fro m internalizing info rmation prior to or in the early stage of a crisis to instructing communication in crisis breakout stage and then to adjusting communication as crisis su bsides and then internalizing message as the crisis subsides. The st udy indicates that both AA and UA followed Sturges (1994) suggestions and employed their corporate we bsites to convey instruction information (such as facts and guiding information) and adjusting communication (such as condolence messages and links to relief organizations). The au thors suggest that airlines

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23 use online communication as an essential tool to offer immediate response and frequent updates to their diverse pub lics in attack situations. The U.S. Navys image restoration comm unication following the USS Greeneville collision with the Japanese trawler nearby P earl Harbor, which killed nine people, is investigated by Drumheller and Benoit (2004). According to the study, U.S. Navy employed mortification as their primary st rategy, which is deemed suitable to the Japanese culture; however, a direct apol ogy to the victims families was perceived important by Japanese people but was act ually missing. The authors suggest four guidelines for image repair effort in crisis situations involving cultural issues: (1) involve a culturally versed employee or consul tant; (2) engage dipl omatic relations to enhance the likelihood of the acceptance of imag e restoration strategi es; (3) strategically identify compatible combinations of defens e strategies; and (4) present a consistent defense (p. 184) Coombs (2004) proposes a system of Cr isis Communication Standards derived from previous crisis literature. He studies the West Pharmaceuticals (West) massive explosion at its facility killing six employ ees in 2003 and evalua tes Wests crisis response strategies against the Crisis Co mmunication Standards. He points out that Wests crisis response is perceived effec tive through addressing the concerns and needs of employee and customer stakeholders. None theless, the author suggests the crisis managers could have done better by portrayi ng an accidental nature of the crisis and presenting possible corrective actions. Hearit and Brown (2004) anal yze Merrill Lynchs reputati on restoration discourse responding to its public relations crisis when Attorney General of New York opened an

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24 investigation of fraud at Me rrill Lynch in 2001. The crisis was initiated by the damaging emails indicating analysts were recommendi ng underperformed stocks to individual investors to profit from investment banks fees charging those companies. The study demonstrates a standard crisis response dynamic used by financial firms, which consists of the initial denial and count er-attack and the eventual se ttlement with its accusers offering a grudging apology and a large monetary compensation as concrete evidence of wrongdoing is presented. The authors argue that these companies attempt to make apology but avoid legal liability; thus in contemporary discourse compensation should be interpreted as an argot that functions as an admission of cu lpability (p. 459). Zhang and Benoit (2004) analyze the messa ge strategies of the Saudi Arabias image restoration campaign after September 11 against accusations which alleged that Saudi supported terrorism but failed to be allies with the United States. The study identifies denial, attacking accu sers and bolstering as major im age repair strategies, with minor emphasis on defeasibility, good inten tions and differentiation. The authors judge Saudis image repair effort as partially eff ective through evaluating the persuasiveness of each strategy, supplemented with results of public opinion polls as external evidence.

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25 CHAPTER 3 CASE BACKGROUND AND RESEARCH QUESTIONS Emergence of the Teflon Controversy Teflon, one of DuPonts hugely successful brands as non-stick coating, has spurred public debate because of its close relations wi th a type of controversial chemical called PFOA or C8 (the acronym of pe rfluorooctanoic acid and its principal salts). According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)s fact sheet, PFOA is a man-made chemical that does not exist naturally in the environment. It is used as an essential processing aid in the manufacture of fluoropolym ers, such as the Teflon coating. As the EPA claims, although fluoropolymers are made using PFOA, the finished products themselves are not expected to contain PFOA (EPA, 2004, p. 1). Fluoropolymers contribute im portant properties including fire resistance and oil, stain, grease, and water repellency, which allo w their applications to pervade almost all industry segments and involve some worldfamous consumer product brands such as Teflon, Stainmaster, Scotchgard and Gore-Tex As a personification of the success of modern chemistry, PFOA was perceived as a mi racle chemical which is extremely stable and biologically inert for decades. However, a series of scientific findings released since the late 1990s showed that PFOA could pose potential risk to human health and the environment although considerable scient ific uncertainty remains (EPA, 2005). Perfluorochemicals (PFCs) caught the EPA s attention in 1999 in the wake of discoveries from blood banks samples provided by the 3M Company (3M). The data indicated that perfluorooctyl sulfonates (PFOS) is persis tent, unexpectedly toxic, and

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26 bioaccumulative, and turned up in the blood of more than 90 percent of the U.S. population. 3M, the sole manufact urer of PFOS in the United States, announced in May 2000 it was discontinuing the production of perfluorochemicals including PFOS and PFOA following negotiations with the EPA. It was this decision that led DuPont to promptly announce it would begin making PF OA itself. Meanwhile, findings on PFOS prompted the EPA to expand its investiga tion in June 2000 to encompass PFOA, which also occurs in human blood samples, as to whether it might present similar concerns associated with PFOS (EPA, 2003). In August 2001, residents of Ohio and West Virginia living near DuPonts Teflon manufacture plant filed a class-action laws uit against DuPont. The suit alleged the company of knowingly contam inating the local land, air and water supply system by discharging PFOA without informing the comm unity and that PFOA exposure had caused them ill (Cortese, 2004). In September 2002, the EPA began a priority review on PFOA as the developmental toxicity data, the car cinogenicity data, and the blood monitoring data presented in an interim revised hazard assessment raised the possibility that PFOA might meet the criteria for consideration under Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) section 4(f) (EPA, 2003). In April of 2003, the Environmental Wo rking Group (EWG), a Washington-based environmental advocacy group as well as the mo st vocal critic against DuPont, petitioned the EPA to enforce federal actions agains t DuPont. As EWG declared, PFCs belong to the rogues gallery of highly toxic, extraordinarily persistent chemicals that pervasively contaminate human blood and wildlife the wo rld overPFCs seem destined to supplant DDT, PCBs, dioxin and other chemicals as the most notorious, global chemical

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27 contaminants ever produced (EWG, 2003). EW G alleged that DuPont had covered up significant health and envir onmental monitoring results re quired by federal reporting laws for almost 20 years: The petition presented extensive eviden ce, based almost entirely on internal DuPont documents, that the company w ithheld knowledge of drinking water contamination with the key Teflon manufact uring ingredient, C-8, in the tap water of the Little Hocking, Ohio, and Lubeck, West Virginia, water systems from the time this contamination was first discovered in 1984, until 2001. The petition also provided detailed documentation, again based on company documents, that the company knew in 1981 (1) that pregnant women working at DuPont's Parkersburg, West Virginia plant had high levels of C-8 in their blood; (2) that animal studies suggested a link between C-8 and rare birth defects of the eye; (3) that C-8 was also present in fetal cord blood, and; (4) that two of seven pregnancies with measured C-8 in the cord blood resulted in seri ous birth defects of the face and eye. The company has yet to submit data on these birth defects to the EPA (EWG, 2004). On April 14, 2003, the EPA released a prel iminary PFOA risk assessment declaring PFOA was found very persistent in the environm ent, at very low levels existing both in the environment and in the blood of the general U.S. population, and causing developmental and other adverse effects in laboratory animals. However, significant data gaps were identified by the Agency, pr edominantly in the areas of exposure and exposure pathways (EPA, 2003). In order to id entify and generate additional information to strengthen the risk assessment, the EPA a nnounced it would initiate a public process in the hope that complete assessment will allo w the Agency to determine if additional regulatory measures are necessary to m itigate any potential risks (EPA, 2003). Evolution of the Teflon Crisis Whereas the EPA was still investigating the potential risk of PFOA without regulating it, on July 8, 2004, announcemen t came out that the EPA filed an administrative action against DuPont chargi ng DuPont for withholding evidence it found

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28 regarding the health and environmental c oncerns of PFOA since 1981 (supported by key information disclosed from the West Virgin ia lawsuit). The EPA alleged that Dupont detected PFOA in the blood of at least one fe male employees baby with birth defects and in public drinking water in its plants neighborhood communities but the company did not report these results According to federal environmental laws, it was estimated that the agency can impose over $300 million as th e total penalty against DuPont (Weise, 2004). The EPAs action in the United Stat es quickly spread overseas through international media. Unlike the relatively weak respons e in the United States and European countries, where Teflon has been on the market for decades, an unanticipated crisis with profound impact was triggered on another side of the globeChina. On July 9, an Internet news report released by the finance news section of SINA.com (Chinas biggest and most influential We b portal) was among the first to report the issue. Entitled U.S. EPA charges DuPont product contains health risks the news not only cited the EPAs administrative allegation and DuPonts denial, but also stated the EPA determined that PFOA, a synthetic chemical used to produce Teflon, may potenti ally affect human health. Immediately following this report, news coverage on the EPAs announcement surged on almost all major Chinese newspapers as well as on the prime time news shows at Chinese Central Television (CCTV), Ch inas government mouthpiece TV station. Many news reports questioned the safety of Te flon products by headlines such as Teflon product may cause cancer or DuPont nons tick cookware may harm human health without stating a definite conclusion. These news reports usually mentioned the EPAs

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29 allegations and actions, sometimes together with EWGs charges and scientific findings disclosed by other media sources proving the harmful effect of PFOA. Chinese experts opinions, or reactions from ot her stakeholders such as consumers, nonstick cookware manufacturers, and Chinese governmental agenci es, were also cited according to specific news focus. Media pressure forced the Chinese government to begin its own study on the safety of Teflon. On July 14, China State Administra tion of Quality Supervision and Quarantine (SAQSQ) announced that it would start its own investigation into th e health concern of Teflon-coated cookware. At this stage, scien tists or experts offere d diverging opinions, whereas SAQSQ had just initiated its invest igation without giving a decisive comment. However, the intensive news coverage al ready spurred a mass panic among Chinese consumers, which badly hit the Chinese nons tick cookware market. Concerns about the safety of non-stick cookware coated with DuPont Teflon material sparked consumer boycotts, reportedly forcing many department stores such as Sogo in Beijing and ParknShop in Guandong Province to pull all nonstick cookware from their shelves, as well as leaving many other stores still se lling Teflon cookware w ith sales plummeted (AFX European Focus, 2004). Safety concerns considerably affected Chinese Teflon cookware makers by forcing them to either cancel or delay thei r new products promotion plans. An official from Aishida, one of the largest c ookware producers and Teflon authorized manufacturers in China, disclosed that th e company suspended the promotion of its new non-stick frying pans due to consum ers increasing anxiety about nonstick cookware. But the official also insisted th e Teflon controversy did not seriously affect

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30 its nonstick cookware sales because 90 percen t of its production is exported to other countries (Chung, 2004). As for Zhejiang-based Supor Cookware Co mpany, one of the largest pressure cooker makers in China and another Tefl on authorized manufacturer, the company initially said it was hardly affected by the bad news because most of its products are shipped overseas. However, when the compa ny opened flat at 12.21 RMB per share on its trading debut on the Shenzhen Stock Ex change Market, which was far lower than brokers estimates of between 14 and 15 RMB, the firm attributed part of its poor performance to the negative influe nce from the Teflon scare (Chung, 2004). Heavy follow-up stories on the Teflon i ssue remained on the media spotlight lasting for several months. On October 13, CAIQ released the test result declaring that after extensive tests no PFOA residue had been discovered in the tested items. CAIQs test covered 28 different type s of Teflon-coated pans currently sold on the Chinese market, which were made by18 major manufact urers with a combined market share of more than 90 percent nationwide. Most news stories that reported the CAIQ test result acknowledged its the authority and credib ility. However, a few articles remained skeptical about some aspects of the test result, particularly with respect to the left concern about PFOAs environmental risk. The crisis settled in November of 2004 with the release of Chinese governments test result. However, considerable damage has been inflicted upon the Chinese Teflon market as well as DuPonts reputation. Some news stories reported a still low motivation among Chinese consumers in purchasing Tefloncoated products. According to an online opinion poll by SINA.com on the likelihood to con tinue to trust and use DuPont products,

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31 54 percent of the respondent s said no, 34 percent said it would depend on specific occasions, whereas only 12 percen t chose yes (SINA.com, 2004b). Research Questions and Hypotheses Based on the literature revi ew and the case background, th is paper looked at the following research questions: RQ1 : How would U.S. DuPont and DuPont Ch inas crisis response discourse be identified using Coombs (2004) three-posture typology throughout the life cycle of the Teflon crisis? RQ2 : What were the characteristics of the English language and Chinese language news coverage of the Teflon crisis? RQ3 : How would the Teflon crisis case be interpreted by propositions of the crossnational conflict shift ing theory? Do the propositions n eed to be revised or are new propositions needed to fu lly explain the phenomenon? In addition to the RQ3 as a general res earch question, three more hypotheses were proposed for quantitative testing: H1 : The Chinese news coverage will differ significantly from the U.S. news coverage of the Teflon crisis in story feat ures such as event location, story focus and primary problem attribution. H2 : News outlets are more likely to refer to sources from their own country of origin than sources from other country of origin. H3: The Chinese news coverage will differ significantly from the U.S. news coverage in narrative features such as sources cited and direct quotes used.

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32 CHAPTER 4 METHODOLOGY This thesis described, analyzed, and interp reted the recent DuPont Teflon crisis in China by examining DuPonts crisis respons e strategies as well as the English and Chinese language news coverage of the cris is. The credibility or fidelity of crisis communication could be evaluated through dete rmining the response quality in internal coherence (Hearit, 1999; Ihlen, 2002). Thus DuPonts crisis response strategies throughout the life cycle of the crisis were identified with Coombs (2004) three-posture typology. The internal consistency of DuPont s combined and changing strategies was then discussed. The Teflon crisis case was furt her investigated to illustrate, support, and expand the theory of crossnational conflict shifting (CNC S). Content analysis was employed upon the media coverage of the Tefl on crisis to test th ree hypotheses. The external corroboration, or the media reception, of DuPonts crisis response discourse was obtained through the media content analysis. Time-Series Analysis of DuPonts Crisis Response Strategies Online News Releases To answer the first research question rega rding DuPonts self-defense strategies, DuPonts online news releases were retrie ved from DuPonts websites in the United States and in China ( www.dupont.com.cn and www.dupont.com ) on December 2, 2004. A total of 16 non-duplicate news releases were found to involve the Teflon crisis including ten English language and six Chin ese language news releases. Among the ten news releases on U.S. DuPonts website in reaction to the Teflon controversy, six pieces

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33 were posted in 2003 and the rest four we re posted in 2004. DuPont Chinas website contained six Chinese language news releases posted in 2004 due to the Teflon crisis in China. Half of them were the exact tran slation versions of English language news releases initiated from U.S. DuPont. The rest three news releases contained messages at least partially originated from DuPont China A time-series identification analysis of crisis response strategies was employed upon DuPonts online news releases to anal yze DuPonts discourse during the Teflon crisis. After examining issues involved and reading through the news releases, Coombs (2004) typology, which has been specifically developed for public relations research indicating three apologia stances was found to be the best ch oice to use for this study. Thus Coombs typology, rather than Beno its (1995a) 14-subcategory typology, was applied as a framework to categorize and iden tify DuPonts crisis response strategies. Therefore the operationa lization of crisis response stra tegies in this study was based on definitions provided in Coombs typology. Deny posture contains strategies of clarification (denying the cris is happened and reinforcing the denial by explanations proving otherwise), attack (attacking accusers), and shifting blame (shifting the blame to others). Diminish posture includes deny intent/violati on (claiming lack of information or control), minimizing (downplaying the crisis da mage or threat), comparison (claiming not as bad as other similar crisis), big picture (placing the crisis in a larger and more favorable context), and misrepresentation (claim ing not as bad as what others make it out to be). Repair posture, on the other hand, cons ists of strate gies including suffering (claiming itself among the victims of the cr isis), bolstering (stressing the positive characters and behaviors), pr aising others (praising its st akeholders to win support),

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34 compensation (offering compensation to stak eholders), corrective action (promising actions to prevent the crisis from future o ccurring), and apology (accepting responsibility and asking stakeholders for forgiveness). Telephone Interview In addition, to understand the decision-mak ing process of DuPont Chinas crisis response strategies, information was gather ed by a 50-minute telephone interview with DuPont Chinas public affairs manager on October 27, 2004. According to the interviewees request, the interview was not ta ped but detailed notes we re taken to record the interview content in Chinese and later translated into Eng lish by the author to illustrate DuPont Chinas crisis management structure and strategies. Quotes were drawn from the interview transcript to explain Du Ponts response strategi es according to the researchers interpretation. Quantitative Content Analys is of the Media Coverage To answer the second and third research questions and test the three hypotheses, quantitative content analysis was conducted on the media coverage of the Teflon crisis generated by China, the United States, and other countries. Both English and Chinese language news were included in the news sa mple. Chinese language news stories were collected from the archival news collec tion featuring the Tefl on issue on SINA.com. English language news stories, on the othe r hand, were collected from the electronic database LexisNexis. A total of 211 news articles including English language and Chinese language news comprised the combin ed news sample. The unit of analysis was the individual full article as each article was coded with a standard coding sheet.

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35 Time Span The analyzed time period was a five-month period from July 1 to November 31, 2004. This time span was chosen because the Teflon crisis essentially went through the entire crisis phases during this period. July 1 was defined as the starting point of the timeline because the EPAs legal action agai nst DuPont on July 8 was the triggering event of the crisis. November 31 was chosen as the end point for the news analysis because after China's State Administration of Quality Supervision and Quarantine (SAQSQ) announced the agencys test result s on October 13, declaring no PFOA residue was found in Teflon-coated cookware sold on th e Chinese market, the media coverage of DuPont Teflon issue gradually subsided in November. Sample Profile English language news English language news stories were co llected through the Le xisNexis database using terms of DuPont and T eflon with the headline, le ad paragraph(s) parameter in World News and General News (in the major newspapers category) in the abovementioned time frame. Articles with duplicated content were excluded as well as articles with less than 100 words considering too litt le information for coding. After preliminary screening 55 English language news articles were yielded. As shown in Table 4-1, 36 articles (65 percent) out of 55 English language news stories are newspapers stories, 15 articles (27 percent) were distributed by news agencies such as Chinas Xinhua News Agency and Agence France Presse, while the rest are either newswire or magazine stories. News outlets from the United States, Europe, and China contributed 20 (36 percent), 16 (29 percent), and 11 (20 percent) stories,

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36 respectively. The rest of the st ories were initiated from Canada (5 stories) or other AsiaPacific countries (3 stories). Chinese language news Under the defined time period, news covera ge in Chinese language was gathered through SINA.coms archival news on the Teflon crisis. SINA.com was chosen to identify Chinese articles because it is China s largest and most frequently visited Web news portal, with 101.2 million registered users worldwide (SINA.com, 2004a). News reports that did not focus on DuPont Teflon products were ex cluded, so were transcripts of DuPonts crisis management events. Th e archived news after screening yielded 156 articles, including news st ories and commentaries published by prominent Chinese newspapers (national and regional) magazines, and news sites. Table 4-1. Sample profile of English la nguage news and Chinese language news News Language* English Language Chinese Language Category and option Frequency Per centage Frequency Percentage News Source Type Newspaper 36 65% 135 87% Online 25 16% News Agency 15 27% Newswire 3 5% Magazine 1 2% 1 1% Press Country Origin China-Hong Kong 11 20% 155 99% USA 20 36% 1 1% Europe 16 29% Asia-pacific 3 5% Canada 5 9% Number of English language news (NEL) =55; Number of Chinese language news (NCL) =156 Among the 156 Chinese news stories, 155 st ories were originated from Chinese news outlets. The only excepti on was a news-abstract of USA Today s July 8 story on

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37 EPAs allegation against DuPont and the estim ated fine, which was from the U.S. news source. The majority of stories (130 st ories) were published by major Chinese newspapers, while 25 stories were prepared by influential online sources such as SINA.com, Xinhua Web and China News Web. In addition, there was also one magazine story in the sample (see Table 4-1). Coding Sheet The coding sheet was designed to facilitate the content analysis of news stories covering the Teflon crisis. The researcher firs t read through twenty articles from the news sample (ten English language news and te n Chinese language news) dated throughout the time span of the whole crisis phases to obtain some degree of familiarity of typical media patterns. Based on the research ers experience, options were developed for each variable or category. Several tests usi ng randomly selected news articles were conducted to expand and revise these options until options were matured. Then these variables and their corresponding options were included into the quantitative coding sheet. The coding sheet was used in the pretest and finalized as required inter-coder reliability was achieved. Pretest and Inter-coder Reliability To test the inter-coder reliability of the coding sheet, ten percent of the news stories were randomly selected from the news sample and coded by the author and another graduate student. They coded the small sa mple of articles independently following the coding sheets guidelines. The inconsistency of the coding decisions were then assessed and discussed between the two coders. The inter-coder reliability coefficient (using Holstis formula, 1969) was calculated to be 87 percent. After taking off two variables that led to the main disagreement between the two coders from the coding sheet, the

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38 inter-coder reliability was improved to 92 per cent, which confirms a relatively high level of internal validity of the final research instrument. Coding Category and Option The story features of the news articl es were examined through coding event location (United States, China, both, or none of the above), main issue focus, and primary and secondary attributions of Teflon problems. Each news ar ticle was coded as primarily focusing on the EPAs accusation, DuPonts discourse or action, Teflon cookware makers discourse or action, Chinese regul ation agencies discourse or reaction, consumer reaction or market impact, U.S. le gal suit, Chinese legal suit, activist groups discourse or action, or others. Then the primar y and secondary attributions of the nature of Teflon-related problems were coded as Federal reporting rules dispute, PFOA/C8-related human health or environmental risk, Te flon cookware health risk, media problem, regulation concerns, business ethics concerns crisis management problems, or none of the above or not identifiable. The narrative features of the news articl es were studied by coding the number of publics, sources and direct quotes and the se lection of sources and direct quotes. Two nominal variable sets (i.e., for no and for yes) were used to code a series of players cited as sources and direct quotes, including DuPont U.S. regulation agencies, Chinese regulation agencies, consumers, i ndependent scientists/experts, financial analysts, Teflon cookware makers, activis t groups, DuPont employees, DuPont neighborhood community/residents, other media, other chemical companies, or other sources. DuPonts crisis discourse cited in the news article was coded as being employing the strategies of Clarification, Attack, Sh ifting blame, Deny inte nt/violation, Minimizing,

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39 Comparison, Big picture, Misr epresentation, Suffering, Bo lstering, Praising others, Compensation, Corrective action, and Apology, based on the definitions in Coombs (2004) typology. To measure the media presen tation of opposing argum ents, inclusion of scientific evidence or opinion, either supportive or refutatory to Teflon-related risk, and whether the risk was named as controversia l, waere also coded. The coding sheet also included an identification number, language in which the story was written, month and date of publication for each news story, news source type, and news source origin of country. Data Analysis Data collected were then content analyzed using SPSS 10.0 for Windows. Frequencies and descriptive statistics we re run to study the sample composition and variable characteristics. Independent-samples t-tests, Analyses of Variance (ANOVA), cross-tabulations, and Pearson product moment correlation were used to further test the relationships between studied variables.

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40 CHAPTER 5 FINDINGS Research Question 1 How would U.S. DuPont and DuPont Chi nas crisis response discourse be identified using Coombs (2004) three-posture typology throughout the life cycle of the Teflon crisis? Initial Response to EWG allegations in 2003 The Environmental Working Groups (EWG ) harsh criticism including its PFC review report PFCs: Global Contaminants, toge ther with its EPA petition against DuPont received increasing media attention. In re sponse to EWGs allegation that PFOA and Teflon products imposed harmful effect to human health, particularly to the health of those child-bearing aged wome n and young girls, DuPont poste d two news releases on its U.S. website to counter the charges. The March 31 news release basically employed Coombs clarification and attack response strategies in a refutatory manner (see Table 5-1). First, DuPont insisted that PFOA has been wrongfully represented as a he alth risk when, in fact, it has been used safely for more than 50 years with no known adverse effects to human health. According to DuPont, this view point wa s supported by extensive scientific data, including worker surveillance data, peer-reviewed toxicology and epidemiology studies, and expert panel reports while no evid ence or data demonstrating the opposite. As Benoit (2004) suggests, the accused or ganization could mitigate the damage to its reputation by undermining the credibility of the source of allegations. In accordance

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41 with this strategy, DuPont att acked the credibility of EWGs allegation by declaring that the EPA documents EWG quoted were based on an internal deliber ative draft that should not be cited or quoted without full EPA review. DuPont also insisted the evidence presented by EWG was unreliabl e considering the newly gene rated data, and that EWGs conclusion was a misinterpretat ion of data. In addition, DuPont mentioned the companys positive working relationship with the EPA in an effort for better knowledge of PFOA, which could be regarded as a minor bolster ing strategy to strengthen DuPonts positive image. Whereas the first news release slightly mentioned the safety of Teflon-branded cookware, the following April 8 news rele ase was specifically designed to clear the names of the companys Teflon and Stainmaster brands. This time DuPont focused on bolstering strategy and clar ification strategy without mentioning EWGs message. DuPont stressed its commitment to con tinuously evaluating the safety of its products and processes...as the global leader in fluorine chemistr y and continuing to develop a comprehensive understanding of th e distribution of PFOA in its products and in the environment. Meanwhile, DuPont asse rted that Teflon-branded cookware does not contain PFOA and other industrial products onl y contain trace or nondetectable levels of PFOA. As shown in Table 5-1, these interp retations could be identified as bolstering and clarification stra tegy, respectively. In addition, by stating th e essential function of PFOA in producing highperformance fluoropolymers resins and finishes, DuPont used the big picture strategy to remind the audience the higher value PFOA brings to human beings. Coombs big picture, or Benoits transcendence strate gy, if successfully employed, could place an

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42 organizations allegedly wrongful act in a more favorable context by suggesting a new frame of reference to justify the accused behavior (Benoit, 2004). Table 5-1. Crisis response stra tegies employed by U.S. DuPo nt before the Teflon crisis shifted to China Response Timeline Examples of Response Discourse Strategies (Posture) Response to EWGs allegations (March-April 2003, USA) PFOA has been wrongfully represented as a health risk; PFOA has been safely used by DuPont for more than 50 years; No evidence demonstrates adverse human health effect; Teflon cookware does not contain PFOA. Clarification (Deny) EWGs claim is based on "internal deliberate draft" that should not be cited; EWG's risk calculation is based on a single data point; EWGs conclusion is misinterpretation of data. Attack (Deny) Committed to continuously evaluating the safety of products and process; Extensive scientific research and testing supports the safety of PFOA; Actively works with EPA in research on PFOA and its end-use consumer products. Bolstering (Repair) Important societal benefits that society gains from flouoropolymers. Big picture (Diminish) Response to EPAs Preliminary Risk Assessment (April-June 2003, USA) No evidence indicates adverse human health effects related to low levels of exposure to PFOA; Teflon does not contain PFOA; Cookware made with Teflon is safe for everyday consumer and commercial use; Use FDA-approved methodologies, PFOA has not been detected in Teflon cookware. Clarification with reserved wording (Denial) Share the EPA's desire to safeguard human health and the environment; Voluntarily committed to supporting EPAs research on PFOA. Bolstering (Repair) Some statements in media coverage following EPA's April announcement by EPA calling for an investigation of PFOA have been misleading and inaccurate. Attack (Deny)

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43 Response to EPA Preliminary Risk Assessment in 2003 On U.S. DuPonts website, four news re leases were posted from April through June in 2003 in reaction to the EPAs announcemen t, combining response strategies of clarification, bolstering, and at tack (see Table 5-1). While reit erating the safety of Tefloncoated cookware and supporting the EPAs current position on unregulating PFOA, DuPont slightly changed its wording regard ing PFOA in its clarif ication strategy. The company claimed no evidence was found indica ting that adverse human health effects were related to low levels of exposure to PFOA. Besides, DuPont continued to highlight its commitment to product safety and environmental protection and sharing the EPA s mission to ensure human health and the environment. DuPont reaffirmed its suppor t for the EPAs plans to conduct a sciencebased risk assessment for PFOA. The company expected such assessment would lead to credible and reasonable regulation that assure s public health and safety while allowing the continued use of PFOA. Such discourse continued to reflect DuPonts bolstering strategy. In addition to clarifying some mislead ing and inaccurate statements in some media coverage, DuPont provided Web links to its fact sheets and FAQs regarding the safety of PFOA, Teflon-coated cookware and related consumer products. DuPont blamed those accusers for misinformation a nd inaccurate interpretations. Meanwhile, it used big picture strategy by arguing that t hose accusers were i gnoring the significant societal benefits PFOA enabled. Response to EPA Administrative Allegation in 2004 U.S. DuPont posted its response news rele ase on its website the same day as the EPA announced its administrative allegati on on July 8, 2004. DuPont replied that it

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44 would file a formal denial in 30 days to th e EPA complaint. DuPont denied any violation of statutory reporting requireme nt and asserted no legal basis for the EPAs allegation. Instead of giving more details of counter-argum ent or refuting evidence, the news release emphasized the EPAs position on unregulati ng PFOA in case consumers or investors might be shaken by the announcement. Delayed Initial Response by DuPont China in July In contrast to the Chinese medias imme diate reporting about the EPAs action on July 9, DuPont China did not post its respons e news releasethe translation of U.S. DuPonts July 8 news release until July 12 (after a weeke nds break). The time delay in releasing its headquarters announcements, as quoted from the interview with DuPont Chinas public affairs manager, was not unusual: As a matter of fact, for news releases fr om U.S. DuPont, we usually would have a time delay of a few days. Because we have a routine internal process to go through each release, to first translate the English ve rsion to Chinese, and then confer to the legal department for facts checking. Als o, for the communication purpose, we have to make sure in the final version we use layman terms but without mistaken technical interpretation. So the whole proce ss just takes time. (Telephone interview, October 27, 2004) DuPont Chinas explanation of its late response may sound reasonable. However, the damaging effect of such delay could be si gnificant in a crisis situation. As DuPont Chinas public affairs manager admitted, when they unexpectedly found that the story was disclosed by many Chinese media in differ ent versions ahead of them, particularly that some of the coverage was greatly unf avorable; the negative media impact was too enormous to reverse. Still, they chose to post the initial release on July 12 on DuPont Chinas website before deciding on the next step of action.

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45 Late July Response to Escalated Teflon Scare News coverage on Teflon cookwares poten tial human health harmful effects escalated, while DuPont Chinas executiv es and public affairs people were still deliberating on their crisis management plan. Despite the slow reaction in the early stage of the Teflon crisis, DuPont recognized the se riousness of the issue and sent out a crisis team comprised of senior DuPont executiv es from the United States, Hong Kong and Shanghai to Beijing to determine the crisis re sponse strategies, attend news conferences, and meet with officials from the Chinese regulation agencies. According to the interview with DuPont Chinas public affairs manager, they believed that the crisis was caused by th e Chinese medias misleading reports and Chinese peoples distrust attitude toward the safety of consumer products in general: Because this incident was caused by the misinterpretation of the information concerning Teflon cookwares safe ty, we basically want to cl arify the fact so as to remove the misunderstanding and relieve consumers worries. We had pretty good relationship with repor ters in the past. But because of the volatility of the reporters, some reporters covering the issue were new-comers who were not familiar with DuPont as well as science reporting. And they dont use cross reference. Thats part of the reas on some reports, especially at the beginning stage of the incident, misinterpreted the original news from the U.S. Many reporters didnt recognize the diffe rence between a processing aid and a finishing product and PFOA here is only a pr ocessing aid which doesnt exist in the Teflon coating. And they missed the point that U.S. has different legal system from China and that EPAs action was purely an ad ministrative charge in stead of a safety concern. Generally speaking, Chinese consumers right now have been easy to get agitated by negative media reports, especially when it comes to consumer product safety. Frequent media exposure of bad product quality and safety incidents, and of course, the imported milk powder scare due to mad cow disease, leaves people subject to doubt and mistrust with busin ess. Instead, they tend to trust popular media although these media could make mistake in the reporting and send the wrong message. (Telephone interview, October 27, 2004)

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46 Based on these observations, DuPont China determined that their basic message was to clarify the misinterpreted facts and r eassure general publics the safety of Teflonbranded products. They implemented a se ries of recovery actions to improve relationships with key stakeholders, with me dia in particular. The ultimate goal was to ease public concerns and seek restoration in public confidence and company reputation. These actions included active interactions with reporters, hol ding frequent news conferences in China, inviting Chinese repor ters to attend news conferences held in DuPont headquarters in the United States, and cooperating with the Chinese regulation agenciesState Administration of Quality Supervision and Quarantine (SAQSQ) and Chinese Academy of Inspection and Quarantine (CAIQ), among others. In particular, DuPont China employed the tool of online medium in its crisis management efforts. DuPont China sent it s Vice President together with its fluoroproducts technical manager to join an online ch at tour as an opportuni ty to come face-toface with consumers. This chat tour was moderated by a facilitator from SINA.coms chat room. This event was organized consid ering the increasing popularity and influence of SINA.coms chat room among Chinese netizen s. The chat tour created an easy, close and interactive atmosphere that allowed DuP ont executives to dire ctly answer a broad range of questions from common consumers perspective. Moreover, it succeeded in generating positive news coverage for DuPont in several Chinese newspapers. Later, DuPont China authorized SINA.com as a prior portal for real-time corporate news releasing and a platform to post comple te transcripts of their news conferences. This action, according to the DuPont public affa irs manager, was initiated in the hope that they could make real-time releases direc tly to consumers without going through other

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47 traditional media channel where reporters c ould somehow skew some of our original intentions. Interview with DuPont Chinas public affairs manager illustrated its guiding principle of active, open, and empathy in crisis communication and relationship building: To handle the Teflon accident, weve emphasized an active manner and an honest attitude throughout the management process. Instead of a cold control attitude, we took initiative s to communicate with various media, such as print, broadcasting and the Internet media, a nd other publics including government and consumers. But we understand these journalists difficultie s. They have their deadlines to meet. We understand reporters and consumers co ncern about the Teflon issue because it involves everyones safety and daily life. We understand that because we ourselves would have worries and concerns if we ar e not informed. So when we are working with the media, we respect their autono my, we make sure we are friendly and candid and give them information they need and then leave it to their decision in their coverage rather than trying to swing their opinion. DuPont has developed and maintained gr eat working relationships with these Teflon cookware manufactures. During the whole incident, theyve been very supportive, and they have confidence on DuPont and the Teflon brand. (Telephone interview, October 27, 2004) DuPonts active crisis management ef forts had received a certain degree of positive effects in media coverage. For example, many news reports by the Chinese media, especially after July 20, covered Du Ponts crisis management events and its active effort in clarifying facts and comm unicating with its publics. Many newspapers gave more space or favorable coverage to DuPonts positions and messages in their follow-up stories of the Teflon crisis. DuPont China posted one news release on its website on July 12, which was the exact translation of DuPont U.S.s July 8 news release. Besides, DuPont China Vice Presidents July 15 chat tour with SINA.co m, DuPont U.S. CEOs July 19 interview

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48 with China Daily DuPont China CEOs July 21 Beijing news conference, and U.S. DuPont spokespersons July 26 interview with China Newsweek were also released by the media in the form of interview transc ripts. Analysis of the above discourse illustrated that in addition to providing facts to respond to specific technical questions, the company basically used the strategies of clarification and comparison, sticking to the initial message held by U.S. DuPont (see Table 5-2). Table 5-2. Crisis response stra tegies employed by DuPont af ter the conflict shifted to China Response Timeline Examples of Response Discourse Strategies (Posture) July response to EPAs Administrative Allegation (July 2004, USA & China) Fully complied with EPAs reporting requirements (USA & China). Clarification (Deny) Not about the safety of our products, it is about administrative reporting (USA & China). Clarification/ Comparison (Diminish) August response to EPA's Allegation and Chinese Media Allegation (2004, USA &China) Fully and promptly reporte d to EPA all appropriate information regarding PFOA (USA & China). Clarification (Denial) Has been and will continue to provide industry leadership as part of EPA's investigation (USA & China); Has developed and implemented both manufacturing technology and emissions control technology in its plants that have reduced PFOA emissions by as much as 99 percent (USA & China); Reducing PFOA emission is guided by DuPonts strategic commitment to sustainable development which advocates the zero release goal in its manufacturing (China). Bolstering (Repair) Some Chinese media misinterpreted DuPonts effort in reducing PFOA emission as related to PFOA health risk, which was untrue and misleading (China). Attack (Deny) Media misinterpretation led to mass panic (China) Shift blame (Deny)

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49 Table 5-2. Continued Response Timeline Examples of Response Discourse Strategies (Posture) September response to West Virginia law suit settlement (September 2004, USA & China) Pleased to reach an agr eement that places the two parties combined priorities where they belong on the community and not on lengthy and contentious legal proceeding (USA & China). Bolstering (Repair) No association between the lawsuit settlement and admission of liability on DuPont's part (USA & China) Clarification/ Comparison (Diminish) Pay $102.6 million to the residents and their lawyer in cash payments and expenditures (USA & China). Compensation (Repair) Offer C-8 water treatment facilities for area communities (USA & China) ; Create an expert panel to conduct a community study to assist it in evaluating whether there is a probable link between C-8 exposure and any human disease (USA & China) Corrective Action (Repair) October response to the release of CA IO test results (October 2004, China) CAIQ is the national authoritative testing institute; hope the result could help restore consumers confidence in nonstick cookware (China). Praising others (Diminish) August Response to Chinese Media Allegation However, skepticism about the safety of Teflon products lingered on the Chinese market and so did media reports challenging DuPonts explanation. For example, when DuPont filed its formal response on Augus t 12 to the three accounts in the EPA complaints, a few reports interpreted DuPonts promise to reduce 99 percent of its PFOA emission in its manufacturing plants in the United States as acknowledging the harmful effects of PFOA. This prompted DuPont on August 18 to hold a news conference again and post the first news release initiated fr om its Beijing office on its website. DuPont focused on clarification, attack, shifting blame, and bolstering strategies by reiterating its

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50 previous positions to clarif y the facts and disputing those negative associations interpreted in some media reports (see Ta ble 5-2). DuPont then accused the Chinese media for inaccurately interpreting DuPonts commitment to sustainable development and ultimate goal in zero discharge. September Response to U. S. Lawsuit Settlement On September 9, DuPont agreed to settl e the 2001 class-action lawsuit filed by West Virginia residents accusing the compa ny of contaminating drinking water supplies with PFOA. DuPont would pay $102.6 million to the residents and their lawyer in cash payments and expenditures. In addition, the company could pay as much as $235 million for a medical monitoring program if th e EPA determines the link between PFOA exposure and human disease and birth defects. As part of the settlement, DuPont agreed to offer C-8 water treatment facilities fo r area communities and creation of an expert panel to conduct a community study to assist it in evaluating whether there is a probable link between C-8 exposure and any human di sease. These actions, to some extent, reflected compensation and corrective act ions strategies (see Table 5-2). Learning from previous lessons, when Du Pont settled the West Virginia classaction lawsuit on September 9, DuPont China pos ted the Chinese translation of its U.S. news release on DuPont Chinas website on the same day. This news release was attached with an announcement letter, which explai ned DuPonts decision and disputed any possible unfavorable interpretations of the co mpanys action (see Table 5-2). In DuPonts message, the company stressed the settlemen t was a result of placing the combined priorities they belongon the community and not on lengthy and contentious legal proceedings and not any admission of liability on DuPonts part. DuPont Chinas news release declared no association betw een DuPonts case settlement and the PFOA

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51 reporting dispute with the EPA or the safety of Teflon-branded cookware. Meanwhile, the news release threatened with legal actions against biased, inaccu rate or misleading speech by any individuals or organizations th at might damage DuP onts reputation and brand image. October Response to CAIQ Test Result The CAIQ test result released on Oct ober 13, to some extent, greatly relieved DuPont as well as Chinese Teflon cookware ma kers because the Teflon scare had already plunged 90 percent of their domestic sales in August and September (Business Daily Update, 2004). In the news release posted on its website on October 14, DuPont China welcomed the test result, praised CAIQ for its authority, and expresse d hopes that the test result would help restore consumer conf idence in Teflon cookware (see Table 5-2). According to DuPont Chinas public a ffairs manager, the Teflon crisis has relatively limited negative impact on their business operation and Teflon products global market. This is because over 90 percent of Teflon cookware is exported to other countries such as the United States, Europe, and Japan, where the markets have not been influenced considerably. However, they were deeply concerned about the incidents damage to DuPonts reputation and the loss of pub lic trust in Teflon products in China: Now test results from Chinese Academy of Inspection and Quarantine proved that Teflon products in the market are safe so that consumers doubt and worry would be relieved. And we can see that gradually the media picked up the stories less and less often. But we would still be working with these cookware companies for more market communication to restore the public confidence in Teflon products. (Telephone interview, October 27, 2004) Research Question 2 What were the characterist ics of the English language and Chinese language news coverage on the Teflon crisis?

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52 English Language News Story month and date As shown in Table 5-3, with respect to story date, 28 stories (51 percent) were picked up in July which accounted for about half of the total st ories. The maximum media interest in the Teflon case in July indicated the media pressure culminated at the beginning month of the Teflon crisis. August, September and October ran nine (16%), seven (13%) and ten (18%) stories each, revea ling the prolonging of the crisis for several months. Only one story was found published in November and directly focusing on the Teflon/PFOA topic, suggesting the subsidence of the crisis in November (see Figure 5-1). Table 5-3. Story month of English language news and Chinese language news News Language* English Language Chinese Language Category and option Frequency Per centage Frequency Percentage Story Month July 28 51% 103 66% August 9 16% 24 15% September 7 13% 6 4% October 10 18% 21 13% November 1 2% 2 1% *NEL=55, NCL=156 In terms of story frequency published on each single day, news stories peaked on July 9 with 12 stories, immediately after the EPA announcement of its administrative action and potential fine against DuPont The second hit was on September 10, the following day of DuPonts Virginia class-act ion lawsuit settlement, which accounted for five stories. Further, when the news sample was first categorized according to the news outlet's country origin and then compared, the freque ncy trends by story month slightly differed at different country sources (illustrated in Figure 5-2). Although st ories from China, the

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53 United States, and Europe all peaked in Ju ly, China and Europe had the second highest number of stories in October when Chines e regulation agencies released their Teflon cookware test results, in contra st to the United States second peak in September for the West Virginia legal suit settlement. The di vergent story frequency trends at different source locations suggested certain inherent di fference might exist in their news patterns. News frequency* by month*English news sample (55 articles)Date into MonthNovember October September August JulyPercent60 50 40 30 20 10 0 18 13 16 51 Figure 5-1. English language ne ws frequency by story month Story features In terms of event location, ove r half of the stories (56%, 31 stories) covered topics only related to the United States, while 36 percent of the sample covered events associated with both the United States and Ch ina. As the news stories were grouped with respect to their story focus, stories with the main focus on the EPAs action/discourse accounted for the most part at 29 percent (16 stories). Stories initiated from DuPonts action/discourse and U.S. legal suits presente d 22 percent (12 stories) and 16 percent (9

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54 stories), respectively. The rest of the storie s placed their main focus on Chinese regulation agencies action/discourse (6 st ories, 11%), consumer reaction/market impact (4 stories, 7%), Teflon cookware makers reaction (3 st ories, 6%), and others (see Table 5-4). Analyzed from the perspective of prim ary problem attribution, 34 percent (19 stories) of the sample attributed the Teflon cr isis to reporting rules dispute. This, to some extent, coincided with DuPonts message with regard to the comparison strategy. Because the examination of DuPonts response illust rated that the company seeks to frame the conflict as an issue of federal procedure disa greement rather than of PFOAs potential human health and environmental risk. News frequency* by monthat Different News Source Origins*English news sample (55 articles)Date into MonthNovember October September August JulyCount10 8 6 4 2 0 News Source Country China-Hong Kong USA Europe Asia-pacific Canada Figure 5-2. English language news frequency by story month at different country origins However, still 27 percent (15 stories) of the English language news sample ascribed the problem to PFOAs potential harmful huma n health and environmental effect and 24

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55 percent to the health risk of Teflon cookware. In addition, four articles mirrored DuPonts accusation that media misinterpretation was the primary cause to the Teflon scare. Table 5-4. Story Features of English la nguage news and Chinese language news News Language* English Language Chinese Language Category and option Frequency Per centage Frequency Percentage Event Location China 2 4% 58 37% USA 31 56% 7 4% Both 20 36% 89 57% Other 2 4% 2 1% Main Focus EPA accusation 16 29% 7 4% DuPont discourse/action 12 22% 40 26% Teflon cookware maker 3 5% 14 9% Chinese Reg 6 11% 31 20% Consumer/market reaction 4 7% 27 17% U.S. legal suits 9 16% 6 4% Chinese legal suits 0 0% 15 10% Activist group 1 2% 2 1% Others 4 7% 14 9% Primary Problem Attribution Reporting rules dispute 19 35% 14 9% PFOA/C8 risk 15 27% 26 17% Teflon cookware risk 13 24% 99 63% Media problem 4 7% 6 4% Regulation/policy concerns 1 2% 8 5% Business ethics concerns 3 5% 2 1% Crisis management problems 1 1% *NEL=55, NCL=156 In terms of secondary problem attributi on, results indicated th at PFOA-associated risk accounted for about half of the stories (51 percent, 28 stories). This suggested that those stories focusing on reporti ng rules dispute as the primary problem tended to choose PFOA risk as their minor attribution. It should be noted that 13 percent of the sample (7 stories) oriented the story from the perspec tive of business ethics concerns, where charges

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56 such as covering up evidence were used to suggest DuPonts unethical behavior in deliberately disguising unfavorable evidence. Narrative features The English language news sample averag ed 4.3 publics, 3.9 sources, and 2.4 direct quotes per news story. As shown in Table 55, the source most frequently cited was U.S. regulation agencies, as 95 percent (52 arti cles) of all stories used the EPA as an information source. DuPont source followed at 84 percent (46 stories), wherein 32 percent (15 stories) was labele d as DuPont China branch. Other sources that were used by over 30 percent of the stories included other media (40%), Chinese regulation agencies (33%), and activist groups (31%). Table 5-5. Selection of Sources in English language news and Chinese language news News Language* English Language Chinese Language Category and option Frequency Per centage Frequency Percentage Sources DuPont 46 84% 96 62% DuPont China 15 27% 62 40% U.S. Reg 52 95% 63 40% Consumers 39 25% Chinese Reg 18 33% 74 47% Scientists/experts 13 24% 51 33% Financial Analysts 2 4% 5 3% Teflon cookware maker 7 13% 51 33% Activist groups 17 31% 17 11% Communities 15 27% 13 8% DuPont employees 2 4% 8 5% Other media 22 40% 55 35% Other chem Company 7 13% 1 1% Other sources 16 29% 44 28% *NEL=55, NCL=156 In addition, community/residen ts and experts/scientists sources were presented by 27 percent and 24 percent of the stories. On the other hand, DuPont ranked first in the

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57 number of direct quotes cited with 1.1 quotes per article, followed by averaged 0.4 direct quotes from U.S. regulation agencies and 0.2 quotes from activist groups. Reception of DuPont response and presentation of arguments As shown in Table 5-1, DuPont interp reted the EPA action as reporting rules dispute rather than a result of EPAs con cern on PFOAs human health and environmental risk. This suggested both clar ification and comparison strategies as it clarified the fact from DuPonts perspective as well as reduced the offensiveness of the allegation against DuPont. For the consistent purpose of the codi ng analysis, the coders chose to code the message into the clarification strategy category in priority. Following this criterion, as the English language news storie s cited DuPonts discourse, 64 percent (35 articles) of the news chose quotes refl ecting clarification strategy. Another strategy commonly receiv ed by the media was bolstering strategy illustrated by 30 percent (16 articles) of the stories. Shifting blame and big picture equaled with12.7 percent (7 stories) each, fo llowed by praising others at 3.6 percent (2 stories). Both attack and compensation strate gies were suggested by only one story at 1.8 percent of the entire sample. In terms of presenting arguments from Pro-PFOA side and Anti-PFOA side, AntiPFOA side slightly won over. 84 percent of the stories contained claims supporting the safety of Teflon/PFOA while 20 percent prov ided concrete evid ence supporting this claim. In comparison, 95 percent of the sample presented refutatory statements while 53 percent offered scientific test results. When interpreting these tests, most stories (67%) didnt notify the inconclusiveness, or scientific uncertainty, of the available test results. Notedly, within the stories suggesting the limitation of current scientific findings, 72 percent were balanced at presen ting arguments from both sides.

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58 Correlation findings Correlation results were generated thr ough running Pearson product moment test. Correlations were found between article length and number of sources, article length and number of publics, as well as article length and number of direct quotes. As shown in Table 5-6, high correlations existed between article length and number of sources (r=.728, p<.000), and between article lengt h and number of direct quotes (r=0.829, p<0.000), while a moderate correlation was foun d between article le ngth and number of publics (r=0.679, p<.000). In addi tion, the longer the article the more DuPont direct quotes were cited in English langu age news (r=.573, p<.000, moderate). Table 5-6. Correlation test of article length by number of pub lics, sources, direct quotes, and DuPont direct quotes (English language news) Chinese Language News Story month and date In this Chinese language ne ws collection, 66 percent of the news articles (103 stories) appeared on the print media in July marking the crisis outset and climax. In August, the media interest dropped considerab ly and the sample yielded 24 stories (15

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59 percent). The press pressure further subdued w ith only six stories in September. However, the release of Teflon cookware test result by th e Chinese regulation agencies led to 21 (13 percent) stories, which somewhat revived the press interest and prolonged the press coverage of the Teflon topic. November ne ws on the Teflon topic only amounted to two stories, demonstrating the seemingly end of the Teflon crisis (see Table 5-3 and Figure 53). News freqency* by month*Chinese news sample (156 stories)Date into MonthNovember October September August JulyFrequency120 100 80 60 40 20 0 21 24 103 Figure 5-3. Chinese news frequency by story month Story features In the Chinese language news sample, 89 ar ticles pertained to both the U.S. and Chinese stakeholders which acc ounted for 57 percent of the entire sample. Besides, 58 stories (37 percent) only involve d China, while seven articles (4.5%) covered stories only related to the United States. Stories focusi ng on DuPonts discourse /action took the lead in main focus with 26 percent (40 articles ), followed by Chinese regulation agencies discourse/action at 20 percent (31 articles) and Consumer reaction/market impact at 17

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60 percent (27 stories). Chinese legal suits, Teflon cookware makers discourse/action, and the EPAs accusation presented 9.6 percent (15 stories), 9.0 percent (14 stories), and 4.5 percent (7 stories), respectively (see Table 5-4). Among 156 stories, 99 stories were recognized as to primarily attribute the Teflon crisis to the human health risk associated with Tefl on nonstick cookware, followed by human health and environmental risk presen ted by PFOA/C8 (26 stories, 16.7%). Only 9.0 percent of the sample (14 stories) focu sed on reporting rules dispute as the problem nature. This was in sharp contrast with the findings from the English news sample, wherein the majority of stories ascribed reporting rules disagreement as the primary nature. This distinction in media frames be tween the United States and China indicated, to some extent, both the cause and the effect of the change of crisis nature when the Teflon crisis shifted from the United States to China. It should be recognized that eight articles ascribed regulation/policy concerns as the primary nature of the Teflon scare. The targ et issues and narrative tone illustrated by these articles reflected the existence as well as boundary of mild me dia criticism in China on domestic regulation systems. Although th e freedom and influence of media over domestic public agenda was very restricte d, its sheer existence might seem promising compared to the past. Considering secondary attribution of probl em nature, PFOA-C8 risk occupied the first place at 32 percent with Teflon cookware risk ranked second at 15 percent. The rest included regulation concerns at 7.7 percent a nd business ethics con cerns at 7.1 percent. Narrative features The Chinese language news sample averag ed 4.4 publics, 3.4 sources and 1.5 direct quotes per article. DuPont s ource ranked first as the most frequently used source by the

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61 Chinese print media, when 96 stories ( 61.5%) cited DuPonts position (62 stories identified the specific DuPont source as the DuPont China branch). In contrast, 48 percent and 40 percent of the news stories referred to Ch inese regulation agencies and U.S. regulation agencies for their facts and opinions, respectively. Other media (35%), experts/scientists (33%), Teflon cookware make rs (33%), and consumers (25%) were also on the commonly cited source list, illuminating th eir key roles in the crisis evolution (see Table 5-5). In terms of number of direct quote, DuPont source topped again with an average 0.53 direct quote each article. Teflon cookware maker ranked second at 0.24, followed by experts/scientists and consumers at 0.13 each. Reception of DuPont response and presentation of arguments Similar to the English language news sa mple, the Chinese language news sample also yielded clarification stra tegy (85 articles, 54.5%) and bol stering strategy (81 stories) as the most discernable crisis response strategies employed by DuPont. Although a few articles also cited DuPont quot es that suggested strategies of shifting blame, attack, suffering, and praising others, th e low frequency of occurren ces (less than 5 percent) indicated relatively slim media reception. However, in the Chinese news, argument s supporting the safety of Teflon/PFOA almost tied with those in the refutatory posit ion in terms of occurr ing frequency, both in forms of evidence and simple statements. 70 percent of the articles cited claims in support of Teflon safety whereas 72 percen t cited refutatory opinions. Similarly, 26 percent articles contained s upportive evidence reflecting DuPonts stand as 21 percent presented evidence for the opposite side. Only 16 percent of the enti re sample described the PFOA tests in scientific uncertainty term s, thereof 9.0 percent framed the issue from both sides in a relatively balanced manner.

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62 Research Questions 3 How would the Teflon crisis case be in terpreted by proposit ions of the crossnational conflict shift ing theory? Do the propositions n eed to be revised or are new propositions needed to fu lly explain the phenomenon? DuPonts Teflon crisis in China was initiat ed from the U.S. EP As administrative action against DuPont in the United States. For the most part, in the United States, it involved concerns on PFOAs human health and environmental risk controversy. However, the controversy changed nature in China where it triggered a consumer product safety crisis in a lot greater scale and scope. The EPAs admini strative action, EWGs allegation against DuPont, and DuPonts actio ns, not only affected publics in the United States (its home country where it is headquartered), but also had an impact internationally because DuPonts products are developed, manufactured, and consumed around the world. The conflict in the United States shifte d internationally when the media reported the situation to publics in other country [proposition 9]. Molleda and Connolly-Ahern (2002, p. 4) sugge sted that this impact seems to be greater at the home country involved, whic h could be explained by the relevance and proximity of organization for the home publics. Although this may still hold true for the general situations, in this specific case, the c onflict resulted in a stronger impact in the host countryChina, where it tu rned into a consumer product crisis and raised heavy public pressure. Indeed, DuPonts Teflon cr isis in China symbolizes a category of reversed cross-nationa l conflict shifting (CNC S) phenomenon. As the Teflon crisis case illustrated, the conflict, which involves a TNC, shifts from a home country to a host country through international media; and result s in greater impact in the host country. The impact could potentially lead to reperc ussions in the corpor ations home country.

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63 Three hypotheses were tested by the combined sample of the English language and Chinese language news. Hypothesis 1 The Chinese news coverage will differ signi ficantly from the U.S. news coverage of the Teflon crisis in story fe atures such as event location, story focus and primary problem attribution. (Supported) Cross-tabulation results indicated U.S. and Chinese news coverage differed significantly in terms of event location ( 2 (3, N =166) =115.892, p <.000) (see Table 5-7 and Figure 5-4). U.S. media c overed significantly gr eater news topics related only to the United States, whereas Chinese news tended to cover Teflon stories a ssociated with both the United States and China. This is reasona ble because Chinese media usually cited the U.S. EPA or U.S. DuPonts information as the context of the Teflon concerns. Besides, followed-up U.S. news on the Teflon case had resulted in greater impact in China than vice versa. Table 5-7. Event location in the Chinese news and U.S. news coverage News Source Country of Origin* Chinese Press U.S. Press Category and option Frequency % in Chinese news Frequency % in U.S. news China 59 35% 1 5% USA 7 4% 19 90% Events Location Both 98 59% 1 5% *NCP=166; NUP=21 Significant difference was also found in the main focus ( 2 (8, N =187) =69.557, p <.000) and main problem attribution ( 2 (6, N =31) =49.956, p <.000) between stories originated from the Chinese and U.S. news me dia. As shown in Table 5-8, Chinese news stories adopted a greater vari ation in terms of main focus. In particular, DuPont

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64 discourse/action (26%), Chinese regulation ag encies discourse/acti on (20%), consumer reaction/market impact (17%), Teflon cookw are makers discourse/action (10%), and Chinese legal suits (9.0%) represented the mo st popular story focus in the Chinese news coverage. Events Coverage LocationChina & USA USA ChinaPercent100 80 60 40 20 0 News Source CountryChinese Media Source U.S. Media Source 5 90 5 59 36 Figure 5-4. Event location in the Ch inese and U.S. news coverage In contrast, the majority of U.S. news st ories chose to focus on either the EPAs action (33%) or legal suits in the United Stat es (39%) (see Table 5-8). In terms of primary problem attribution, a significantly higher pe rcentage of Chinese news stories (64%) attributed the Teflon crisis to Teflon cookwar es human health concern than U.S. stories did. It was found that U.S. media stories main ly referred to either federal reporting rules dispute (43%) or human health and the envi ronmental concerns raised upon PFOA (52%) as the problem origins. These trends were fu rther demonstrated in Figure 5-5 and Figure 5-6.

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65 Table 5-8. Main focus and primary problem a ttribution in the Chinese and U.S. news coverage News Source Country of Origin* Chinese Press U.S. Press Category and option Frequency Per centage Frequency Percentage Main Focus EPA accusation 6 4% 7 33% DuPont discourse/action 43 26% 2 10% Teflon cookware maker 17 10% Chinese Reg 34 20% Consumer/market reaction 29 17% U.S. legal suits 6 4% 8 38% Chinese legal suits 15 9% Activist group discourse 2 1% 1 5% Others 14 8% 3 14% Primary Problem Attribution Reporting rules dispute 14 8% 9 43% PFOA/C8 risk 27 16% 11 52% Teflon cookware risk 106 64% Media problem 7 4% Regulation/policy concerns 9 5% Business ethics concerns 2 1% 1 5% Crisis management problems 1 1% *NCP=166; NUP=21 Main FocusO t he r Activis t Gr oup Chinese Legal US Legal Co nsumerM ar k et I mp a Chi n e s e R eg u lat i on Teflon C ookwa r e Make DuPont Disco u rse-act EP A Acc u sat i onPercent50 40 30 20 10 0 News Source CountryChinese Media Source U.S. Media Source 14 5 38 10 33 8 9 4 17 20 10 26 4 Figure 5-5. Main focus in the Chinese and U.S. news coverage

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66 Primary Problem AttributionCrisis Management Pr B us in e s s Ethics C o n c Regulation Concern M e di a P ro b le m Teflon Cookware Risk PFO A -C 8 Ri sk Reporting RulesPercent70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 News Source CountryChinese Media Source U.S. Media Source 5 52 43 5 4 64 16 8 Figure 5-6. Primary problem attribution in the Chinese and U.S. news coverage Hypothesis 2 News outlets are more likely to refer to sources from their own country of origin than sources from other country of origin. (Supported) The origin of news media was crosstabulated with the type of sources with national characteristics, including DuPont China, Ch inese regulation agencies, and U.S. regulation agencies, between Chinese news and American news coverage. American news contained significantly less use of DuPont China source ( 2 (1, N =187) =14.154, p <.000), less use of Chinese regulation agencies source ( 2 (1, N =187) =15.048, p <.000), but more use of U.S. regulation agencies source ( 2 (1, N=187) =20.541, p <.000), than news from China did (see Table 5-9). Hypothesis 3 The Chinese news coverage will differ signi ficantly from the U.S. news coverage in narrative features such as sour ces cited and direct quotes used. (Partially supported)

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67 Independent-samples T-tests were run to explore the use pattern of sources and direct quotes by the Chinese and U.S. media. It was found the Chinese media used fewer sources as well as direct quotes than their U.S. counterparts (See Table 5-10 and Figure 57). Table 5-9. Use of sources with national charact er in the Chinese and U.S. news coverage News Source Country of Origin* Chinese Press U.S. Press Category and option Frequency % in Chin ese news Frequency % in U.S. news Source with national character DuPont China 70 42% 0 0% Chinese Reg 82 49% 1 5% U.S.Reg 71 43% 20 95% *NCP=166; NUP=21 Table 5-10. T-test for the number of sources and direct quotes used in the Chinese and U.S. news coverage An average of 3.43 sources and 1.53 quotes were used by the Chinese media, whereas averaged 4.19 sources and 3.52 quotes were cited by the U.S. news coverage. The T-test results indicated although no significant differen ce existed in the use of sources between Chinese and U.S. news at a medium effect size (t (187) =-1.54, p=.125 (two tailed), d=-.35), Chinese media cited signi ficantly fewer direct quotes than the U.S.

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68 media at a large effect size (t (187) =-4.21, p<.000 (two tailed), d=-.90). This result may indicate that reporters generally have bette r source access in the United States than in China. However, this may also due to the f act that some inherent differences exist in reporting routines and narrative styles between Chinese and U.S. newsrooms. Besides sources with clear national charac teristics discussed in Hypothesis 2, other differences in terms of preferred sources were found between news media originated from China and those from the United States (see Table 5-11, Fi gure 5-8 and Figure 5-9 for selection of sources by Chinese and U.S. media). News Source Country of OriginU.S. Media Source China Media SourceMean4.5 4.0 3.5 3.0 2.5 2.0 1.5 1.0 Number of Sources Number of Direct Quo tes 3.5 1.5 4.2 3.4 Figure 5-7. Mean of number of sources and di rect quotes in the Chinese and U.S. news coverage Cross-tabulation of selection of individua l source by news media origin suggested that the Chinese media used si gnificantly less DuPont source, 2 (1, N =187) =4.373, p =.037, activist groups source, 2 (1, N =187) =31.296, p <.000, and community/residents source, 2 (1, N =187) =33.072, p <.000. On the other hand, the Chinese media cited significantly greater consumers source, 2 (1, N =187) =6.234, p =.013, Teflon cookware makers source, 2 (1, N =187) =10.373, p =.001, and other media source, 2 (1, N =187) =8,862, p =.003.

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69 Table 5-11. Selection of sources in th e Chinese and U.S. news coverage News Source Country of Origin* Chinese Press U.S. Press Category and option Frequency Per centage Frequency Percentage Sources DuPont 104 63% 18 86% DuPont China 70 42% U.S. Reg 71 43% 20 95% Consumers 39 23% Chinese Reg 82 49% 1 5% Scientists/experts 53 32% 8 38% Financial Analysts 5 3% 1 5% Teflon cookware makers 57 34% Activist groups 17 10% 12 57% Communities/residents 13 8% 11 52% DuPont employees 9 5% 1 5% Other media 62 37% 1 5% Other chem Company 1 1% 5 24% Other sources 48 29% 8 38% *NCP=166, NUP=21 Other So u rces O t her chem i c a l c o Oth e r Media D uP ont E m p l oyees C om m uni t ies Activist Groups Tef C oo k wa r e Mak e F ina ncial A n aly s ts Sc i entists-Exp e rts C h inese Reg C on su mers U S Reg D uP ont China D uP o nt SourcePercent100 90 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 29 37 5 8 10 34 32 49 23 43 42 63 Figure 5-8. Selection of sources in the Chinese news coverage

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70 O th er S ource s O th er c he m ica l C o Othe r M e d ia DuPont Empl o ye e s Commu n ities Activist G r o ups Tef C o okwar e M a ker Fi n a n cia l A n a lys ts S cie n ti sts E xperts Chin e s e R e g Co n sum e r s U S Reg DuPont China DuPo n t Sour c ePercent100 80 60 40 20 0 38 24 52 57 38 95 86 Figure 5-9. Selection of sources in the U.S. news coverage The significant difference in source sele ction may indicate distinct news focus adopted by the Chinese and U.S. news coverage as well as the innate difference of key stakeholders involved in the c onflict between the two countries. In addition to testing the three hypotheses discussed above, ANOVA test was used to examine the Chinese language news sample in terms of different event locations. Table 5-12 suggests at the p .05 level, news covering both the United States and China used significantly more sources (averaged 3.93) th an those covering only China (averaged 2.71) and the United States (averaged 2.0) (df=2/151, f =7.644, p =.001). Similarly, news covering the two country locat ions involved significantly more publics (averaged 5.01) than those covering only Ch ina (averaged 3.74) and the United States (averaged 1.57) (df=2/151, f =21.590, p <.000).

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71 Such a relationship also applied to the num ber of direct quotes cited in the news. Stories covering the two country locations, China, and the Unit ed States used an average of 2.31, 0.76 and 0.14 direct quot es, respectively (df=2/151, f =11.018, p <.000). Table 5-12. One-way ANOVA for number of pub lics, number of sources, and number of direct quotes grouped by event locati on in the Chinese news coverage Based on the finding above, an additiona l hypothesis was proposed as below: Hypothesis 4 News covering multiple countries as event locations will involve more publics and use more sources and direct quotes t han news covering one single country. (Supported) This hypothesis was supporte d by ANOVA test at the p .05 level. In the combined news sample, news covering both the United States and China cont ained significantly more publics (df=2/204, f =23.939, p <.000), more sources (df=2/204, f =10.300, p <.000) and more direct quotes (df=2/204, f =11.216, p <.000) than those covering only China or the United States (see Table 5-13). These rela tionships were further demonstrated by the mean plots of number of publics, number of sources, and number of direct quotes by event location in Figure 5-10, Figure 5-11, and Figure 5-12.

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72 Table 5-13. One-way ANOVA for number of pub lics, number of sources, and number of direct quotes grouped by event location in the combined news sample Events Coverage LocationBoth USA ChinaMean of Number of Publics5.5 5.0 4.5 4.0 3.5 3.0 5.1 3.3 3.7 Figure 5-10. Mean plot of numb er of publics by event location Events Coverage LocationBoth USA ChinaMean of Number of Sources4.5 4.0 3.5 3.0 2.5 4.1 3.2 2.7 Figure 5-11. Mean plot of numb er of sources by event location

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73 Events Coverage LocationBoth USA ChinaMean of Number of Direct Quotes2.5 2.0 1.5 1.0 .5 2.2 2.1 .7 Figure 5-12. Mean plot of number of direct quotes by event location

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74 CHAPTER 6 DISCUSSION Summary of the Teflon Case This descriptive and interpretive study ex amined the DuPont Teflon crisis evolution in China in terms of the interaction betw een DuPonts crisis response actions and strategies and the globa l media coverage. Before turning into a crisis, DuPonts Teflon products emerged as an issue in the late 1990s and were challenged by the EPAs investigation into PFOA, the environmen tal group EWGs criticism, and the West Virginia class-action lawsuit against DuPont. U.S. DuPont was found denying the charges consistently, which was acceptable in a situation as no conclusive evidence had been reached demonstrating the company should a ssume the responsibility or be blamed. However, as the news of the EPAs administ rative action against Du Pont in July of 2004 was transmitted through interna tional media, the initial conf lict in the United States shifted to China by heavy Chinese media cove rage, trigging a consumer product crisis in a greater scale. The study found DuPont China unprepared for the crisis in terms of early signal detection and prompt initial response. The escalated media coverage before DuPont China organized efficient crisis management actions spurred mass panic and consumer boycotts, which badly hit the Chinese Te flon cookware market. Further analysis suggested that DuPont China subsequently im plemented a series of crisis management actions and strategies in acco rdance with U.S. DuPonts pos itions, which were partially corroborated by the Chinese media coverage However, the damage to DuPonts

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75 reputation and the loss of consumer confidence due to its crisis response lapses in the early stage could be hard to measure or to recover from in the short term. Summary of DuPonts Crisis Response Strategies Apologia Objective and Combined Response Strategies Based on the information provided by the analysis of news releases and the interview with DuPonts public affairs manager, the companys decision-making process and its response strategies were found reflecting Hearits (1994) first organizational apologia objective. DuPont offered a competing narrative with respect to the unfavorable perceptions held by its st akeholders to redefine the alleged acts to less offensiveness. To reach this objec tive, the company employed a strategy mix mainly combining clarification, comparis on, and bolstering strategies, supplemented by strategies of attac k, shift blame, and praising others based on Coombs (2004) crisis response typology. By clarification and comparison, DuPont de nied all the charges and stressed the EPAs action was due to some reporting rule s dispute rather th an concerns about PFOAs human health and environmental ri sk, or any safety concern about Teflon products (see Table 5-2). Apart from these, as DuPont settled the West Virginia classaction lawsuit and offered monetary comp ensation and water treatment facilities, DuPont interpreted its decision as a re sult of benign purpose for the good of the neighboring community and not admission of apology, compensation, or corrective action. As shown in Table 5-2, bolstering strategy was another commonly employed strategy which appeared side-by-side with clarification strategy. DuPont applied bolstering to improve the companys positive image by highlighting its reputation of a socially responsible corporate citizen.

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76 Supplementary strategies employed by DuPont included attack, shift blame and praising others (see Table 5-2). DuPont ini tially attacked the EWG for misinterpreting the EPAs risk assessment data about PFOA. As the conflict shifted to China with heavy Chinese media coverage, DuPont subsequently attacked the local media for misinformation. The company attributed the cau se of the Teflon scare in China to the Chinese medias inaccurate and unfair interpre tations, attempting to shift the blame to the Chinese media. After CAIQ released fa vorable test results, DuPont praised the Chinese regulation agencies for their credibility and authority in the matter. Praising others was used to maintain a good relations hip with the Chinese regulation agencies, as well as to repair relationships with the media and the general publics from the Chinese governments endorsement. Internal Coherence Ihlen (2002) suggested assessing the argumen tative/structural coherence, material coherence, and characterological coherence of organizational apologia. According to Ihlen, argumentative/structural coherenc e could be achieved by analyzing the studied organizations output discourse throughout the life cycle of the cris is. The organizations performance in responding to the facts, argum ents, and positions presented in the media coverage demonstrates the responses material coherence On the other hand, the organizations behavior in clinging to its initial narration of th e problem reflects the apologias characterological coherence Argumentative/structural coherence Argumentative/structural coherence emphasizes the internal logic of the crisis response (Ihlen, 2002). In the Teflon crisis case, the potential human health and environmental risk of PFOA is still in a co mplex scientific debate, as no conclusive

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77 evidence is available that is acknowledge d by the whole scientific community. The EPA has not been able to fully ascertain PFOAs harmful effects to human health and the cause of the chemicals wide ex istence in human blood samples and the environment. Based on Sellnows and Ulmer s (2004) discussion about the inherent ambiguity of crisis communication, DuP onts denial stance is argumentatively acceptable in such a situation with the lack of conclusive evidence. The same reasoning also approves DuPont Chinas denial statements before CAIQ released its test results, especially given that the results eventua lly supported DuPonts denial of PFOAs existence in Teflon products. Further, when combining strategies, DuPont took multiple strategies from Coombs (2004) denial and repair postures. The analysis of these strategies illustrated that the company managed to mix different crisis response strategies without sending out contradictory information. This also confirms good argumentative coherence of organizational apologia. Material coherence Material coherence of organization apologia requ ires the accused organization not to overlook important facts, countera rguments, or relevant issues (Ihlen, 2002, p. 192). In the Teflon case, DuPont faced differ ent allegations due to different concerns from stakeholders in the United States and in China. In the United States, DuPont was accu sed of manufacturing harmful products and covering up unfavorable test results by the environmental group EW G. The company was blamed for knowingly contaminating the wa ter supplies of the neighboring community by plaintiffs in the West Virginia class-acti on lawsuit. Then it was charged of failing to submit information required the EPA according to federal reporting rules. As shown in

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78 the study, U.S. DuPont responded to these ch arges promptly and c onsistently, providing competing arguments favorable to the company. Unlike in the United States where Tefl on products have been approved by the FDA and used by consumers for decades without safety concerns, Teflon cookware raised strong suspects in China due to con cerns with its safety quality. The analysis found that key stakeholders in China such as the Chinese regulation agencies, the media, and consumers primarily attributed the Teflon problem to the human health risks of Teflon cookware (see Table 5-7). In this cross-national conflict shifting (CNCS) case, the different social and cultural contexts between the United States and China have resulted in the added difficulty in crisis response. Whereas U. S. regulations agencies approval on Teflon products might not be respected and accepted as their Chinese counterparts decisions could effect, their allegations against Du Pont on reporting rules violation added to Chinese peoples confusion on the Teflon issue. This requires DuPont China to respond to the specific concerns from its stakeholders in China. Although delayed in the initial response, DuPont China, for the most part, managed to offer appropriate responses to answer charges from its targeted audiences in China. Characterological coherence Since CNCS cases involve multiple countries, the evaluation of the organizations characterological coherence has to take into consideration of the potential contradiction between discourse from the companys headquarters and its local branch in a host country. In the Teflon crisis case, DuPonts Chinese branch was found keeping its crisis response very consis tent with the original messages employed by U.S. DuPont. Table 5-2 shows the respons e strategies DuPont employed after the

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79 conflict shifted to China, which could be co mpared to the initial responses adopted by U.S. DuPont in 2003 (see Table 5-1). Th roughout the entire Te flon crisis stages, DuPont denied the existence of PFOA in any Teflon-branded cookware and any violation of reporting rules, suggesting good characterological coherence of its selfdefense discourse. External Corroboration/Media Reception Content analysis of the English and Ch inese language news coverage of the Teflon crisis was used to st udy the external corroboration of DuPonts crisis response strategies. For the purpose of assessing media reception, th e author suggested defining the news reception ranging above 60 per cent as high, between 20-60 percent as moderate, between 5-20 percent as low, between 1-5 percent as slim, and below 1 percent as no reception. Based on this criter ion, the content analysis finding concerning DuPonts response strategies wa s illustrated through Table 6-1. Table 6-1. Media reception of DuPont s crisis response strategies Media Reception English Language News Chinese Language News DuPonts Crisis Response Strategies Percentage Evaluation Percentage Evaluation Clarification (including Comparison) 64% High 54% Moderate Bolstering 30% Moderate 52% Moderate Shifting blame 13% Low 4% Slim Big picture 13% Low <1% No Praising others 4% Slim 2% Slim Attack 2% Slim 4% Slim Compensation 2% Slim <1% No Suffering <1% Slim 4% Slim

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80 As indicated in the table, clarificat ion (including compar ison) was the best received strategy cited in the news coverage. This partly re flects DuPonts insistence on clarifying facts as its prime goal when interacting with reporters considering the companys unique organizational culture. On the other hand, the media are more willing to cite factual information if available, while clarification and comparison strategies are more likely to contain s eemingly concrete arguments. Moreover, DuPonts bolstering was moderately accep ted in both the English language and Chinese language news coverage. Specifically, the Chinese language news accepted DuPonts message that stressed its positive characteristics better than the English language news. This could, to some extent, demonstrate DuPont Chinas active crisis communication efforts after the crisis scope alerted the company. Further, it should be noted th at shifting blame and attack strategies were accepted poorly by the media coverage. This indicates that DuPonts accusation against the Chinese media for inaccurate reporting we re not accepted by the Chinese media and generally ignored in the Chinese language news. Attacking the media in a crisis situat ion might prove ineffective because the charge tends to be rejected by the media c overage. Also, the attack could potentially endanger the relationship betw een the organization and th e media which represent a key stakeholder in a crisis situation. Ho wever, this does not necessarily mean a company under the media attack could not fire back. In this case specifically, DuPonts allegation against the Chinese media was at least received partially by the English language news coverage. This may indicate th at news media outlets are more willing to

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81 include allegations of a cor porate crisis in terms of unfair coverage by news media outlets from other countries as a controversial aspect of a transnational conflict. A Reversed Cross-national Conflict Shift The examination of the Teflon crisis case under the framework of Molleda et al.s (2005) cross-national conflict-sh ifting (CNCS) theory illustra ted a reversed conflict shift phenomenon: the conflict involvi ng a transnational corporati on (TNC) shifts from a home country (USA) to a host country (China) th rough international media, and results in greater impact in the host country. The impact could potentially lead to repercussions in the corporations home country. The study tested four hypotheses. The resu lts supported the first hypothesis that the Chinese news coverage differed significantly from the U.S. news coverage of the Teflon crisis in story features such as even t location, story focus and primary problem attribution. The Chinese news covered significantly more events involving both China and the United States, whereas the U.S. news tended to focus on issues only related to the United States. In terms of story focus, Chin ese news covered a more diverse range of topics while the majority of U.S. news chos e to focus on either the EPAs action or legal suits. Considering the primary attribution of Teflon problems, a significantly higher percentage of Chinese news ascribed the Tefl on crisis to Teflon pr oducts safety concerns than the U.S. news did. In contrast, the U.S. news coverage mainly referred the problem to either federal reporting rules disputes or PFOAs human health and environmental risk. The second hypothesis was also supported th at news outlets were more likely to refer to sources from their own country of origin than sources from other country of origin. This is reasonable because the medi a tend to rely on sources reflecting local characters considering the news values of proximity and prominence.

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82 The findings partially supported the th ird hypothesis that the Chinese news coverage differed significantly from the U.S. ne ws coverage in narrat ive features such as sources cited and direct quotes used. The Chinese news coverage was found using fewer sources and direct quotes than the U.S. news The Chinese press cited significantly fewer direct quotes than its U.S. counterpa rt. However, the study found no significant difference in the number of sources used. This result may indicate reporters in the United States have better source access than those in China, especially considering the emphasis on transparency in the entire U.S. social sy stem. In addition, signi ficant difference was found in terms of preferred sources, indicati ng the distinct news focus as well as key stakeholders involved in the c onflict between the two countries. Further tests on the coding data yielde d an additional hypothesis. The fourth hypothesis was supported that news covering multiple countries as event locations involved more publics and used more sources and direct quotes than news covering one single country. Based on the findings from the examination of DuPonts crisis response discourse and the content analysis of the news cove rage, multiple factors were found contributing to such a reversed CNCS phenomenon. The author suggested discussing the distinct outcome of the DuPont Teflon crisis from three perspectives: the crisis managemen t performance of the involved TNC, the level of media interest in the involved issue, and the unique and complicated social and cultural context of the involved country. Crisis Management Performance An important factor that aggravated the crisis was DuPont Chinas crisis management lapsesthe unpreparedness in cr isis prevention and quick response. The

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83 failure in early signal detection and delay in initial response subjected the company to an unfavorable situation facing negative perceptions by its stakeholders. As the case revealed, the PFOA controvers y was originated se veral years ago. The companys U.S. headquarters had handled th e problem rather smoothly, equipped with ample response materials such as news rel eases, fact sheets, position statements, and relevant Web links. The Chinese branch c ould have performed a lot better had the company implemented an efficient crisis management mechanism integrated across nations. However, the company obviously failed to anticipate the possibility that the media in a geographically remote host country could react this strongl y to an unfavorable news story from another side of the globe. Moreover, the interview with its public affairs manager revealed the inherent barriers in DuPonts organizati onal structure, which could slow the information flow and dissemination in cross-border practices. Conse quently, DuPont China failed to recognize the problem signal and react fast enough to the critical coverage by the domestic media. It is normal that news media outlets tend to rely on more accessible so urces and interpret a story from a more sensational perspective, wh ich in turn, resulted in the elevation of the crisis scope. As demonstrated from the findings, DuPont China later acknowledged the seriousness of the situation and actively em ployed turnaround strategies, managing to restore public confidence and corporate image to some degree. However, according to many crisis management scholars expert ise, an organizations poor response performance in the early stage of a crisis co uld result in long-term negative impacts very hard to offset (Coombs, 1999).

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84 Level of Media Interest The news media have played an important role in the process of CNCS [proposition 9]. The results of this study found that the elevated magnitude of the Teflon crisis in China was partly due to the aggravated Chin ese media coverage. In general, the media interest in the Teflon issue was high accord ing to Molleda and Quinns (2004) CNCS propositions. The conflict direct ly involved a leading transnational corporation DuPont, its world-famous brand Teflon, and a great num ber of involved parties [propositions 4, 7 and 8]. Specifically, the Teflon case engendered greater human interest in China because the U.S. media was found focusing on the perspective of the companys social performance, whereas the Chinese media attributed the problem to the safety concerns about some important, boycottable consum er products used in peoples daily life [propositions 1, 6 and 10]. The distinct news fo cus in a crisis situation between the two countries may predict the different scales of im pact that the media c overage could lead to. Social and Cultural Context The results of this study found that a unique China context has affected the crisis evolution by subjecting DuPonts Teflon products to stricter scrutiny and leaving it more susceptible to attacks. China has undergone a transformation from a highly centralized system to a market-driven economy. Despite Chinas stunning economic growth and considerable reform, its market regulati on and surveillance systems are still very immature. Plus, the government has long impl emented disempowering policy toward any forms of activist and advocacy groups. In such a social context, complaints about businesses poor consumer services and outbreaks of product safety incidents are frequently exposed by the media. Consumers increasing dissatisfacti on and distrust with

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85 business in general have left these companies prone to cris es, as the general publics are easily agitated by negative media cove rage of product safety incidents. Unlike many developed countries, China ha s a relatively short history of using some Western-invented consumer products. When some non-traditional product, Teflon cookware in this case, is challenged, consum er anxiety and boycott actions are more likely to occur. In some cases when the Chinese regulation agencies do not have developed testing measures and regulation policies readily available to ensure the suspected products safety, rumors and challenges could easily spur crises. Apart from these, the Chinese culture has a tradition of low tolerance for uncertainty. Old decision styles such as Rather trust the suspicion, Prepare for the worse possibility, and Never take a risk are still influencing many peoples behavior patterns. Therefore, as the media framed th e Teflon cookware as potentially harmful to human health, the normal reaction by many c onsumers would be to expect the worst and avoid any Teflon-associated products entirely. In addition, as consumer products involve peoples daily lives, different cultures might predict different life styl es that crisis planning and re sponse have to consider. For instance, the Chinese cuisine uses higher temperatures than Western cuisine, easily exceeding 260 degree centigrade, which DuPont us ed to cite as a safety criterion for Teflon cookware use. If presented to we stern audiences, DuPonts argument is compelling that the safety of Teflon products is assured at cert ain range of cooking temperatures. However, in the eyes of the Chinese consumers, such explanation was considered flawed and unreliable, and could backlash DuPonts credibility.

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86 Implication, Limitation and Future Work The descriptive and interpretive nature of the case study enabled rich details to derive from multiple data sources. The study indicated the importance of balancing integrated and localized crisis management considering the inte rconnectedness of the System Age and complicated contextual vari ances across different regions. With the globalization trend, TNCs have to be especially cautious about the potential effects of the CNCS phenomenon. To be proactive in transna tional crisis management, it is advisable that TNCs evaluate their organi zational structures to ensure the facilitation of flexible and dynamic information dissemination and transnational crisis defense mechanisms. Such structures should allow their cr isis managers in different c ountry outlets to exchange and share information, experience, and expertise timely and conveniently. On the other hand, local crisis managers have to be familiar with its specific environmental factors in order to achieve maximum internal coherence and external corroboration in crisis response discourse. Findings and lessons learned in this st udy may prove useful in illustrating and predicting typical trends shar ed by other CNCS cases, espe cially those related to the Chinese market. For instance, the recent Suda n I crisis is another CNCS case with similar characters of the Teflon case. The Suda n I crisis started from the United Kingdom with the British Food Standard Agencys decision in February of 2005 to force the withdrawal of over 500 food pr oducts in the British market, which allegedly contained Sudan I, a potential carcinogen used in dye (BBC, 2005). With international media and the Chinese medias coverage of the Sudan I concern, the conflict quickly spread to China in March 2005 as the Chinese government initiated its own investigations. It was found that some KFC and Heinz products so ld in the Chinese market contained the

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87 suspected chemical, which forced the two companies to apologize and recall their products off the Chinese market (Novis, 2005). Nonetheless, the supported hypotheses in th is thesis were by no means conclusive or could be generalized to ot her situations. Due to the tran snational character of such phenomena, multiple cultural and social contexts can add to the inherently uncertain and unpredictable nature of organizational cris es. This makes planning and implementing crisis defense mechanism in TNCs a lot more complex and challenging than the scope a single case study could possibly involve. Although this study used multiple sources including online documents, archival media records, and an intensive interview, the majority of data were still collected from secondary sources. Besides, the media analysis was limited to the selected news samples retrieved from either Lexis-Nexis for the English language news or SINA.com for the Chinese language news. Accordingly, the spec ific criteria these da tabases adopted in collecting and archiving news may well influen ce the profile of the news samples. Thus results based on these news items may not simulate broader media coverage. Furthermore, both the English language and the Chinese language news coverage were coded with the same English language codi ng sheet. This resulte d in potential coding difficulties considering the ambiguity and subtlety of the Chinese language. These factors could have reduced the objectivity and accura cy of data collection and interpretation. Further research on CNCS is imperative to illuminate challenges facing TNCs with respect to conflicting ethical codes, cultura l clashes, and government intrusion (Coombs, 1999). Possible work will include case studies wi th different sampling strategies to test and refine hypotheses supported in this case study. To inco rporate more primary data

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88 sources, other research methods are suggest ed such as interviews, focus groups and surveys with organizational representatives and their key stakeholders. Based on more extensive case studies and grounded theo ry research, a more thorough model or questionnaire could be developed which coul d be used to analyze and evaluate the performance of integrated crisis manageme nt system in transnational organizations.

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89 APPENDIX CODING SHEET Column Record 1 Variable Name Variable Label Value Labels 1-3 ID Identification Number 101-998 4 Blank 5 LANGUAGE News Story Language 1=Chinese 2=English 6-9 DATE Story Date 0708-1130 10 NTYPE News Source Type 1=Newspaper 2=Online 3=News Agency 4=Newswire 5=Magazine 9=D-K 11 ORIGIN News Source Country of Origin 1=China-Hong Kong 2=USA 3=Europe 4=Asia-pacific 5=Canada 12-15 LENGTH Length-Words [Only for English news item] 0000-5000 16 LOCATION Events CoverageLocation 1=China 2=USA 3=Both 4=Other 17 FOCUS Main Focus 1=EPA Accusation 2=DuPont Discourse-action 3=Teflon Cookware Makers 4=Chinese Regulation 5=Consumer-Market Impact 6=U.S. Legal 7=Chinese Legal 8=Activist Group 9=Other

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90 18 ATTRIB1 Primary Problem Attribution [Primary and secondary attribution could be identified according to the priority order in decreasing sequence: mentioned in the headline, mentioned in the first paragraph, coverage space] 1=Reporting Rules Dispute 2=PFOA-C8 Risk 3=Teflon Cookware Risk 4=Media Problems 5=Regulation Concerns 6=Ethics Concerns* 7=Crisis Response Problems 9=None-D-K 19 ATTRIB2 Secondary Attribu tion 1=Reporting Rules Dispute 2=PFOA-C8 Risk 3=Teflon Cookware Risk 4=Media Problems 5=Regulation Concerns 6=Ethics Concerns* 7=Crisis Response Problems 9=None-D-K 20-21 NPUBLICS Number of Publics [Options for Publics are US Regulation Agencies, Chinese Regulation Agencies, Consumers, Communities/residents, Scientists/experts, Financial Analysts, Activist Groups, Current/Former Employees, Teflon Cookware Makers, media, other chemical companies, industry trade unions, etc.] 00-20 22 Blank 23-24 NSOURCES Number of Sources [Specific info. within the story must be attributed to people or organizations or anonymous sources] 00-20

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91 25 DUPONT DuPont Source [management, spokespeople, scientists, engineers, lawyers] 0=No 1=Yes 26 DUPONTC DuPont China 0=No 1=Yes 27 USREG US EPA FDA [officials, scientists, spokespeople] 0=No 1=Yes 28 CONSU Consumers [i.e. individuals and their lawyers] 0=No 1=Yes 29 CHNREG Chinese Regulation Agencies 0=No 1=Yes 30 SCIENTIS Scientists-Experts [independent scientists, universities scholars, etc] 0=No 1=Yes 31 FINANCIA Financial Analysts [e.g., investment firm analysts] 0=No 1=Yes 32 COOKMAK Teflon-coated Cookware Makers 0=No 1=Yes 33 ACTIVIST Activist Groups 0=No 1=Yes 34 COMMUN Communities/Residents [i.e., individuals or community groups and their lawyers] 0=No 1=Yes 35 EMPLOYE DuPont Employees [current or former workers] 0=No 1=Yes 36 MEDIA Other Media [e.g. newspapers, broadcasting stations, journals] 0=No 1=Yes 37 CHEMCO Other chemical companies [e.g. 3M] 0=No 1=Yes 38 OTHER Other Sources 0=No 1=Yes 39 Blank

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92 40 QUOTES Number of Direct Quotes [Quotes contained within the same source even if broken up by text will be considered one quote. Similarly, a long quote from the same source that starts in one paragraph and continues in a second paragraph will also be considered as only one quote] 0-9 41 QDUPONT Number of DuP ont Direct Quotes 0-9 42 QDUPC DuPont China 0-9 43 QUSREG US EPA FDA 0-9 44 QCONSU Consumers 0-9 45 QCHNREG Chinese Regulation Agencies 0-9 46 QSCIENT Scientists-Experts 0-9 47 QFINAN Financial Analysts 0-9 48 QCOOKM Teflon Cookware Makers 0-9 49 QACTIV Activist Groups 0-9 50 QCOMMU Communities/Residents 0-9 51 QEMPLOY DuPont Employees 0-9 52 QMEDIA Other Media 0-9 53 QCHEMCO Other chemical companies 0-9 54 QOTHER Other Sources 0-9 55 Blank 56 CLARIFIC Clarification Strategy Use [denies the crisis happened and reinforces the denial by explaining why the event could not have happened] 0=No 1=Yes 57 ATTACK Attack [levels charges against the accusers to prompt the stop of making charges] 0=No 1=Yes 58 SHIFTING Shifting Blame [admits a crisis event did occur but places the blame outside the organization.] 0=No 1=Yes

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93 59 DENY Deny Intent [claims the organization cant control events leading to the crisis] 0=No 1=Yes 60 MINIMIZ Minimizing [claims the crisis creates no/little damage and pose no/little threat to stakeholders interest] 0=No 1=Yes 61 COMPAR Comparison [claims the crisis is not as bad as similar crisis] 0=No 1=Yes 62 BIGPIC Big Picture [places the crisis in a larger context and argues that such crises are the price that must be paid for reaching some larger, desirable goal] 0=No 1=Yes 63 MISREP Misrepresentation [argues that the crisis is not as bad as others make it out to be] 0=No 1=Yes 64 SUFFER Suffering [stresses that the organization is also a victim in the crisis] 0=No 1=Yes 65 BOLSTER Bolstering [reminds stakeholders of the good deeds an organization has done in the past] 0=No 1=Yes 66 PRAISING Praising Others [uses flattery toward a stakeholder to win that stakeholders approval of the organization] 0=No 1=Yes 67 COMPENS Compensation [offers stakeholders gifts designed to counterbalance the crisis] 0=No 1=Yes

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94 68 CORRECT Corrective Action [seeks to restore the crisis situation to normal operation and/or promises to make changes which will prevent a repeat of the crisis in the future] 0=No 1=Yes 69 APOLOGY Apology [has the organization accept responsibility for the crisis and ask stakeholders for forgiveness] 0=No 1=Yes 70 Blank 71 SUPPORT1 Support Evidence Use [use of scientific evidence supporting the safety of Teflon and/or Teflon products 0=No 1=Yes 72 SUPPORT2 Support Statement Use [use of statement claiming the safety of Teflon and/or Teflon products 0=No 1=Yes 73 RUFUTE1 Refute Evidence Use [refuting risks of Teflon and/or Teflon products 0=No 1=Yes 74 REFUTE2 Refute Statement Use [refuting safety of Teflon and/or Teflon products 0=No 1=Yes 75 CONTROV Controversy [Is the Teflon/Teflon products Risk framed as a controversy?] 1=No 2=Yes, one-sided 3=Yes, two-sided, not balanced 4=Yes, two-sided, balanced

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95 Explanation of Specific Term or Phrasing: 1 Business Ethics Concerns : Concerns regarding unethical business values and behaviors. The article is coded into this category when phrasings similar to covering up unfavorable evidence or withholding unflattering evidence are used. 2. Number of Publics : Individuals mentioned in the article are first categorized into various publics which they are members of in terms of DuPont st akeholders; then the number of public(s) is counted and recorded. 3. Number of Sources : If the news article cites source As quote of source B, both source A and source B are counted (i.e., number of sources is counted as 2). But note that scientist or engineers identified, in the article, as working for DuPont are categorized into DuPonts voice or Source 1. In the same token, test result published by EPA is categorized into EPAs voice or Source 2, whil e test result published by DuPont belongs to Source 1. However, DuPonts internal doc ument disclosed by EPA but not recognized by DuPont is categorized into EPAs voice. 4. Is Teflon/Teflon Products Risk Framed as a Controversy? When an article contains risk-related tests or comments with exemplars such as unclear, can not be replicated, and controversial, the Teflon/Teflon products risk is framed as controversy. When controversy is framed and the article contai ns sources from both DuPont side and EPA side, it is two-sided, otherwis e one-sided. It is considered balanced when the article devotes about same space to each side.

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96 LIST OF REFERENCES AFX European Focus. (2004, August 20). DuP ont says test resu lts show non-stick cookware is safe AFX European Focus Allen, M. W., & Caillouet, R. H. ( 1994). Legitimation endeavors: Impression management strategies used by an organization in crisis. Communication Monographs 61, 44-62. Arpan, L. M., & Pompper, D. (2003). Stormy weather: Testing ste aling thunder as a crisis communication strategy to im prove communication flow between organizations and journalists. Public Relations Review, 29 (3), 291-308. Badaracco, C.H. (1998). The transparent corporation and organized community. Public Relations Review, 24, 265. Barton, L. (1990, November). Crisis manage ment: Selecting communications strategy. Management Decision 28, 5. Barton, L. (1993). Crisis in organizations: Managing and communicating in the heat of chaos. Cincinnati, OH: College Divisions South-Western. Bechler, C. (2004). Reframing the organiza tional exigency: Taking a new approach in crisis research. In Dan P. Mill ar & Robert L. Heath (Eds.), Responding to crisis: A rhetorical approach to crisis communication (pp. 63-74). Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Benoit, W. L., & Brinson, S. L. ( 1994). AT&T: Apologies are not enough. Communication Quarterly 42, 75. Benoit, W. L. (1995a). Accounts, excuses, apologies: A theory of image restoration strategies. Albany: State University of New York Press. Benoit, W. L. (1995b). An analysis of Sears repair of its auto repair image: Image restoration discourse in the corporate sector. Communication Studies, 46, 89. Benoit, W. L. (1997). Image restorati on discourse and crisis communication. Public Relations Review, 23 177.

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97 Benoit, W. L. (2004). Image restoration disc ourse and crisis communication. In Dan P. Millar & Robert L. Heath (Eds.), Responding to crisis: A rhetorical approach to crisis communication (pp. 263-280). Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Benson, J. A. (1988). Crisis revisited: An anal ysis of strategies used by Tylenol in the second tampering episode. Central States Speech Journal, 39(1), 49. Birch, J. (1994, Spring). New factors in crisis planning and response. Public Relations Quarterly, 39, 31-34. Brinson, S. L., & Benoit, W. L. (1996). Attempting to restore a public image: Dow Corning and the breast implant crisis. Communication Quarterly 44, 29. Brinson, S. L., & Benoit, W. L. (1999). The tarnished star: Restoring Texacos damaged public image. Management Communication Quarterly, 4, 483. British Broadcasting Corporation (2005, March 8). More food withdrawn in dye scare. Retrieved on April 15, 2005, from http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4330275.stm Business Daily Update. (2004, December 9). N on-stick cookware make in China safe. Business Daily Update Caillouet, R. H., & Allen, M. W. (1996). Im pression management strategies: Employees use when discussing their organization's public image. Journal of Public Relations Research 8 (4), 211-227. Coombs, W. T. (1994, July). Crisis manage ment paradigms: The unfinished agenda. Paper presented at the annual meeti ng of the International Communication Association, Sydney, Australia. Coombs, W. T. (1995). Choosing the right word s: The development of guidelines for the selection of the appropriate crisis-response strategies. Management Communication Quarterly, 8, 447. Coombs, W. T. (1998). The Internet as poten tial equalizer: New leve rage for confronting social irresponsibility, Public Relations Review, 24, 3, 289. Coombs, W. T. (1999a). Crisis management: Ad vantages of a relational approach. In J. A. Ledingham & S. D. Bruning (Eds.), Public Relations as relationship management: A relational approach to public relations (pp.71-94). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc. Coombs, W. T. (1999b). Information and compas sion in crisis respons es: A test of their effects. Journal of Public Relations Research, 11 125.

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98 Coombs, W. T. (1999c). Ongoing crisis communication: Planning, managing, and responding. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE. Coombs, W. T., & Schmidt, L. (2000). An empirical analysis of image restoration: Texaco's racism crisis. Journal of Public Relations Research 12 (2), 163-178. Coombs, W. T., & Holladay, S. J. (1996). Comm unication and attributio ns in a crisis: An experimental study of crisis communication. Journal of Public Relations Research 8, 279. Coombs, W. T. (2004). West Pharmaceutical's explosion: Structuring crisis discourse knowledge. Public Relations Review, 30 (4), 467-473. Cortese, A. (2004, August 8). DuPont, now in the Frying Pan The New York Times, p. 1. Couretas, J. (1985, November). Preparing for the worst. Business Marketing, 70 96-100. Cutlip, S. M., Center, A. H., & Broom, G. M. (1994). Effective public relations, 7th ed. (pp. 245). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall. Drumheller, K., & Benoit, W. L. (2004). U SS Greeneville collides with Japans Ehime Maru: Cultural issues in image repair discourse. Public Relations Review, 30 (4), 177-185. Egelhoff, W. G., & Sen, F. (1992). An in formation-processing model of crisis management. Management Communication Quarterly, 5, 443. The Environmental Working Group. (2003, March). PFCs: Global Contaminants Retrieved October 21, 2004, from http://www.ewg.org/repo rts/pfcworld/es.php The Environmental Working Group. (2004, June). With Enforcement Decision Pending, New Documents Show Continuing Pattern of Information Suppression by DuPont Retrieved October 21, 2004, from http://www.ewg.org/issu es/PFCs/20040617/index.php Fearn-Banks, K. (1996). Crisis communications: A casebook approach. Mahwah: NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Fink, S. (1986). Crisis management: Planning for the inevitable New York: AMOCOM. Gonzales-Herrero, A., & Pratt, C. B. ( 1995). How to manage a crisis beforeor wheneverit hits. Public Relations Quarterly 40(1), 25-29. Grunig, J. E., & Grunig, L. A. (1992). Models of public relations and communication. In James E. Grunig (Ed.), Excellence in public relations and communication Management (pp. 28526). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

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102 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH A native Chinese, Yimin Wang was born and raised in Beijing, China. She majored in chemistry at Peking University in Be ijing and earned her B.S. degree with honored thesis, which was later published in J. Mater. Sci. Lett. (London). Right after college graduation, Yimin Wang a ttended the University of Florida to pursue a PhD degree in chemistry. Due to pe rsonal interest, sh e later changed her program to Master of Science in Teaching, which allowed her to study in the Chemistry Department as well as the College of Educati on. After she earned her masters degree in chemistry, she attended the College of Journa lism and Communications at the University of Florida majoring in public relations. Du ring the summer semester, she attended a studying abroad program at Regents College in London to study international public relations. She also interned at the H-Li ne Ogilvy Communication Company in Beijing, China. Yimin Wang recently completed her thesis a nd plans to graduate with her Master of Arts in Mass Communicati on degree in August, 2005.


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CROSS-NATIONAL CONFLICT SHIFTING:
A CASE STUDY OF THE DUPONT TEFLON CRISIS
IN CHINA

















By

YIMIN WANG


A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
MASTER OF ARTS IN MASS COMMUNICATION

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA


2005

































Copyright 2005

by

Yimin Wang

































I would like to dedicate this thesis to my parents and my sister.
They light up my life with their ever-lasting love.















ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I especially would like to thank the following people, who have given me care,

support, and inspiration. This thesis could not have been made possible without them.

My committee chair, Professor Juan-Carlos Molleda offered me valuable

knowledge, expertise, and guidance, and dedicated countless time and efforts throughout

this project. And special thanks go to my two other committee members, Professor Lisa

Duke Cornell and Professor Jennifer Robinson. I would like to thank Professor Lisa Duke

Cornell for her warmest encouragement for me to start this study. I learned from her the

true enthusiasm for research and teaching. I would like to thank Professor Jennifer

Robison for her thoughtful support and inspirational instruction from start to finish.

I thank all my professors in the College of Journalism and Communications, for

their knowledge and guidance during my master's study here in Gainesville. Special

thanks go to Professor Peg Hall, Professor Debbie Treise, Professor Meg Lamme,

Professor Linda Perry, Professor Michael Mitrook, Professor Johanna Cleary, and

Professor Linda Hon. I also thank Professor Alan Freitag from the University of North

Carolina, Charlotte, who provided us a wonderful international public relations course in

London. I thank Jody Hedge at the Graduate Division for all her thoughtful work. I would

also thank my professors at the Chemistry Department and the College of Education, for

their support for me to pursue a career that I truly love and want to spend my life with.

I thank all my friends from my middle school pals to those awesome friends at

Peking University, to those I met at the University of Florida and Regents College in









London. They are the best friends I could ask for, who have brought me endless love and

joy. I especially want to thank my best friends here in the Department of Public Relations

for their love, support, and inspiration: Shu-Yu Lin, Hyemin Yeon, Jiyang Bae, Jingyul

Kim, Eyun-Jung Ki, Dylan Blaylock, and many more. I also thank my dearest friend, Fan

Lin, for his unconditional love and trust.

Most of all, I would thank my father Jian Wang, my mother Yuqin Xu, and my

sister Yineng Wang, for their ever-lasting love, faith, and support throughout my lifetime.

They give me the coolest family that I could ever imagine existed in this world.
















TABLE OF CONTENTS


page

A C K N O W L E D G M E N T S ................................................................................................. iv

T A B L E O F C O N T E N T S ................................................. ............................................ vi

LIST OF TABLES ............. ...... ......... ............. ... ............................... ix

LIST OF FIGURES ............................... ... ...... ... ................. .x

ABSTRACT ........ .............. ............. ...... ...................... xi

CHAPTER

1 INTRODUCTION ............... ................. ........... ................. ... ..... 1

2 LITERA TURE REVIEW .......................................................... ..............4

Cross-N national Conflict Shifting ...................................................................... 4
C crisis R e sp o n se ................. .. ...... .............................................. 8
Stakeholder A ctivism and the N ew M edia................................... .....................8
Rhetorical Approach in Crisis Response........................................................11
Organizational Apologia/Self-Defense Discourse ..............................................11
A pologia objectives .......................................... ........... .............. .. 11
The second level of typologies ............... ............................................. 12
Crisis response suggestions .................................. ........ ............... 15
Review of Case Studies Focusing on Crisis Response Strategies ............................18

3 CASE BACKGROUND AND RESEARCH QUESTIONS ....................................25

Emergence of the Teflon Controversy .............................. ....................25
Evolution of the Teflon Crisis ............................................................................. 27
R research Questions and H ypotheses ................................. ...................................... 31

4 M E T H O D O L O G Y ............................................................................ ................... 32

Time-Series Analysis of DuPont's Crisis Response Strategies................................32
O nlin e N ew s R eleases .............................................................. .....................32
Telephone Interview .................. .................................. ......... .. ...... .... 34
Quantitative Content Analysis of the Media Coverage.............................................34









Time Span............................................ 35
S a m p le P ro file ............................................................................................... 3 5
English language new s ....................................................... .... ........... 35
C hinese language new s ........................................ .......................... 36
Coding Sheet .................................................. 37
Pretest and Inter-coder Reliability .............................................. ...............37
Coding Category and O ption........................................ ........................... 38
D ata A n a ly sis ................................................................................................. 3 9

5 FINDINGS ................................................................ ..... ..... ........ 40

Research Question 1 ................. ...... .......................................... .........40
Initial Response to EW G allegations in 2003 ................................... ...............40
Response to EPA Preliminary Risk Assessment in 2003 ..................................43
Response to EPA Administrative Allegation in 2004 ......................................43
Delayed Initial Response by DuPont China in July ........................................44
Late July Response to Escalated Teflon Scare....................... .................45
August Response to Chinese Media Allegation ...............................................49
September Response to U.S. Lawsuit Settlement ............................................50
October Response to CAIQ Test Result............................................................51
R research Q u estion 2 .............................. .... ....................... ... ...... .... ........... 5 1
English Language N ew s ......................................................... .............. 52
Story m onth and date......................................................... ............... 52
Story features................................................... 53
N arrative features ........... ................... .. .......... .. .... ........... .. 56
Reception of DuPont response and presentation of arguments ..................57
C orrelation findings.......... .................................. ...... ........ ... ......... 58
Chinese Language N ew s .................................. .....................................58
Story m onth and date......................................................... ............... 58
Story features................................................... 59
N arrative features ..... ...... .................... ...... ... .. .... .. ...... .......... ....60
Reception of DuPont response and presentation of arguments ..................61
R research Q u estion s 3 ...................................................... .. ......... ...... ............62
H y p oth esis 1 .......................................................................63
H hypothesis 2 .......................................................................66
H hypothesis 3 .......................................................................66
H hypothesis 4 .......................................................................7 1

6 D ISC U S SIO N ............................................................................... 74

Summary of the Teflon Case ......... ........ ............ .................74
Summary of DuPont's Crisis Response Strategies ......... ....................................75
Apologia Objective and Combined Response Strategies.............. .......... 75
Internal Coherence ....................................... ...... .. .......... 76
Argum entative/structural coherence .................................... ............... 76
M material coh eren ce ............................................................ .....................7 7
Characterological coherence ............................................. ............... 78









External Corroboration/Media Reception ................................. ...............79
A Reversed Cross-national Conflict Shift ...................................... ............... 81
Crisis M anagem ent Perform ance ........................................ ..... ......... 82
L evel of M edia Interest .................................... ......................... ....................84
Social and C cultural C ontext...................................................................... .....84
Implication, Limitation and Future W ork........................................ ............... 86

A PPEN D IX : C O D IN G SH EE T .............................................................. .....................89

LIST OF REFEREN CES ............................................................................. 96

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ............................................................. ............... 102










































viii
















LIST OF TABLES


Table p

4-1. Sample profile of English language news and Chinese language news .................36

5-1. Crisis response strategies employed by U.S. DuPont before the Teflon crisis
shifted to China ................................. ... .. ............... ......... 42

5-2. Crisis response strategies employed by DuPont after the conflict shifted to China.48

5-3. Story month of English language news and Chinese language news....................52

5-4. Story Features of English language news and Chinese language news ...................55

5-5. Selection of Sources in English language news and Chinese language news..........56

5-6. Correlation test of article length by number of publics, sources, direct quotes,
and DuPont direct quotes (English language news)..............................................58

5-7. Event location in the Chinese news and U.S. news coverage.............................63

5-8. Main focus and primary problem attribution in the Chinese and U.S. news
c o v e ra g e .......................................................................... 6 5

5-9. Use of sources with national character in the Chinese and U.S. news coverage .....67

5-10. T-test for the number of sources and direct quotes used in the Chinese and U.S.
new s coverage ........................................................................67

5-11. Selection of sources in the Chinese and U.S. news coverage ................................69

5-12. One-way ANOVA for number of publics, number of sources, and number of
direct quotes grouped by event location in the Chinese news coverage ..................71

5-13. One-way ANOVA for number of publics, number of sources, and number of
direct quotes grouped by event location in the combined news sample ..................72

6-1. Media reception of DuPont's crisis response strategies................ ..................79
















LIST OF FIGURES


Figure pge

5-1 English language news frequency by story month ......... ................................... 53

5-2 English language news frequency by story month at different country origins.......54

5-3 Chinese news frequency by story month...... ....................... ............59

5-4 Event location in the Chinese and U.S. news coverage .......................................64

5-5 M ain focus in the Chinese and U.S. news coverage ............................................. 65

5-6 Primary problem attribution in the Chinese and U.S. news coverage...................66

5-7 Mean of number of sources and direct quotes in the Chinese and U.S. news
c o v e ra g e .......................................................................... 6 8

5-8 Selection of sources in the Chinese news coverage ...........................................69

5-9 Selection of sources in the U.S. news coverage................................................. 70

5-10 Mean plot of number of publics by event location ........... ............. ............... 72

5-11 Mean plot of number of sources by event location ............... ........ ..........72

5-12 M ean plot of number of direct quotes by event location..................... ..................73















Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts in Mass Communication

CROSS-NATIONAL CONFLICT SHIFTING:
A CASE STUDY OF THE DUPONT TEFLON CRISIS IN CHINA

By

Yimin Wang

August 2005

Chair: Juan-Carlos Molleda
Major Department: Journalism and Communications

Few previous crisis studies have focused on transnational processes, which could

provide a fresh and valuable perspective for the global public relations field of study in

terms of transnational crisis planning and implementation. Thus, this thesis examines and

interprets a transnational crisis, the DuPont Teflon crisis, focusing on the interaction

between the involved transnational corporation's crisis management efforts and the

global media coverage. This crisis originated in the United States due to the U.S.

Environmental Protection Agency's action against DuPont, and then unexpectedly shifted

to China and turned into an escalated domestic crisis. The purpose of this study was to (1)

illustrate various challenges in crisis management posed by transnational processes, and

(2) test and expand the cross-national conflict shifting (CNCS) theory.

In this study, DuPont's news releases and an interview with its public affairs

manager were analyzed to identify its response strategies throughout the life cycle of the

Teflon crisis. In addition, a quantitative content analysis of the English and Chinese









language news coverage of the Teflon crisis was conducted to test the CNCS theory and

examine the media reception of DuPont's response strategies.

The study found DuPont China unprepared for the crisis in terms of early signal

detection and prompt initial response. DuPont subsequently implemented a series of

active turnaround actions and multiple response strategies. However, the damage to the

company's reputation and the Chinese Teflon market due to its response lapses in the

early stage of the crisis could be hard to recover from in the short term.

The findings of the study indicated that DuPont employed a strategy mix mainly

combining clarification, comparison, and bolstering strategies, supplemented by

strategies of attack, shift blame, and praising others. These strategies were used to offer

a competing narrative considering the unfavorable perceptions held by its stakeholders

and redefine the alleged acts to less offensiveness. DuPont's combined strategies were

found internally coherent and partially corroborated by the media coverage.

The study indicated a reversed CNCS phenomenon: the conflict involving a

transnational corporation shifts from a home country to a host country through

international media and results in greater impact in the host country. The impact could

potentially lead to repercussions in the corporation's home country. Based on the

findings from testing of the hypotheses, the study suggested interpreting such a

phenomenon from three perspectives: the crisis management performance of the

involved transnational corporation, the level of media interest in the involved issue, and

the unique and complicated social and cultural context of the involved country.














CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION

Globalization of politics, business transactions, news, and information technology

has blurred traditional geographic boundaries as information flows instantly and freely

across borders. Today transnational organizations are operating under the oversight of

global players such as non-governmental organizations (NGOs), governments, and global

media.

According to Molleda and Connolly-Ahern (2002), transnational corporations'

(TNCs) decisions, actions, and operations that affect domestic publics in a country could

also impact transnational publics in many locations and home publics at their

headquarters. In order to study public relations practices during such transnational

processes, a team of researchers developed the theory of cross-national conflict shifting

(CNCS) with various propositions (Molleda & Connolly-Ahern, 2002; Molleda & Quinn,

2004; Molleda, Connolly-Ahern, & Quinn, 2005). Within this theoretical framework, a

conflict or crisis involving a TNC in one country could potentially shift to another

country or countries, facing the threat of an escalated crisis, which could tarnish its

reputation and even result in negative financial consequences at a transnational level.

Crisis response research has been an important and increasingly growing area in the

public relations field (e.g., Benoit, 1997; Coombs, 1995; Coombs, 1999c; Gonzales-

Herrero & Pratt, 1995; Hearit, 1999; Heath & Millar, 2004; Ihlen, 2002). However, few

previous studies have focused on cross-national or transnational processes, which could

offer a fresh perspective of systematic crisis preparation for TNCs (e.g., Taylor, 2000).









Often, a cross-national crisis appears unanticipated and unreasonable. Close studies of

existing cross-national crises are imperative for the global public relations field to better

understand the conflict or crisis dynamic complicated by interactions among key players

and other contextual or environmental factors (see Vercic, L. Grunig, & J. Grunig, 1996;

Sriramesh & Verci6, 2003).

Thus the purpose of this paper is to first integrate the theory of CNCS and crisis

response literature, and then introduce, examine, and interpret a transnational crisis

focusing on the interaction between the involved TNC's crisis management efforts and

the media coverage. This recent corporate crisis, the DuPont Teflon crisis in China,

originated in the United States due to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA)

administrative action against DuPont, which then shifted to China where it transformed

into a consumer product safety crisis.

This case study provides a good opportunity to (1) illustrate various challenges in

crisis management practices posed by transnational processes and (2) test and expand the

theory of CNCS in a unique Chinese scenario. In addition to examining the dynamic

evolution of the DuPont Teflon crisis, the study analyzes DuPont's crisis response

discourse by evaluating its internal coherence and determining its external corroboration

through a systematic analysis of the Chinese media and international media coverage.

China is one of the fastest growing markets in the world, yet with a relatively short

history and weak tradition for public relations practice and research. Thus this study

seeks to examine the crisis communication planning and implementation strategies

employed by public relations managers working for a TNC expanded to the Chinese

market. Besides, this study also seeks to expand the knowledge base of global public










relations by adding a unique Chinese perspective with its distinct social and cultural

context.














CHAPTER 2
LITERATURE REVIEW

Cross-National Conflict Shifting

According to German international business scholars Weldge and Holtbrugge

(2001, p. 323, cited in Molleda & Connolly-Ahem, 2002), today transnational

corporations (TNCs) are confronted with "globally active groups," which oversight their

behaviors in different operational sites. Berg and Holtbrugge (2001, p. 112, cited in

Molleda & Connolly-Ahem, 2002) acknowledge that "interest groups in one country

condemn multinational corporations for what they are doing in other countries."

Conflicts, therefore, are no longer isolated in a single country where they originated, but

may be fought in other countries where interest groups can "best push through their

position" (Weldge & Holtbrugge, 2001, p. 324, cited in Molleda & Connolly-Ahem,

2002).

Molleda and Connolly-Ahern (2002) borrowed this concept of cross-national

conflict shifting (CNCS) from the discipline of international management and introduced

it to the public relations academia in 2002. They illustrate and expand the concept to a

systematic conceptualization of CNCS theory as it relates to the global public relations

field.

With today's unprecedented power of Internet communications, a local issue could

easily shift across national borders and impact stakeholders internationally. Such cross-

national conflict shifts involve a variety of publics at various geographical levels, namely,









host, home, and transnational publics (e.g., NGOs and activist groups, global media

outlets, shareholders) (Molleda & Connolly-Ahern, 2002).

To illustrate the CNCS conceptualization, Molleda and Connolly-Ahern (2002)

provide a case study where a legal incident involving America Online Latin America

(AOLA) in Brazil caused repercussions in the U.S. and European financial markets.

Molleda and Connolly-Ahern (2002) further elaborate the conceptualization of CNCS as:

There are organizational decisions, actions and operations that affect publics in one
country and have an impact internationally. This impact seems to be greater at the
home country of the organization or organizations involved, which could be
explained by the relevance and proximity of organization for the home publics.
Domestic conflicts are increasingly shifting worldwide because of the growth of
international transactions, transportation and communication, especially
information technology. (p. 4)

Molleda and Quinn (2004) expand the dynamic of CNCS theory and use four

additional cases to illustrate its various components, including: (1) the characteristics of

the issue, (2) the ways a national conflict reaches transnational audiences; and (3) the

parties involved or affected (p. 3). Molleda and Quinn propose ten propositions for

further testing (p. 5-7):

Proposition 1. Cross-national conflict shifting is mainly related to corporate social

performance issues and negative economic consequences of globalization.

Proposition 2. The magnitude of a cross-national conflict shifting will increase

when it starts in an emergent or developing economy because of the greater pressure the

transnational corporation will face in the host country and from the international activist

community.

Proposition 3. Conflicts that occur in developed nations usually have a shorter life

and do not cross borders as often as conflicts that start in developing nations or emergent

economies.









Proposition 4. A greater number of involved parties will characterize a cross-

national conflict shift in which a developed nation's transnational corporation is the

principal participant of the crisis.

Proposition 5. A lower number of involved parties will characterize a cross-

national conflict shift in which a developing nation or emergent economy corporation is

the principal participant of the conflict.

Proposition 6. Transnational corporations that produce or commercialize tangible,

boycottable products are more likely to receive attention than those who produce and

commercialize intangible services.

Proposition 7. Transnational corporations headquartered in developed nations that

produce or are part of a national conflict outside their home country will attract

significant attention from global NGOs, international regulatory bodies, national

governments, organized citizen groups, and international news agencies and global media

outlets.

Proposition 8. The direct involvement of a transnational corporation in a cross-

national conflict shift will produce greater consequences and demand a more

comprehensive set of responses than a transnational corporation that is indirectly related

to the issue.

Proposition 9. National conflicts shift to the international arena when (primarily)

global NGOs or media report on the situation to audiences or publics in different parts of

the world. However, there will be occasions in which the transnational corporation itself

alerts authorities in its home country about improper actions or behaviors the

transnational corporation is involved overseas.









Proposition 10. National conflicts with a great human-interest focus are likely to

be shifted to the international arena.

To test these propositions, Molleda et al. (2005) conduct a content analysis of news

coverage of a Lesotho (a Southern African nation) bribery scandal which was shifted to

the international scenario, indicating the intricacy and magnitude of interactions amongst

different players involved. Three hypotheses are tested and supported:

Hypothesis 1. News media outlets will publish stories about international conflicts

in greater length when the story focuses on corporate players from the news media's

country of origin.

Hypothesis 2. The news coverage of the Lesotho case will be characterized by the

use of more sources and quotes in the North American (Canada-United States) news

coverage than in the European and African coverage.

Hypothesis 3. The news coverage of the Lesotho case will be more extensive (i.e.,

number of sources and number of quotes) in Europe than Africa, yet less intensive than in

North America (Canada-United States).

Molleda et al. (2005) call for more studies to further test and develop the theory of

CNCS. Future work is expected to include case studies of cross-national conflict shifts

not directly involving a government function, other media sources besides newspapers,

and a wider range of language sources in cases involving a non-English speaking country

(Molleda et al., 2005).

Thus in this thesis the DuPont Teflon crisis in China is introduced to serve such

purposes, focusing on a corporate crisis response perspective. This recent cross-national

conflict shift or transnational crisis originated from the United States due to the U.S.









Environmental Protection Agency's administrative action against DuPont, and then

shifted to China where it transformed into a consumer product safety crisis.

Crisis Response

Organizational crisis is typically associated with an untimely event that "has actual

or potential consequences for stakeholders' interests as well as the reputation of the

organization suffering from the crisis" (Heath & Millar, 2004, p. 2). Crisis involves

events and outcomes about which key stakeholders make attribution regarding cause and

responsibility (Coombs & Holladay, 1996). If poorly managed, crisis can damage the

organization's reputation and its efforts to create understanding and maintain mutually

beneficial relationships with its stakeholders. It may even mature into a public policy

issue and affect the organization's ability to compete in the marketplace (Heath & Millar,

2004). Today, organizations are becoming more susceptible to crises due to a variety of

environmental developments (Barton, 1993).

Stakeholder Activism and the New Media

According to Hearit's (1999) review, Grunig's (1989, 1992, 1997, cited in Hearit,

1999) situational theory of publics identifies three factors-"problem recognition,"

"constraint recognition," and "level of involvement"-to interpret the active degree

stakeholders engage in seeking information and criticizing the organization under

question. Following this reasoning, high degree of problem recognition, low degree of

external constraint, and high degree of emotional or financial involvement would prompt

latent publics to become more active publics and get involved in a crisis situation (Hearit,

1999).

Today, new communication technologies have empowered individuals with an

unprecedented degree of information access and public influence (Badaracco, 1998).









Websites, chat rooms, and other online community forums have permeated into people's

daily life. Individuals become more likely to access information concerned, link with

other like-minded stakeholders, share information and observations, influence each

other's meaning systems, and unite to initiate coordinated actions (Coombs, 1998; Cozier

& Witmer, 2001; Hearit, 1999). With easy access to the Internet and electronic

publishing, and the emergence and increasing popularity of personal journalism-blogs,

the general public, rather than a limited number of social elites, are allowed to accelerate

awareness, participate in the coverage of an incident, and exert influence on the crisis

evolution. Therefore, the new media have indeed resulted in a heightened level of

problem recognition and involvement and a lowered level of external constraint.

Stakeholders are increasingly becoming more active and vocal when dealing with

organizations under siege (Hearit, 1999).

Stakeholder groups such as customers, shareholders, employees, governments,

NGOs, and representatives of the media, have become more and more important players

in organizational crises. Irate customers are more likely to speak out about consumer

issues and take them to the public (Maynard, 1993). Disgruntled shareholders have

fought hard to exert more control over corporate governance (Star, 1993). Activist groups

are more organized and shrewd than ever to initiate and instigate negative public relations

campaigns, boycotts, and negative information dissemination through the Internet

(Mitroff, 1994). Furthermore, corporations are challenged by interventions from

governments and NGOs with regard to their business ethics and behaviors (Coombs,

1999c).









Media, or the firestorm of media attention following an issue or an accident, have

long been viewed by many public relations practitioners at the epicenter of catalyzing and

sustaining crises (Coombs, 1999c; Ketchum, 2004; Moore, 2004). Today new

communication technologies have enabled the media to far exceed the traditional print

media and extend to encompass faster, 24/7, more versatile and interactive channels. On

the other hand, focusing on the instant releasing and updating of breaking news stories,

Internet newsgroups are typically less strictly monitored in terms of news sources and

facts' accuracy (Hearit, 1999).

In today's high-tech, high-volume communication environment, the instant

transmission of news through cables and the Internet across the globe can turn a formal

isolated local issue or crisis into an international hot topic within minutes (Coombs,

1999c; Ketchum, 2004; Moore, 2004). Due to the media interest in crises, a situation in a

minor market that used to be of an insignificant influence may quickly become major

news in any market in the world in a rainfall of news coverage from international media

sources (Ketchum, 2004).

Consequently, the rise of stakeholder activism and the proliferation of the new

media have combined to reinforce their powers to evoke and intensify conflicts or crises

(Barton, 1993; Coombs, 1999c; Mitroff, 1994; Moore, 2004). Organizations face crises

that have profound and dramatic impacts on the organizations and their surrounding

communities (Gonzales-Herrero & Pratt, 1995; Moore, 2004). The escalated risks of

financial and reputational damages due to the environmental developments have forced

organizations to place higher premiums on crisis management (Coombs, 1999c).









Rhetorical Approach in Crisis Response

Among the various branches of crisis literature, crisis response is one of the most

popular topics and a diverse and increasingly growing field (Coombs, 1999b). Many

researches have been conducted to analyze organizational response and defense in

disasters, scandals, illegalities, and corporate product safety incidents (Hearit, 1999).

According to Heath and Millar (2004), the responsibility for a crisis, its magnitude,

and its duration are contestable. Therefore, a rhetorical approach has been frequently

applied by many scholars in crisis response studies, which features organizations'

discourse over time, their response options and processes, and their message development

and presentation (Ihlen, 2002; Heath & Millar, 2004). Such a rhetorical approach stresses

the use of language to influence perceptions of the organization and the crisis (Bechler,

2004). Also, it focuses on the role that information, framing, and interpretation plays in

the crisis evolution and outcome (Heath & Millar, 2004).

Organizational Apologia/Self-Defense Discourse

Apologia objectives

Under the surge of attacks, organizations regularly refer to mass media and employ

self-defense discourse, or apologia, to "clear their names," mitigate hostility, and repair

the damage to their reputation (Hearit, 1999). Organizational apologia is a "justifiable

form of corporate communication" which presents a compelling explanation of its actions

and "counter description...to situate alleged wrongdoing in a more favorable context"

(Hearit, 1994, p. 115). According to Hearit (1994), the objectives of organizational

apologia are:

1. Present a competing narrative describing the situation favorable to the
organization, often by strategic definitions that seek to delimit the issue by
establishing certain premises.









2. Diffuse anger and hostility toward the organization through a statement of regret.

3. Dissociate the organization from the wrongdoing. (Ihlen, 2002, p. 188)

The second level of typologies

Many scholars have conducted research to examine the organizational crisis

responses and identify the recurring self-defense strategies. A number of typology

systems have been proposed by various researchers to categorize response strategies and

interpret how corporate entities or individuals execute their self-defense in a crisis

situation. Among them, Benoit's (1995a) five-strategy, 14-subcategory typology is

regarded as the most comprehensive image restoration typology widely used in personal

and corporate image repair studies (e.g., Benoit, 1995a, 1995b, 1997, 1998, 2004; Benoit

& Brinson, 1994; Brinson & Benoit, 1996, 1999; Frantz & Blumenthal, 1994; Sellnow &

Ulmer, 1995). On the other hand, Coombs' (1999b) seven-category typology, which is

then further developed and refined into a three-posture typology (2004), is believed to be

most closely related to public relations efforts (Seeger, Sellnow, & Ulmer, 2003).

Benoit's typology. Base on past research, Benoit (1995a) develops the image

repair typology applicable for both personal and organizational reputation restoration

efforts. It includes five general strategies as denial, evading of responsibility, reducing

offensiveness of event, corrective action, and mortification.

Denial includes two subcategories. Simple denial is employed when the

organization denies any responsibility for an event. Shifting blame, or scapegoating, on

contrast, intends to shift the blame from the organization to outside individuals or

agencies.

Evading responsibility has four subcategories including Provocation, defeasibility,

accident, and good intentions. Provocation claims that the accused action was merely









responsive to another's offensive action. Defeasibility refers to the claim by the

organization as lack of information or control. Accident, is employed when the

organization claims that the offensive action occurred by accident. Good Intentions, in

contrast, claims that the offensive action was done with good intentions.

Reducing offensiveness of event contains six subcategories. Bolstering emphasizes

the positive characteristics they have or positive acts they have done. Minimization

downplays the negative effect due to the wrongful act. Differentiation differentiates the

accused act from other similar but more offensive ones. Transcendence places the

accused act in a more favorable context. Attack accuser damages the credibility of the

source of allegation, whereas compensation reimburses the victim to mitigate the

negative effect.

The last two general strategies are corrective action and mortification. Corrective

action refers to the strategy when the accused promises to correct the problem (e.g.,

restore operation to preexisted state or prevent the recurrence of such problem).

Mortification, on the other hand, is the strategy when the accused confesses and begs for

forgiveness.

Coombs' typology. When a communicative dialogue is taken, the organization has

in fact engaged in apologia, or some degree of concession, with its stakeholders (Ihlen,

2002). Coombs' (2004) typology differs from Benoit's (1995a) by stressing a series of

strategies on a continuum from defensive to accommodative. Coombs (2004) categories

corporate defense strategies into three postures-deny, diminish, and repair-each

represents a set of strategies sharing similar communicative goals as follows:









The deny posture, as the most defensive posture, includes three strategies that claim

either no crisis occurred or that the organization has no responsibility for the crisis.

Clarification denies the crisis happened and reinforces the denial by explaining why the

event could not have happened. Attack levels charges against the accusers to prompt the

stop of making charges. Shifting blame admits a crisis event did occur but places the

blame outside the organization.

The diminish posture, a moderate posture in the defensive-accommodative

continuum, represents a set of strategies that seek to alter publics' attributions by

reframing how publics should interpret the crisis. It includes two general strategies as

Excuse and justification when the organization acknowledges the occurrence of the crisis

and its involvement in the crisis. Excuse is employed to minimize the organization's

responsibility for the crisis event, which could be done by deny intent and deny violation

(cannot control events leading to the crisis). Justification, on the hand, accepts

responsibility but seeks to offset the negativity associated with the crisis. It could be

reached through minimizing (claiming the crisis creates no/little damage and pose

no/little threat to stakeholders' interest), comparison (not as bad as similar crisis), big

picture (places the crisis in a larger context and argues that such crises are the price that

must be paid for reaching some larger, desirable goal), and misrepresentation (argues that

the crisis is not as bad as others make it out to be).

The repair posture, the most accommodative posture, contains six strategies that

seek to improve the organization's image in some way. Suffering stresses that the

organization is also a victim in the crisis. Bolstering reminds stakeholders of the good

deeds an organization has done in the past. Praising others uses flattery words toward a









stakeholder to win its approval of the organization. Compensation offers stakeholders

gifts designed to counterbalance the crisis. Corrective action seeks to restore the crisis

situation to normal operation and/or promises to make changes which will prevent a

repeat of the crisis in the future. Apology has the organization accept responsibility for

the crisis and ask stakeholders for forgiveness.

Crisis response suggestions

Openness, promptness, and compassion. Most crisis response experts argue

against the stonewalling tactic, or the complete refusal to comment or cooperate when an

organization is accused of wrong doing (Coombs, 1995; Hearit, 1994; Ihlen, 2002). On

the contrary, when a crisis hits, the organization needs to communicate with its

stakeholders in a prompt and open manner (Coombs, 1999b).

Promptness in response has been viewed as a key element to handle crisis

situations. Because stakeholders want to know the information and will listen to whoever

ready to answer their questions (Fearn-Banks, 1996; Hearit, 1994). If an organization

remains silent or delays to respond, speculations and rumors will quickly fill the

information void particularly considering the current new media environment (Coombs,

1999b). Besides, delay in responding to the media can create the perception that the

accused has something to hide, as 65 percent of survey respondents assumed that "no

comment" implied guilt (Lerbinger, 1997).

"Tell it early, tell it all, and tell it yourself" is regarded as an important guideline to

follow in the new information age when facts can hardly be covered up (Ketchum, 2004).

Crisis experts stress the necessity of openness in crisis communication, meaning the

organization being available and willing to disclose information to the media and other

stakeholders (Coombs, 1999b). Organizational communication research also indicates









openness as an effective element in building positive communication relationship

(Richmond & McCroskey, 1992).

In addition, some crisis response experts stress showing compassion to stakeholders

and noting their interests as another essential element in crafting crisis response messages

(e.g., Coombs, 1999c; Coombs & Holladay, 1996; Marcus & Goodman, 1991; Siomkos

& Shrivastava, 1993). The provision of instructing information and increased statements

of compassion are proved to have a positively effect on stakeholders' "perceptions of

organizational reputation," "account honoring," and "supportive behavior" (Coombs,

1999c).

Internal coherence. Consistency, or the internal coherence of an organization's

self-defense strategies, significantly influences the success or the failure of its

communication efforts (Ihlen, 2002). A combination of crisis response strategies is

suggested to be employed to reinforce the image restoration power. However, the

prerequisite of mixing different strategies is that the overall message should be free of

contradiction (Barton, 1993; Ihlen, 2002). For instance, crisis managers should not

combine deny strategies with any strategies that acknowledge the occurring of a crisis

(Coombs, 2004). The combined use of accident and denying mistakes is viewed as

contradictory, which undermines an organization's mortification intent (Drumheller &

Benoit, 2004).

According to Coombs' (1998) situational crisis communication theory,

organizational apologia is a discourse controlled by situations. Crisis managers should

match their communication strategies to the contingent situational factors (Coombs,

1999b), and the degree of perceived responsibility attached to the organization (Ihlen,









2002). Changes in an organization's response strategies are necessary when a crisis

evolves and the new situation prompts the organization to alter its initial position. This,

however, could be potentially problematic if the public relations managers fail to respond

consistently during a crisis, which could damage the credibility of the organization's

response (Coombs, 1999b).

In Ihlen's (2002) case study, the author seeks to assess the internal coherence of the

changing crisis-response strategies employed by Mercedes. Ihlen (2002) proposes an

evaluation strategy concentrating on three perspectives built on Fisher (1987)'s coherence

theory:

1. Argumentative/structural coherence: the story being told must have an internal
logic to it, meaning it should hang together. The characters must seem to act
from good reasons and so forth.

2. Material coherence: the story needs external coherence. It should not overlook
important facts, counterarguments, or relevant issues. The story must be
complete in terms of the events previously learned from other sources.

3. Characterological coherence: the narrators or the actors of the story must be
believable. They should inhibit sets of fairly predictable and stable actional
tendencies and thereby build ethos. (p. 191-192)

Ihlen (2002) notes that charactergorical coherence has to be weighed against the

material coherence. As the crisis evolves into a new context, the media pressure or other

external facts may force the organization to change its response strategies. When an

initial argument proves invalid or unacceptable, the organization's insisting on

charactergorical coherence may fail its communication efforts to reach material

coherence.

Crisis reception/external corroboration. To evaluate the effectiveness of

organizational apologia, assessments have to be conducted on the crisis reception, or how

communication-targeted publics accept the crisis response given by the organization









accused. Ideally, reactions from multiple stakeholders should be analyzed. Measurement

results of their satisfaction to the organizational apologia and their perceptions of the

organization's responsibility and reputation are important to determine the outcome of

organizational apologia.

Crisis response scholars have employed different methods to study crisis reception

as an indicator of an organization's crisis management performance. Media analysis is an

important and typical tool to study the impact of organizational apologia. Newsgroups'

interpretations of an organization's crisis response messages and behaviors are analyzed,

which could be used as external corroboration of the organization's crisis communication

efforts. Additional methods that serve similar purpose include interviews, surveys, and

public opinion polls.

Besides, empirical experiments have been conducted to determine the effectiveness

of different strategies in a given situation. For example, in Coombs and Schmidt's (2000)

study, Coombs and Schmidt design an experiment with the Texaco crisis scenario and

actual messages employed by Texaco. This strategy is used to quantitatively test

hypotheses involving respondents' reactions to Texaco's response strategies.

Review of Case Studies Focusing on Crisis Response Strategies

AT&T's defense after its long-distance service interruption in New York in 1991 is

analyzed by Benoit and Brinson (1994). The researchers find that AT&T initially

attempted to shift the blame to lower-level workers but as more of the story was exposed,

AT&T chose to use the strategies of mortification (apologizing) and bolstering

(emphasizing its merits-its commitment to excellence, heavy investment in its service,

and skilled workers), and finally, AT&T promised to employ corrective action

(promising a comprehensive review of its operations to anticipate and prevent future









problems). The authors conclude that AT&T's later crisis response effort and strategies

were well conceived and should have helped to restore the company's image.

Benoit (1995a) analyzes Exxon's response to the Valdez oil spill in 1989 and

contends Exxon's image restoration campaign was not very effectual. Exxon mainly used

shifting blame strategy supplemented by minimization (downplaying the magnitude of

the problem), bolstering (stressing its image as a concerned company), and corrective

action (promising to alleviate the problem). Benoit argues that Exxon's attempt to shift

the blame for the accident to Captain Hazelwood might be sensible because he was found

drinking before the accident. However, the shifting of blame for the delay in the clean-up

to slow authorization from the state of Alaska and the Coast Guard failed to be plausible.

Furthermore, Exxon's effort to minimize the extent of the problem was invalidated by TV

and newspaper coverage; its slow and inept clean-up undermined the credibility of its

effort in bolstering and corrective action.

Benoit (1995a) also studies Union Carbide's response to its 1984 gas leak in

Bhopal, India which killed thousands. Benoit identified Union Carbide's primary

strategies as bolstering and corrective action (a relief fund, an orphanage, medical

supplies, and medical personnel) and finds them appropriate. However, the author notes

the weakness of this response in lacking of promised actions to prevent the problem

recurrence.

Similarly, Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola's three years of advertising (1990-1992) in a

trade publication, Nation's Restaurant News, is examined by Benoit (1995a) on how

Coke countered Pepsi's charge (claiming that Coke charged less on McDonald's than

other customers) and fired against Pepsi (pointing out that Pepsi used the profits it earned









from its customers to own fast food restaurants including 19,500 Taco Bells, KFCs, and

Pizza Huts). Benoit argues that Coke and Pepsi both employed bolstering and attacking

accusers, and Coke also used simple denial. Coke's attack and defense, however, was

perceived more persuasive and superior than Pepsi's.

Dow Coming's defense against the harsh criticism over the potential danger of its

breast implants is studied by Brinson and Benoit (1996). Three phases are identified

including the initial denial, minimization, bolstering, and attacking accusers, the later

transcendence due to the disclosure of its own damaging internal documents, and the final

mortification and corrective action. The author notes that only when Dow Corning shifted

its position to corrective action did the attack begin to abate.

Benoit and Czerwinski (1997) analyze USAir's response to Frantz and

Blumenthal's (1994) the accusation in The New York Times for lack of safety after its

1994 Pittsburgh crash which killed 132 people. USAir put out three newspaper full-page

letter ads from its management, pilots, and flight attendants, using bolstering, denial

(denying unsafe operation), and corrective action (appointment of an Air Force General

to oversee safety). According to the authors' judgment, these defense strategies are

relatively unsuccessful because denial contradicts with corrective action, and the missing

of a letter from the ground crew to counter the charge of delayed repair backfires.

Benoit (1998) examines the tobacco industry's defense against the attacks from TV

shows (Prime Time Live and Day One) and Commissioner Kessler of Food and Drug

Administration (FDA) alleging that the companies knowingly added nicotine to cigarettes

out of greed when they were aware of the addictiveness of cigarettes. Based on the

industry's testimony in Congress and newspaper advertising, Benoit acknowledges that it









used denial (denying nicotine and cigarettes are addicting and that they add nicotine to

cigarettes), as well as bolstering and good intentions, attacking accusers, and

differentiation (cigarettes are not like heroin, but more similar to Twinkies). Although

these strategies are considered largely ineffective compared to the attack, the author

points out that both the attack and the defense indicate how multiple strategies could

function to reinforce main ideas.

Brinson and Benoit (1999) analyze Texaco's response to the accusation of racism

due to a private remark about how African-Americans were like "black jelly

beans... glued to the bottom of the jar." Texaco is found to have employed bolstering,

corrective action, mortification, and shifting the blame (shifting blame to a group of "bad

apples" employees).

Hearit (1999) studies Intel's flawed chip crisis in 1994, which was initiated by

Internet news groups' criticism that Intel's Pentium processor was prone to error in

sophisticated calculations due to flaws in the chips. According to the study, the first and

primary response Intel enacted was a denial posture and a strategy of minimization

(denying that the character of the flaw was significant enough to cause concern). Intel

claimed that "statistically, the average person might see this problem once in every

27,000 years" (Clark, 1994, p. 84), but this analogy was proved unpersuasive according

to Hearit's (1999) interpretation. This in fact evoked another round of criticism that Intel

was insensitive to customers' concerns. When IBM came out to counter Intel's

minimization strategy declaring the error occurred once every 24 days, Intel had to shift

their stance and announce public apologies and the replacement of the chips. In

particular, the author applies Grunig's (1989, 1992, 1997) situational theory of publics to









the phenomenon of Internet newsgroups and argues that the Internet technology

facilitates the formation of active publics. Hearit (1999) also suggests companies to use

staff or hire firms (using readily available technology) to monitor Internet news groups

for criticism to better respond to customers' needs.

Ihlen (2002) conducts an in-depth analysis of Mercedes's changing responses to the

public relations crisis triggered by Mercedes A-Class's overturn during test drives right

after its October 1997 launch. The author argues that Mercedes' eventual success in the

restoration of the company's reputation and the relaunch of the A-Class might be due to

its effective response strategies-mainly ingratiation and corrective action-in the latest

phase of the crisis, although this effort has been partly set off by its incoherence in

response messages. Thus the author suggests public relations managers be cautious when

combining and changing response strategies in crisis communication considering the

coherence principle.

Greer and Moreland (2003) study American Airlines (AA) and United Airlines'

(UA) websites crisis communication efforts during the first three weeks following the

terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. According to Sturges' (1994) response phases

propositions, corporate messages should shift from "internalizing" information prior to or

in the early stage of a crisis to "instructing" communication in crisis breakout stage and

then to "adjusting" communication as crisis subsides and then "internalizing" message as

the crisis subsides. The study indicates that both AA and UA followed Sturges' (1994)

suggestions and employed their corporate websites to convey instruction information

(such as facts and guiding information) and adjusting communication (such as

condolence messages and links to relief organizations). The authors suggest that airlines









use online communication as an essential tool to offer immediate response and frequent

updates to their diverse publics in attack situations.

The U.S. Navy's image restoration communication following the USS Greeneville

collision with the Japanese trawler nearby Pearl Harbor, which killed nine people, is

investigated by Drumheller and Benoit (2004). According to the study, U.S. Navy

employed mortification as their primary strategy, which is deemed suitable to the

Japanese culture; however, a direct apology to the victims' families was perceived

important by Japanese people but was actually missing. The authors suggest four

guidelines for image repair effort in crisis situations involving cultural issues: "(1)

involve a culturally versed employee or consultant; (2) engage diplomatic relations to

enhance the likelihood of the acceptance of image restoration strategies; (3) strategically

identify compatible combinations of defense strategies; and (4) present a consistent

defense" (p. 184)

Coombs (2004) proposes a system of Crisis Communication Standards derived

from previous crisis literature. He studies the West Pharmaceutical's (West) massive

explosion at its facility killing six employees in 2003 and evaluates West's crisis

response strategies against the Crisis Communication Standards. He points out that

West's crisis response is perceived effective through addressing the concerns and needs

of employee and customer stakeholders. Nonetheless, the author suggests the crisis

managers could have done better by portraying an accidental nature of the crisis and

presenting possible corrective actions.

Hearit and Brown (2004) analyze Merrill Lynch's reputation restoration discourse

responding to its public relations crisis when Attorney General of New York opened an









investigation of fraud at Merrill Lynch in 2001. The crisis was initiated by the damaging

emails indicating analysts were recommending underperformed stocks to individual

investors to profit from investment banks fees charging those companies. The study

demonstrates a standard crisis response dynamic used by financial firms, which consists

of the initial denial and counter-attack and the eventual settlement with its accusers

offering a grudging apology and a large monetary compensation as concrete evidence of

wrongdoing is presented. The authors argue that these companies attempt to make

apology but avoid legal liability; thus in contemporary discourse compensation should be

interpreted as "an argot that functions as an admission of culpability" (p. 459).

Zhang and Benoit (2004) analyze the message strategies of the Saudi Arabia's

image restoration campaign after September 11 against accusations which alleged that

Saudi supported terrorism but failed to be allies with the United States. The study

identifies denial, attacking accusers and bolstering as major image repair strategies, with

minor emphasis on defeasibility, good intentions and differentiation. The authors judge

Saudi's image repair effort as partially effective through evaluating the persuasiveness of

each strategy, supplemented with results of public opinion polls as external evidence.














CHAPTER 3
CASE BACKGROUND AND RESEARCH QUESTIONS

Emergence of the Teflon Controversy

Teflon, one of DuPont's hugely successful brands as non-stick coating, has spurred

public debate because of its close relations with a type of controversial chemical called

PFOA or C8 (the acronym of perfluorooctanoic acid and its principal salts). According to

the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)'s fact sheet, PFOA is a man-made

chemical that does not exist naturally in the environment. It is used as an essential

processing aid in the manufacture of fluoropolymers, such as the Teflon coating. As the

EPA claims, "although fluoropolymers are made using PFOA, the finished products

themselves are not expected to contain PFOA" (EPA, 2004, p. 1).

Fluoropolymers contribute important properties including fire resistance and oil,

stain, grease, and water repellency, which allow their applications to pervade almost all

industry segments and involve some world-famous consumer product brands such as

Teflon, Stainmaster, Scotchgard and Gore-Tex. As a personification of the success of

modern chemistry, PFOA was perceived as a miracle chemical which is extremely stable

and biologically inert for decades. However, a series of scientific findings released since

the late 1990s showed that PFOA could pose potential risk to human health and the

environment although considerable scientific uncertainty remains (EPA, 2005).

Perfluorochemicals (PFCs) caught the EPA's attention in 1999 in the wake of

discoveries from blood banks samples provided by the 3M Company (3M). The data

indicated that perfluorooctyl sulfonates (PFOS) is persistent, unexpectedly toxic, and









bioaccumulative, and turned up in the blood of more than 90 percent of the U.S.

population. 3M, the sole manufacturer of PFOS in the United States, announced in May

2000 it was discontinuing the production of perfluorochemicals including PFOS and

PFOA following negotiations with the EPA. It was this decision that led DuPont to

promptly announce it would begin making PFOA itself. Meanwhile, findings on PFOS

prompted the EPA to expand its investigation in June 2000 to encompass PFOA, which

also occurs in human blood samples, as to whether it might present similar concerns

associated with PFOS (EPA, 2003).

In August 2001, residents of Ohio and West Virginia living near DuPont's Teflon

manufacture plant filed a class-action lawsuit against DuPont. The suit alleged the

company of knowingly contaminating the local land, air and water supply system by

discharging PFOA without informing the community and that PFOA exposure had caused

them ill (Cortese, 2004). In September 2002, the EPA began a priority review on PFOA

as "the developmental toxicity data, the carcinogenicity data, and the blood monitoring

data presented in an interim revised hazard assessment raised the possibility that PFOA

might meet the criteria for consideration under Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA)

section 4(f) (EPA, 2003).

In April of 2003, the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a Washington-based

environmental advocacy group as well as the most vocal critic against DuPont, petitioned

the EPA to enforce federal actions against DuPont. As EWG declared, PFCs belong to

"the rogues gallery of highly toxic, extraordinarily persistent chemicals that pervasively

contaminate human blood and wildlife the world over... PFCs seem destined to supplant

DDT, PCBs, dioxin and other chemicals as the most notorious, global chemical









contaminants ever produced" (EWG, 2003). EWG alleged that DuPont had covered up

significant health and environmental monitoring results required by federal reporting

laws for almost 20 years:

The petition presented extensive evidence, based almost entirely on internal
DuPont documents, that the company withheld knowledge of drinking water
contamination with the key Teflon manufacturing ingredient, C-8, in the tap water
of the Little Hocking, Ohio, and Lubeck, West Virginia, water systems from the
time this contamination was first discovered in 1984, until 2001.

The petition also provided detailed documentation, again based on company
documents, that the company knew in 1981 (1) that pregnant women working at
DuPont's Parkersburg, West Virginia plant had high levels of C-8 in their blood; (2)
that animal studies suggested a link between C-8 and rare birth defects of the eye;
(3) that C-8 was also present in fetal cord blood, and; (4) that two of seven
pregnancies with measured C-8 in the cord blood resulted in serious birth defects of
the face and eye. The company has yet to submit data on these birth defects to the
EPA (EWG 2004).

On April 14, 2003, the EPA released a preliminary PFOA risk assessment declaring

PFOA was found very persistent in the environment, at very low levels existing both in

the environment and in the blood of the general U.S. population, and causing

developmental and other adverse effects in laboratory animals. However, "significant

data gaps were identified by the Agency, predominantly in the areas of exposure and

exposure pathways" (EPA, 2003). In order to identify and generate additional information

to strengthen the risk assessment, the EPA announced it would initiate a public process in

the hope that "complete assessment will allow the Agency to determine if additional

regulatory measures are necessary to mitigate any potential risks" (EPA, 2003).

Evolution of the Teflon Crisis

Whereas the EPA was still investigating the potential risk of PFOA without

regulating it, on July 8, 2004, announcement came out that the EPA filed an

administrative action against DuPont charging DuPont for withholding evidence it found









regarding the health and environmental concerns of PFOA since 1981 (supported by key

information disclosed from the West Virginia lawsuit). The EPA alleged that Dupont

detected PFOA in the blood of at least one female employee's baby with birth defects and

in public drinking water in its plants' neighborhood communities but the company did

not report these results. According to federal environmental laws, it was estimated that

the agency can impose over $300 million as the total penalty against DuPont (Weise,

2004).

The EPA's action in the United States quickly spread overseas through

international media. Unlike the relatively weak response in the United States and

European countries, where Teflon has been on the market for decades, an unanticipated

crisis with profound impact was triggered on another side of the globe-China. On July

9, an Internet news report released by the finance news section of SINA.com (China's

biggest and most influential Web portal) was among the first to report the issue. Entitled

U.S. EPA charges DuPont product contains health risks, the news not only cited the

EPA's administrative allegation and DuPont's denial, but also stated the EPA determined

that PFOA, a synthetic chemical used to produce Teflon, may potentially affect human

health.

Immediately following this report, news coverage on the EPA's announcement

surged on almost all major Chinese newspapers as well as on the prime time news shows

at Chinese Central Television (CCTV), China's government mouthpiece TV station.

Many news reports questioned the safety of Teflon products by headlines such as "Teflon

product may cause cancer" or "DuPont nonstick cookware may harm human health"

without stating a definite conclusion. These news reports usually mentioned the EPA's









allegations and actions, sometimes together with EWG's charges and scientific findings

disclosed by other media sources proving the harmful effect of PFOA. Chinese experts'

opinions, or reactions from other stakeholders such as consumers, nonstick cookware

manufacturers, and Chinese governmental agencies, were also cited according to specific

news focus.

Media pressure forced the Chinese government to begin its own study on the safety

of Teflon. On July 14, China State Administration of Quality Supervision and Quarantine

(SAQSQ) announced that it would start its own investigation into the health concern of

Teflon-coated cookware. At this stage, scientists or experts offered diverging opinions,

whereas SAQSQ had just initiated its investigation without giving a decisive comment.

However, the intensive news coverage already spurred a "mass panic" among Chinese

consumers, which badly hit the Chinese nonstick cookware market. Concerns about the

safety of non-stick cookware coated with DuPont Teflon material sparked consumer

boycotts, reportedly forcing many department stores such as Sogo in Beijing and

ParknShop in Guandong Province to pull all non-stick cookware from their shelves, as

well as leaving many other stores still selling Teflon cookware with sales plummeted

(AFX European Focus, 2004).

Safety concerns considerably affected Chinese Teflon cookware makers by

forcing them to either cancel or delay their new products' promotion plans. An official

from Aishida, one of the largest cookware producers and Teflon authorized

manufacturers in China, disclosed that the company suspended the promotion of its

new non-stick frying pans due to consumers' increasing anxiety about nonstick

cookware. But the official also insisted the Teflon controversy did not seriously affect









its nonstick cookware sales because 90 percent of its production is exported to other

countries (Chung, 2004).

As for Zhejiang-based Supor Cookware Company, one of the largest pressure

cooker makers in China and another Teflon authorized manufacturer, the company

initially said it was hardly affected by the bad news because most of its products are

shipped overseas. However, when the company opened flat at 12.21 RMB per share on

its trading debut on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange Market, which was far lower than

brokers' estimates of between 14 and 15 RMB, the firm attributed part of its poor

performance to the negative influence from the Teflon scare (Chung, 2004).

Heavy follow-up stories on the Teflon issue remained on the media spotlight

lasting for several months. On October 13, CAIQ released the test result declaring that

after extensive tests no PFOA residue had been discovered in the tested items. CAIQ's

test covered 28 different types of Teflon-coated pans currently sold on the Chinese

market, which were made by 18 major manufacturers with a combined market share of

more than 90 percent nationwide. Most news stories that reported the CAIQ test result

acknowledged its the authority and credibility. However, a few articles remained

skeptical about some aspects of the test result, particularly with respect to the left concern

about PFOA's environmental risk.

The crisis settled in November of 2004 with the release of Chinese government's

test result. However, considerable damage has been inflicted upon the Chinese Teflon

market as well as DuPont's reputation. Some news stories reported a still low motivation

among Chinese consumers in purchasing Teflon-coated products. According to an online

opinion poll by SINA.com on the likelihood to continue to trust and use DuPont products,









54 percent of the respondents said no, 34 percent said it would depend on specific

occasions, whereas only 12 percent chose yes (SINA.com, 2004b).

Research Questions and Hypotheses

Based on the literature review and the case background, this paper looked at the

following research questions:

RQ1: How would U.S. DuPont and DuPont China's crisis response discourse be

identified using Coombs' (2004) three-posture typology throughout the life cycle of the

Teflon crisis?

RQ2: What were the characteristics of the English language and Chinese language

news coverage of the Teflon crisis?

RQ3: How would the Teflon crisis case be interpreted by propositions of the cross-

national conflict shifting theory? Do the propositions need to be revised or are new

propositions needed to fully explain the phenomenon?

In addition to the RQ3 as a general research question, three more hypotheses were

proposed for quantitative testing:

HI: The Chinese news coverage will differ significantly from the U.S. news

coverage of the Teflon crisis in story features such as event location, story focus and

primary problem attribution.

H2: News outlets are more likely to refer to sources from their own country of

origin than sources from other country of origin.

H3: The Chinese news coverage will differ significantly from the U.S. news

coverage in narrative features such as sources cited and direct quotes used.














CHAPTER 4
METHODOLOGY

This thesis described, analyzed, and interpreted the recent DuPont Teflon crisis in

China by examining DuPont's crisis response strategies as well as the English and

Chinese language news coverage of the crisis. The credibility or fidelity of crisis

communication could be evaluated through determining the response quality in internal

coherence (Hearit, 1999; Ihlen, 2002). Thus DuPont's crisis response strategies

throughout the life cycle of the crisis were identified with Coombs' (2004) three-posture

typology. The internal consistency of DuPont's combined and changing strategies was

then discussed. The Teflon crisis case was further investigated to illustrate, support, and

expand the theory of cross-national conflict shifting (CNCS). Content analysis was

employed upon the media coverage of the Teflon crisis to test three hypotheses. The

external corroboration, or the media reception, of DuPont's crisis response discourse was

obtained through the media content analysis.

Time-Series Analysis of DuPont's Crisis Response Strategies

Online News Releases

To answer the first research question regarding DuPont's self-defense strategies,

DuPont's online news releases were retrieved from DuPont's websites in the United

States and in China (www.dupont.com.cn and www.dupont.com) on December 2, 2004.

A total of 16 non-duplicate news releases were found to involve the Teflon crisis

including ten English language and six Chinese language news releases. Among the ten

news releases on U.S. DuPont's website in reaction to the Teflon controversy, six pieces









were posted in 2003 and the rest four were posted in 2004. DuPont China's website

contained six Chinese language news releases posted in 2004 due to the Teflon crisis in

China. Half of them were the exact translation versions of English language news

releases initiated from U.S. DuPont. The rest three news releases contained messages at

least partially originated from DuPont China

A time-series identification analysis of crisis response strategies was employed

upon DuPont's online news releases to analyze DuPont's discourse during the Teflon

crisis. After examining issues involved and reading through the news releases, Coombs'

(2004) typology, which has been specifically developed for public relations research

indicating three apologia stances, was found to be the best choice to use for this study.

Thus Coombs' typology, rather than Benoit's (1995a) 14-subcategory typology, was

applied as a framework to categorize and identify DuPont's crisis response strategies.

Therefore the operationalization of crisis response strategies in this study was based

on definitions provided in Coombs' typology. Deny posture contains strategies of

clarification (denying the crisis happened and reinforcing the denial by explanations

proving otherwise), attack (attacking accusers), and shifting blame (shifting the blame to

others). Diminish posture includes deny intent/violation (claiming lack of information or

control), minimizing (downplaying the crisis damage or threat), comparison (claiming not

as bad as other similar crisis), big picture (placing the crisis in a larger and more

favorable context), and misrepresentation (claiming not as bad as what others make it out

to be). Repair posture, on the other hand, consists of strategies including suffering

(claiming itself among the victims of the crisis), bolstering (stressing the positive

characters and behaviors), praising others (praising its stakeholders to win support),









compensation (offering compensation to stakeholders), corrective action (promising

actions to prevent the crisis from future occurring), and apology (accepting responsibility

and asking stakeholders for forgiveness).

Telephone Interview

In addition, to understand the decision-making process of DuPont China's crisis

response strategies, information was gathered by a 50-minute telephone interview with

DuPont China's public affairs manager on October 27, 2004. According to the

interviewee's request, the interview was not taped but detailed notes were taken to record

the interview content in Chinese and later translated into English by the author to

illustrate DuPont China's crisis management structure and strategies. Quotes were drawn

from the interview transcript to explain DuPont's response strategies according to the

researcher's interpretation.

Quantitative Content Analysis of the Media Coverage

To answer the second and third research questions and test the three hypotheses,

quantitative content analysis was conducted on the media coverage of the Teflon crisis

generated by China, the United States, and other countries. Both English and Chinese

language news were included in the news sample. Chinese language news stories were

collected from the archival news collection featuring the Teflon issue on SINA.com.

English language news stories, on the other hand, were collected from the electronic

database LexisNexis. A total of 211 news articles including English language and

Chinese language news comprised the combined news sample. The unit of analysis was

the individual full article as each article was coded with a standard coding sheet.









Time Span

The analyzed time period was a five-month period from July 1 to November 31,

2004. This time span was chosen because the Teflon crisis essentially went through the

entire crisis phases during this period. July 1 was defined as the starting point of the

timeline because the EPA's legal action against DuPont on July 8 was the triggering

event of the crisis. November 31 was chosen as the end point for the news analysis

because after China's State Administration of Quality Supervision and Quarantine

(SAQSQ) announced the agency's test results on October 13, declaring no PFOA residue

was found in Teflon-coated cookware sold on the Chinese market, the media coverage of

DuPont Teflon issue gradually subsided in November.

Sample Profile

English language news

English language news stories were collected through the LexisNexis database

using terms of "DuPont" and "Teflon" with the "headline, lead paragraph(s)" parameter

in World News and General News (in the major newspapers category) in the above-

mentioned time frame. Articles with duplicated content were excluded as well as articles

with less than 100 words considering too little information for coding. After preliminary

screening 55 English language news articles were yielded.

As shown in Table 4-1, 36 articles (65 percent) out of 55 English language news

stories are newspapers stories, 15 articles (27 percent) were distributed by news agencies

such as China's Xinhua News Agency and Agence France Presse, while the rest are

either newswire or magazine stories. News outlets from the United States, Europe, and

China contributed 20 (36 percent), 16 (29 percent), and 11 (20 percent) stories,









respectively. The rest of the stories were initiated from Canada (5 stories) or other Asia-

Pacific countries (3 stories).

Chinese language news

Under the defined time period, news coverage in Chinese language was gathered

through SINA.com's archival news on the Teflon crisis. SINA.com was chosen to

identify Chinese articles because it is China's largest and most frequently visited Web

news portal, with 101.2 million registered users worldwide (SINA.com, 2004a). News

reports that did not focus on DuPont Teflon products were excluded, so were transcripts

of DuPont's crisis management events. The archived news after screening yielded 156

articles, including news stories and commentaries published by prominent Chinese

newspapers (national and regional), magazines, and news sites.

Table 4-1. Sample profile of English language news and Chinese language news
News Language*
English Language Chinese Language
Category and option Frequency Percentage Frequency Percentage
News Source Type
Newspaper 36 65% 135 87%
Online 25 16%
News Agency 15 27%
Newswire 3 5%
Magazine 1 2% 1 1%
Press Country Origin
China-Hong Kong 11 20% 155 99%
USA 20 36% 1 1%
Europe 16 29%
Asia-pacific 3 5%
Canada 5 9%
Number of English language news (NEL) =55; Number of Chinese language news
(NCL) =156

Among the 156 Chinese news stories, 155 stories were originated from Chinese

news outlets. The only exception was a news-abstract of USA Today's July 8 story on









EPA's allegation against DuPont and the estimated fine, which was from the U.S. news

source. The majority of stories (130 stories) were published by major Chinese

newspapers, while 25 stories were prepared by influential online sources such as

SINA.com, Xinhua Web and China News Web. In addition, there was also one magazine

story in the sample (see Table 4-1).

Coding Sheet

The coding sheet was designed to facilitate the content analysis of news stories

covering the Teflon crisis. The researcher first read through twenty articles from the news

sample (ten English language news and ten Chinese language news) dated throughout the

time span of the whole crisis phases to obtain some degree of familiarity of typical media

patterns. Based on the researcher's experience, options were developed for each variable

or category. Several tests using randomly selected news articles were conducted to

expand and revise these options until options were matured. Then these variables and

their corresponding options were included into the quantitative coding sheet. The coding

sheet was used in the pretest and finalized as required inter-coder reliability was

achieved.

Pretest and Inter-coder Reliability

To test the inter-coder reliability of the coding sheet, ten percent of the news stories

were randomly selected from the news sample and coded by the author and another

graduate student. They coded the small sample of articles independently following the

coding sheet's guidelines. The inconsistency of the coding decisions were then assessed

and discussed between the two coders. The inter-coder reliability coefficient (using

Holsti's formula, 1969) was calculated to be 87 percent. After taking off two variables

that led to the main disagreement between the two coders from the coding sheet, the









inter-coder reliability was improved to 92 percent, which confirms a relatively high level

of internal validity of the final research instrument.

Coding Category and Option

The story features of the news articles were examined through coding event

location (United States, China, both, or none of the above), main issue focus, and primary

and secondary attributions of Teflon problems. Each news article was coded as primarily

focusing on the EPA's accusation, DuPont's discourse or action, Teflon cookware

makers' discourse or action, Chinese regulation agencies' discourse or reaction,

consumer reaction or market impact, U.S. legal suit, Chinese legal suit, activist groups'

discourse or action, or others. Then the primary and secondary attributions of the nature

of Teflon-related problems were coded as Federal reporting rules dispute, PFOA/C8-related

human health or environmental risk, Teflon cookware health risk, media problem,

regulation concerns, business ethics concerns, crisis management problems, or none of

the above or not identifiable.

The narrative features of the news articles were studied by coding the number of

publics, sources and direct quotes and the selection of sources and direct quotes. Two

nominal variable sets (i.e., "0" for no and "1" for yes) were used to code a series of

players cited as sources and direct quotes, including DuPont, U.S. regulation agencies,

Chinese regulation agencies, consumers, independent scientists/experts, financial

analysts, Teflon cookware makers, activist groups, DuPont employees, DuPont

neighborhood community/residents, other media, other chemical companies, or other

sources.

DuPont's crisis discourse cited in the news article was coded as being employing

the strategies of Clarification, Attack, Shifting blame, Deny intent/violation, Minimizing,









Comparison, Big picture, Misrepresentation, Suffering, Bolstering, Praising others,

Compensation, Corrective action, and Apology, based on the definitions in Coombs'

(2004) typology. To measure the media presentation of opposing arguments, inclusion of

scientific evidence or opinion, either supportive or refutatory to Teflon-related risk, and

whether the risk was named as controversial, waere also coded. The coding sheet also

included an identification number, language in which the story was written, month and

date of publication for each news story, news source type, and news source origin of

country.

Data Analysis

Data collected were then content analyzed using SPSS 10.0 for Windows.

Frequencies and descriptive statistics were run to study the sample composition and

variable characteristics. Independent-samples t-tests, Analyses of Variance (ANOVA),

cross-tabulations, and Pearson product moment correlation were used to further test the

relationships between studied variables.














CHAPTER 5
FINDINGS

Research Question 1

How would U.S. DuPont andDuPont China's crisis response discourse be

identified using Coombs' (2004) three-posture typology throughout the life cycle of the

Teflon crisis?

Initial Response to EWG allegations in 2003

The Environmental Working Group's (EWG) harsh criticism including its PFC

review report PFCs: Global Contaminants, together with its EPA petition against DuPont

received increasing media attention. In response to EWG's allegation that PFOA and

Teflon products imposed harmful effect to human health, particularly to the health of

those child-bearing aged women and young girls, DuPont posted two news releases on its

U.S. website to counter the charges.

The March 31 news release basically employed Coombs' clarification and attack

response strategies in a refutatory manner (see Table 5-1). First, DuPont insisted that

"PFOA has been wrongfully represented as a health risk when, in fact, it has been used

safely for more than 50 years with no known adverse effects to human health."

According to DuPont, this view point was supported by "extensive scientific data,

including worker surveillance data, peer-reviewed toxicology and epidemiology studies,

and expert panel reports" while "no evidence or data" demonstrating the opposite.

As Benoit (2004) suggests, the accused organization could mitigate the damage to

its reputation by undermining the credibility of the source of allegations. In accordance









with this strategy, DuPont attacked the credibility of EWG's allegation by declaring that

the EPA documents EWG quoted were based on an "internal deliberative draft" that

should not be cited or quoted without full EPA review. DuPont also insisted the evidence

presented by EWG was unreliable considering the newly generated data, and that EWG's

conclusion was a misinterpretation of data. In addition, DuPont mentioned the company's

positive working relationship with the EPA in an effort for better knowledge of PFOA,

which could be regarded as a minor bolstering strategy to strengthen DuPont's positive

image.

Whereas the first news release slightly mentioned the safety of Teflon-branded

cookware, the following April 8 news release was specifically designed to clear the

names of the company's Teflon and Stainmaster brands. This time DuPont focused on

bolstering strategy and clarification strategy without mentioning EWG's message.

DuPont stressed its commitment to "continuously evaluating the safety of its

products and processes...as the global leader in fluorine chemistry" and "continuing to

develop a comprehensive understanding of the distribution of PFOA in its products and

in the environment." Meanwhile, DuPont asserted that Teflon-branded cookware does not

contain PFOA and other industrial products only contain "trace or non-detectable levels

of PFOA." As shown in Table 5-1, these interpretations could be identified as bolstering

and clarification strategy, respectively.

In addition, by stating the essential function of PFOA in producing "high-

performance fluoropolymers resins and finishes," DuPont used the big picture strategy to

remind the audience the higher value PFOA brings to human beings. Coombs' big

picture, or Benoit's transcendence strategy, if successfully employed, could place an










organization's allegedly wrongful act in a more favorable context by suggesting a new

frame of reference to justify the accused behavior (Benoit, 2004).

Table 5-1. Crisis response strategies employed by U.S. DuPont before the Teflon crisis
shifted to China
Response Strategies
Timeline Examples of Response Discourse (Posture)


Response to EWG's cll g,, o, (i M (March-April 2003, USA)

PFOA has been wrongfully represented as a health risk;
PFOA has been safely used by DuPont for more than 50
years;
No evidence demonstrates adverse human health effect;
Teflon cookware does not contain PFOA.

EWG's claim is based on "internal deliberate draft" that
should not be cited;
EWG's risk calculation is based on a single data point;
EWG's conclusion is misinterpretation of data.

Committed to continuously evaluating the safety of
products and process;
Extensive scientific research and testing supports the
safety of PFOA;
Actively works with EPA in research on PFOA and its
end-use consumer products.

Important societal benefits that society gains from
flouoropolymers.

Response to EPA's Preliminary Risk Assessment (April-June 2003, USA)

No evidence indicates adverse human health effects
related to low levels of exposure to PFOA;
Teflon does not contain PFOA; Cookware made with
Teflon is safe for everyday consumer and commercial
use;
Use FDA-approved methodologies,
PFOA has not been detected in Teflon cookware.

Share the EPA's desire to safeguard human health and the
environment;
Voluntarily committed to supporting EPA's research on
PFOA.

Some statements in media coverage following EPA's
April announcement by EPA calling for an investigation
of PFOA have been misleading and inaccurate.


Clarification
(Deny)




Attack
(Deny)




Bolstering
(Repair)



Big picture
(Diminish)


Clarification
with reserved
wording
(Denial)


Bolstering
(Repair)



Attack
(Deny)









Response to EPA Preliminary Risk Assessment in 2003

On U.S. DuPont's website, four news releases were posted from April through June

in 2003 in reaction to the EPA's announcement, combining response strategies of

clarification, bolstering, and attack (see Table 5-1). While reiterating the safety of Teflon-

coated cookware and supporting the EPA's current position on unregulating PFOA,

DuPont slightly changed its wording regarding PFOA in its clarification strategy. The

company claimed no evidence was found indicating that adverse human health effects

were related to "low levels of exposure" to PFOA.

Besides, DuPont continued to highlight its commitment to product safety and

environmental protection and sharing the EPA's mission to ensure human health and the

environment. DuPont reaffirmed its support for the EPA's plans to conduct a science-

based risk assessment for PFOA. The company expected such assessment would lead to

credible and reasonable regulation that assures public health and safety while allowing

the continued use of PFOA. Such discourse continued to reflect DuPont's bolstering

strategy.

In addition to clarifying some "misleading and inaccurate" statements in some

media coverage, DuPont provided Web links to its fact sheets and FAQs regarding the

safety of PFOA, Teflon-coated cookware, and related consumer products. DuPont

blamed those accusers for misinformation and inaccurate interpretations. Meanwhile, it

used big picture strategy by arguing that those accusers were ignoring the significant

societal benefits PFOA enabled.

Response to EPA Administrative Allegation in 2004

U.S. DuPont posted its response news release on its website the same day as the

EPA announced its administrative allegation on July 8, 2004. DuPont replied that it









would file a formal denial in 30 days to the EPA complaint. DuPont denied any violation

of statutory reporting requirement and asserted no legal basis for the EPA's allegation.

Instead of giving more details of counter-argument or refuting evidence, the news release

emphasized the EPA's position on unregulating PFOA in case consumers or investors

might be shaken by the announcement.

Delayed Initial Response by DuPont China in July

In contrast to the Chinese media's immediate reporting about the EPA's action on

July 9, DuPont China did not post its response news release-the translation of U.S.

DuPont's July 8 news release-until July 12 (after a weekend's break). The time delay in

releasing its headquarters' announcements, as quoted from the interview with DuPont

China's public affairs manager, was not unusual:

As a matter of fact, for news releases from U.S. DuPont, we usually would have a
time delay of a few days. Because we have a routine internal process to go through
each release, to first translate the English version to Chinese, and then confer to the
legal department for facts checking. Also, for the communication purpose, we have
to make sure in the final version we use layman terms but without mistaken
technical interpretation. So the whole process just takes time. (Telephone interview,
October 27, 2004)

DuPont China's explanation of its late response may sound reasonable. However,

the damaging effect of such delay could be significant in a crisis situation. As DuPont

China's public affairs manager admitted, when they unexpectedly found that the story

was disclosed by many Chinese media in different versions ahead of them, particularly

that some of the coverage was greatly unfavorable; the negative media impact was too

enormous to reverse. Still, they chose to post the initial release on July 12 on DuPont

China's website before deciding on the next step of action.









Late July Response to Escalated Teflon Scare

News coverage on Teflon cookware's potential human health harmful effects

escalated, while DuPont China's executives and public affairs people were still

deliberating on their crisis management plan. Despite the slow reaction in the early stage

of the Teflon crisis, DuPont recognized the seriousness of the issue and sent out a "crisis

team" comprised of senior DuPont executives from the United States, Hong Kong and

Shanghai to Beijing to determine the crisis response strategies, attend news conferences,

and meet with officials from the Chinese regulation agencies.

According to the interview with DuPont China's public affairs manager, they

believed that the crisis was caused by the Chinese media's misleading reports and

Chinese people's distrust attitude toward the safety of consumer products in general:

Because this incident was caused by the misinterpretation of the information
concerning Teflon cookware's safety, we basically want to clarify the fact so as to
remove the misunderstanding and relieve consumers' worries.

We had pretty good relationship with reporters in the past. But because of the
volatility of the reporters, some reporters covering the issue were new-comers who
were not familiar with DuPont as well as science reporting. And they don't use
cross reference. That's part of the reason some reports, especially at the beginning
stage of the incident, misinterpreted the original news from the U.S.

Many reporters didn't recognize the difference between a processing aid and a
finishing product and PFOA here is only a processing aid which doesn't exist in the
Teflon coating. And they missed the point that U.S. has different legal system from
China and that EPA's action was purely an administrative charge instead of a safety
concern.

Generally speaking, Chinese consumers right now have been easy to get agitated by
negative media reports, especially when it comes to consumer product safety.
Frequent media exposure of bad product quality and safety incidents, and of course,
the imported milk powder scare due to mad cow disease, leaves people subject to
doubt and mistrust with business. Instead, they tend to trust popular media although
these media could make mistake in the reporting and send the wrong message.
(Telephone interview, October 27, 2004)









Based on these observations, DuPont China determined that their basic message

was to clarify the misinterpreted facts and reassure general publics the safety of Teflon-

branded products. They implemented a series of recovery actions to improve

relationships with key stakeholders, with media in particular. The ultimate goal was to

ease public concerns and seek restoration in public confidence and company reputation.

These actions included active interactions with reporters, holding frequent news

conferences in China, inviting Chinese reporters to attend news conferences held in

DuPont headquarters in the United States, and cooperating with the Chinese regulation

agencies-State Administration of Quality Supervision and Quarantine (SAQSQ) and

Chinese Academy of Inspection and Quarantine (CAIQ), among others.

In particular, DuPont China employed the tool of online medium in its crisis

management efforts. DuPont China sent its Vice President together with its fluoro-

products technical manager to join an online chat tour as an opportunity to come face-to-

face with consumers. This chat tour was moderated by a facilitator from SINA.com's

chat room. This event was organized considering the increasing popularity and influence

of SINA.com's chat room among Chinese netizens. The chat tour created an easy, close

and interactive atmosphere that allowed DuPont executives to directly answer a broad

range of questions from common consumers' perspective. Moreover, it succeeded in

generating positive news coverage for DuPont in several Chinese newspapers.

Later, DuPont China authorized SINA.com as a prior portal for real-time corporate

news releasing and a platform to post complete transcripts of their news conferences.

This action, according to the DuPont public affairs manager, was initiated in the hope that

they "could make real-time releases directly to consumers without going through other









traditional media channel where reporters could somehow skew some of our original

intentions."

Interview with DuPont China's public affairs manager illustrated its guiding

principle of "active," "open," and "empathy" in crisis communication and relationship

building:

To handle the Teflon accident, we've emphasized an "active manner" and an
honest attitude throughout the management process. Instead of a "cold control"
attitude, we took initiatives to communicate with various media, such as print,
broadcasting and the Internet media, and other publics including government and
consumers.

But we understand these journalists' difficulties. They have their deadlines to meet.
We understand reporters and consumers' concern about the Teflon issue because it
involves everyone's safety and daily life. We understand that because we ourselves
would have worries and concerns if we are not informed. So when we are working
with the media, we respect their autonomy, we make sure we are friendly and
candid and give them information they need and then leave it to their decision in
their coverage rather than trying to swing their opinion.

DuPont has developed and maintained great working relationships with these
Teflon cookware manufactures. During the whole incident, they've been very
supportive, and they have confidence on DuPont and the Teflon brand. (Telephone
interview, October 27, 2004)

DuPont's active crisis management efforts had received a certain degree of

positive effects in media coverage. For example, many news reports by the Chinese

media, especially after July 20, covered DuPont's crisis management events and its

active effort in clarifying facts and communicating with its publics. Many newspapers

gave more space or favorable coverage to DuPont's positions and messages in their

follow-up stories of the Teflon crisis.

DuPont China posted one news release on its website on July 12, which was the

exact translation of DuPont U.S.'s July 8 news release. Besides, DuPont China Vice

President's July 15 chat tour with SINA.com, DuPont U.S. CEO's July 19 interview










with China Daily, DuPont China CEO's July 21 Beijing news conference, and U.S.

DuPont spokesperson's July 26 interview with China Newsweek, were also released by

the media in the form of interview transcripts. Analysis of the above discourse

illustrated that in addition to providing facts to respond to specific technical questions,

the company basically used the strategies of clarification and comparison, sticking to

the initial message held by U.S. DuPont (see Table 5-2).

Table 5-2. Crisis response strategies employed by DuPont after the conflict shifted to
China
Response Strategies
Timeline Examples of Response Discourse (Posture)


July response to EPA 's Administrative Allegttion (July 2004, USA & China)
Fully complied with EPA's reporting requirements
(USA & China).

Not about the safety of our products, it is about
administrative reporting (USA & China).


Clarification
(Deny)
Clarification/
Comparison
(Diminish)


August response to EPA's Allegation and ( C Media Allegttion (2004, USA &China)


* Fully and promptly reported to EPA all appropriate
information regarding PFOA (USA & China).

* Has been and will continue to provide industry
leadership as part of EPA's investigation (USA &
China);
* Has developed and implemented both manufacturing
technology and emissions control technology in its
plants that have reduced PFOA emissions by as much
as 99 percent (USA & China);
* Reducing PFOA emission is guided by DuPont's
strategic commitment to sustainable development
which advocates the zero release goal in its
manufacturing (China).

* Some Chinese media misinterpreted DuPont's effort
in reducing PFOA emission as related to PFOA health
risk, which was untrue and misleading (China).


* Media misinterpretation led to mass panic (China)


Clarification
(Denial)






Bolstering
(Repair)







Attack (Deny)


Shift blame
(Deny)










Table 5-2. Continued
Response Strategies
Timeline Examples of Response Discourse (Posture)
September response to West Virginia law suit settlement (September 2004, USA & China)

Pleased to reach an agreement that places the two
parties' combined priorities where they belong on Bolstering
the community and not on lengthy and contentious (Repair)
legal proceeding (USA & China).

No association between the lawsuit settlement and Clarification/
admission of liability on DuPont's part (USA & Comparison
China). (Diminish)

Pay $102.6 million to the residents and their lawyer in Compensation
cash payments and expenditures (USA & China). (Repair)

Offer C-8 water treatment facilities for area
communities (USA & China);
Create an expert panel to conduct a community study Corrective
to assist it in evaluating whether there is a probable Action (Repair)
link between C-8 exposure and any human disease
(USA & China).

October response to the release ofCAIO test results (October 2004, China)

CAIQ is the national authoritative testing institute;
Praising others
hope the result could help restore consumers ii. .
(Dimimsh)
confidence in nonstick cookware (China).


August Response to Chinese Media Allegation

However, skepticism about the safety of Teflon products lingered on the Chinese

market and so did media reports challenging DuPont's explanation. For example, when

DuPont filed its formal response on August 12 to the three accounts in the EPA

complaints, a few reports interpreted DuPont's promise to reduce 99 percent of its PFOA

emission in its manufacturing plants in the United States as acknowledging the harmful

effects of PFOA. This prompted DuPont on August 18 to hold a news conference again

and post the first news release initiated from its Beijing office on its website. DuPont

focused on clarification, attack, shifting blame, and bolstering strategies by reiterating its









previous positions to clarify the "facts" and disputing those negative associations

interpreted in some media reports (see Table 5-2). DuPont then accused the Chinese

media for inaccurately interpreting DuPont's commitment to sustainable development

and ultimate goal in "zero discharge."

September Response to U.S. Lawsuit Settlement

On September 9, DuPont agreed to settle the 2001 class-action lawsuit filed by

West Virginia residents accusing the company of contaminating drinking water supplies

with PFOA. DuPont would pay $102.6 million to the residents and their lawyer in cash

payments and expenditures. In addition, the company could pay as much as $235 million

for a medical monitoring program if the EPA determines the link between PFOA

exposure and human disease and birth defects. As part of the settlement, DuPont agreed

to offer "C-8 water treatment facilities for area communities and creation of an expert

panel to conduct a community study to assist it in evaluating whether there is a probable

link between C-8 exposure and any human disease." These actions, to some extent,

reflected compensation and corrective actions strategies (see Table 5-2).

Learning from previous lessons, when DuPont settled the West Virginia class-

action lawsuit on September 9, DuPont China posted the Chinese translation of its U.S.

news release on DuPont China's website on the same day. This news release was attached

with an announcement letter, which explained DuPont's decision and disputed any

possible unfavorable interpretations of the company's action (see Table 5-2). In DuPont's

message, the company stressed the settlement was a result of placing the combined

priorities they belong-"on the community and not on lengthy and contentious legal

proceedings" and not any "admission of liability on DuPont's part." DuPont China's

news release declared no association between DuPont's case settlement and the PFOA









reporting dispute with the EPA or the safety of Teflon-branded cookware. Meanwhile, the

news release threatened with legal actions against "biased, inaccurate or misleading"

speech by any individuals or organizations that might damage DuPont's reputation and

brand image.

October Response to CAIQ Test Result

The CAIQ test result released on October 13, to some extent, greatly relieved

DuPont as well as Chinese Teflon cookware makers because the Teflon scare had already

plunged 90 percent of their domestic sales in August and September (Business Daily

Update, 2004). In the news release posted on its website on October 14, DuPont China

welcomed the test result, praised CAIQ for its authority, and expressed hopes that the test

result would help restore consumer confidence in Teflon cookware (see Table 5-2).

According to DuPont China's public affairs manager, the Teflon crisis has

relatively limited negative impact on their business operation and Teflon products' global

market. This is because over 90 percent of Teflon cookware is exported to other countries

such as the United States, Europe, and Japan, where the markets have not been influenced

considerably. However, they were deeply concerned about the incident's damage to

DuPont's reputation and the loss of public trust in Teflon products in China:

Now test results from Chinese Academy of Inspection and Quarantine proved that
Teflon products in the market are safe so that consumers' doubt and worry would
be relieved. And we can see that gradually the media picked up the stories less and
less often. But we would still be working with these cookware companies for more
market communication to restore the public confidence in Teflon products.
(Telephone interview, October 27, 2004)

Research Question 2

What were the characteristics of the English language and Chinese language news

coverage on the Teflon crisis?









English Language News

Story month and date

As shown in Table 5-3, with respect to story date, 28 stories (51 percent) were

picked up in July which accounted for about half of the total stories. The maximum

media interest in the Teflon case in July indicated the media pressure culminated at the

beginning month of the Teflon crisis. August, September and October ran nine (16%),

seven (13%) and ten (18%) stories each, revealing the prolonging of the crisis for several

months. Only one story was found published in November and directly focusing on the

Teflon/PFOA topic, suggesting the subsidence of the crisis in November (see Figure 5-1).

Table 5-3. Story month of English language news and Chinese language news
News Language*
English Language Chinese Language
Category and option Frequency Percentage Frequency Percentage
Story Month
July 28 51% 103 66%
August 9 16% 24 15%
September 7 13% 6 4%
October 10 18% 21 13%
November 1 2% 2 1%
*NEL=55, NCL=156

In terms of story frequency published on each single day, news stories peaked on

July 9 with 12 stories, immediately after the EPA announcement of its administrative

action and potential fine against DuPont. The second hit was on September 10, the

following day of DuPont's Virginia class-action lawsuit settlement, which accounted for

five stories.

Further, when the news sample was first categorized according to the news outlet's

country origin and then compared, the frequency trends by story month slightly differed

at different country sources (illustrated in Figure 5-2). Although stories from China, the







53


United States, and Europe all peaked in July, China and Europe had the second highest

number of stories in October when Chinese regulation agencies released their Teflon

cookware test results, in contrast to the United States' second peak in September for the

West Virginia legal suit settlement. The divergent story frequency trends at different

source locations suggested certain inherent difference might exist in their news patterns.


News frequency* by month
60-


50
51

40-


30-


20-
18
16
10 13

0 __ ....___________________________
July August September October November

Date into Month
*English news sample (55 articles)


Figure 5-1. English language news frequency by story month

Story features

In terms of event location, over half of the stories (56%, 31 stories) covered topics

only related to the United States, while 36 percent of the sample covered events

associated with both the United States and China. As the news stories were grouped with

respect to their story focus, stories with the main focus on the EPA's action/discourse

accounted for the most part at 29 percent (16 stories). Stories initiated from DuPont's

action/discourse and U.S. legal suits presented 22 percent (12 stories) and 16 percent (9










stories), respectively. The rest of the stories placed their main focus on Chinese regulation

agencies' action/discourse (6 stories, 11%), consumer reaction/market impact (4 stories,

7%), Teflon cookware makers' reaction (3 stories, 6%), and others (see Table 5-4).

Analyzed from the perspective of primary problem attribution, 34 percent (19

stories) of the sample attributed the Teflon crisis to reporting rules dispute. This, to some

extent, coincided with DuPont's message with regard to the comparison strategy. Because

the examination of DuPont's response illustrated that the company seeks to frame the

conflict as an issue of federal procedure disagreement rather than of PFOA's potential

human health and environmental risk.


News frequency* by month

at Different News Source Origins
10-


8-
News Source Country
6-
6- China-Hong Kong

4- U uSA

I Europe
2-



July August September October November

Date into Month

*English news sample (55 articles)


Figure 5-2. English language news frequency by story month at different country origins

However, still 27 percent (15 stories) of the English language news sample ascribed

the problem to PFOA's potential harmful human health and environmental effect and 24










percent to the health risk of Teflon cookware. In addition, four articles mirrored DuPont's

accusation that media misinterpretation was the primary cause to the Teflon scare.

Table 5-4. Story Features of English language news and Chinese language news
News Language*
English Language Chinese Language
Category and option Frequency Percentage Frequency Percentage
Event Location
China 2 4% 58 37%
USA 31 56% 7 4%
Both 20 36% 89 57%
Other 2 4% 2 1%
Main Focus
EPA accusation 16 29% 7 4%
DuPont discourse/action 12 22% 40 26%
Teflon cookware maker 3 5% 14 9%
Chinese Reg 6 11% 31 20%
Consumer/market reaction 4 7% 27 17%
U.S. legal suits 9 16% 6 4%
Chinese legal suits 0 0% 15 10%
Activist group 1 2% 2 1%
Others 4 7% 14 9%
Primary Problem Attribution
Reporting rules dispute 19 35% 14 9%
PFOA/C8 risk 15 27% 26 17%
Teflon cookware risk 13 24% 99 63%
Media problem 4 7% 6 4%
Regulation/policy concerns 1 2% 8 5%
Business ethics concerns 3 5% 2 1%
Crisis management problems 1 1%
*NEL=55, NCL=156

In terms of secondary problem attribution, results indicated that PFOA-associated

risk accounted for about half of the stories (51 percent, 28 stories). This suggested that

those stories focusing on reporting rules dispute as the primary problem tended to choose

PFOA risk as their minor attribution. It should be noted that 13 percent of the sample (7

stories) oriented the story from the perspective of business ethics concerns, where charges









such as "covering up evidence" were used to suggest DuPont's unethical behavior in

deliberately disguising unfavorable evidence.

Narrative features

The English language news sample averaged 4.3 publics, 3.9 sources, and 2.4 direct

quotes per news story. As shown in Table 5-5, the source most frequently cited was U.S.

regulation agencies, as 95 percent (52 articles) of all stories used the EPA as an

information source. DuPont source followed at 84 percent (46 stories), wherein 32

percent (15 stories) was labeled as DuPont China branch. Other sources that were used by

over 30 percent of the stories included other media (40%), Chinese regulation agencies

(33%), and activist groups (31%).

Table 5-5. Selection of Sources in English language news and Chinese language news
News Language*
English Language Chinese Language
Category and option Frequency Percentage Frequency Percentage
Sources
DuPont 46 84% 96 62%
DuPont China 15 27% 62 40%
U.S. Reg 52 95% 63 40%
Consumers 39 25%
Chinese Reg 18 33% 74 47%
Scientists/experts 13 24% 51 33%
Financial Analysts 2 4% 5 3%
Teflon cookware maker 7 13% 51 33%
Activist groups 17 31% 17 11%
Communities 15 27% 13 8%
DuPont employees 2 4% 8 5%
Other media 22 40% 55 35%
Other chem Company 7 13% 1 1%
Other sources 16 29% 44 28%
*NEL=55, NCL=156

In addition, community/residents and experts/scientists sources were presented by

27 percent and 24 percent of the stories. On the other hand, DuPont ranked first in the









number of direct quotes cited with 1.1 quotes per article, followed by averaged 0.4 direct

quotes from U.S. regulation agencies and 0.2 quotes from activist groups.

Reception of DuPont response and presentation of arguments

As shown in Table 5-1, DuPont interpreted the EPA action as reporting rules

dispute rather than a result of EPA's concern on PFOA's human health and environmental

risk. This suggested both clarification and comparison strategies as it clarified the fact

from DuPont's perspective as well as reduced the offensiveness of the allegation against

DuPont. For the consistent purpose of the coding analysis, the coders chose to code the

message into the clarification strategy category in priority.

Following this criterion, as the English language news stories cited DuPont's

discourse, 64 percent (35 articles) of the news chose quotes reflecting clarification

strategy. Another strategy commonly received by the media was bolstering strategy

illustrated by 30 percent (16 articles) of the stories. Shifting blame and big picture

equaled withl2.7 percent (7 stories) each, followed by praising others at 3.6 percent (2

stories). Both attack and compensation strategies were suggested by only one story at 1.8

percent of the entire sample.

In terms of presenting arguments from Pro-PFOA side and Anti-PFOA side, Anti-

PFOA side slightly won over. 84 percent of the stories contained claims supporting the

safety of Teflon/PFOA while 20 percent provided concrete evidence supporting this

claim. In comparison, 95 percent of the sample presented refutatory statements while 53

percent offered scientific test results. When interpreting these tests, most stories (67%)

didn't notify the inconclusiveness, or scientific uncertainty, of the available test results.

Notedly, within the stories suggesting the limitation of current scientific findings, 72

percent were balanced at presenting arguments from both sides.







58



Correlation findings

Correlation results were generated through running Pearson product moment test.


Correlations were found between article length and number of sources, article length and


number of publics, as well as article length and number of direct quotes. As shown in


Table 5-6, high correlations existed between article length and number of sources


(r=.728, p<.000), and between article length and number of direct quotes (r=0.829,


p<0.000), while a moderate correlation was found between article length and number of


publics (r=0.679, p<.000). In addition, the longer the article the more DuPont direct


quotes were cited in English language news (r=.573, p<.000, moderate).


Table 5-6. Correlation test of article length by number of publics, sources, direct quotes,
and DuPont direct quotes (English language news)
Correlations
Number of
Number Number of Number of DuPont Direct
Length-Words of Publics Sources Direct Quotes Quotes
Length-Words Pearson Correlation 1.000 .679* .728* .829* .573*
Sig. (2-tailed) .000 .000 .000 .000
N 55 55 55 55 55
Number of Publics Pearson Correlation .679* 1.000 .856* .519* .500*
Sig. (2-tailed) .000 .000 .000 .000
N 55 55 55 55 55
Number of Sources Pearson Correlation .728* .856* 1.000 .607* .477"
Sig. (2-tailed) .000 .000 .000 .000
N 55 55 55 55 55
Number of Direct Quotes Pearson Correlation .829* .519* .607* 1.000 777"
Sig. (2-tailed) .000 .000 .000 .000
N 55 55 55 55 55
Number of DuPont Direct Pearson Correlation .573* .500* 4 .477* .777* 1.000
Quotes Sig. (2-tailed) .000 .000 .000 .000
N 55 55 55 55 55
Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (2-tailed).



Chinese Language News

Story month and date

In this Chinese language news collection, 66 percent of the news articles (103


stories) appeared on the print media in July marking the crisis outset and climax. In


August, the media interest dropped considerably and the sample yielded 24 stories (15







59


percent). The press pressure further subdued with only six stories in September. However,

the release of Teflon cookware test result by the Chinese regulation agencies led to 21 (13

percent) stories, which somewhat revived the press interest and prolonged the press

coverage of the Teflon topic. November news on the Teflon topic only amounted to two

stories, demonstrating the seemingly end of the Teflon crisis (see Table 5-3 and Figure 5-

3).


News frequency* by month
120

100- 103

80-

60-

40-

S 20- 24 21
0--
July August September October November

Date into Month
*Chinese news sample (156 stories)


Figure 5-3. Chinese news frequency by story month

Story features

In the Chinese language news sample, 89 articles pertained to both the U.S. and

Chinese stakeholders which accounted for 57 percent of the entire sample. Besides, 58

stories (37 percent) only involved China, while seven articles (4.5%) covered stories only

related to the United States. Stories focusing on DuPont's discourse/action took the lead

in main focus with 26 percent (40 articles), followed by Chinese regulation agencies'

discourse/action at 20 percent (31 articles) and Consumer reaction/market impact at 17









percent (27 stories). Chinese legal suits, Teflon cookware makers' discourse/action, and

the EPA's accusation presented 9.6 percent (15 stories), 9.0 percent (14 stories), and 4.5

percent (7 stories), respectively (see Table 5-4).

Among 156 stories, 99 stories were recognized as to primarily attribute the Teflon

crisis to the human health risk associated with Teflon nonstick cookware, followed by

human health and environmental risk presented by PFOA/C8 (26 stories, 16.7%). Only

9.0 percent of the sample (14 stories) focused on reporting rules dispute as the problem

nature. This was in sharp contrast with the findings from the English news sample,

wherein the majority of stories ascribed reporting rules disagreement as the primary

nature. This distinction in media frames between the United States and China indicated,

to some extent, both the cause and the effect of the change of crisis nature when the

Teflon crisis shifted from the United States to China.

It should be recognized that eight articles ascribed regulation/policy concerns as the

primary nature of the Teflon scare. The target issues and narrative tone illustrated by

these articles reflected the existence as well as boundary of mild media criticism in China

on domestic regulation systems. Although the freedom and influence of media over

domestic public agenda was very restricted, its sheer existence might seem promising

compared to the past.

Considering secondary attribution of problem nature, PFOA-C8 risk occupied the

first place at 32 percent with Teflon cookware risk ranked second at 15 percent. The rest

included regulation concerns at 7.7 percent and business ethics concerns at 7.1 percent.

Narrative features

The Chinese language news sample averaged 4.4 publics, 3.4 sources and 1.5 direct

quotes per article. DuPont source ranked first as the most frequently used source by the









Chinese print media, when 96 stories (61.5%) cited DuPont's position (62 stories

identified the specific DuPont source as the DuPont China branch). In contrast, 48

percent and 40 percent of the news stories referred to Chinese regulation agencies and

U.S. regulation agencies for their facts and opinions, respectively. Other media (35%),

experts/scientists (33%), Teflon cookware makers (33%), and consumers (25%) were also

on the commonly cited source list, illuminating their key roles in the crisis evolution (see

Table 5-5). In terms of number of direct quote, DuPont source topped again with an

average 0.53 direct quote each article. Teflon cookware maker ranked second at 0.24,

followed by experts/scientists and consumers at 0.13 each.

Reception of DuPont response and presentation of arguments

Similar to the English language news sample, the Chinese language news sample

also yielded clarification strategy (85 articles, 54.5%) and bolstering strategy (81 stories)

as the most discernable crisis response strategies employed by DuPont. Although a few

articles also cited DuPont quotes that suggested strategies of shifting blame, attack,

suffering, and praising others, the low frequency of occurrences (less than 5 percent)

indicated relatively slim media reception.

However, in the Chinese news, arguments supporting the safety of Teflon/PFOA

almost tied with those in the refutatory position in terms of occurring frequency, both in

forms of evidence and simple statements. 70 percent of the articles cited claims in

support of Teflon safety whereas 72 percent cited refutatory opinions. Similarly, 26

percent articles contained supportive evidence reflecting DuPont's stand as 21 percent

presented evidence for the opposite side. Only 16 percent of the entire sample described

the PFOA tests in scientific uncertainty terms, thereof 9.0 percent framed the issue from

both sides in a relatively balanced manner.









Research Questions 3

How would the Teflon crisis case be interpreted by propositions of the cross-

national conflict shifting theory? Do the propositions need to be revised or are new

propositions needed to fully explain the phenomenon?

DuPont's Teflon crisis in China was initiated from the U.S. EPA's administrative

action against DuPont in the United States. For the most part, in the United States, it

involved concerns on PFOA's human health and environmental risk controversy.

However, the controversy changed nature in China where it triggered a consumer product

safety crisis in a lot greater scale and scope. The EPA's administrative action, EWG's

allegation against DuPont, and DuPont's actions, not only affected publics in the United

States (its home country where it is headquartered), but also had an impact internationally

because DuPont's products are developed, manufactured, and consumed around the

world. The conflict in the United States shifted internationally when the media reported

the situation to publics in other country [proposition 9].

Molleda and Connolly-Ahern (2002, p. 4) suggested that "this impact seems to be

greater at the home country involved, which could be explained by the relevance and

proximity of organization for the home publics." Although this may still hold true for the

general situations, in this specific case, the conflict resulted in a stronger impact in the

host country-China, where it turned into a consumer product crisis and raised heavy

public pressure. Indeed, DuPont's Teflon crisis in China symbolizes a category of

reversed cross-national conflict shifting (CNCS) phenomenon. As the Teflon crisis case

illustrated, the conflict, which involves a TNC, shifts from a home country to a host

country through international media; and results in greater impact in the host country.

The impact could potentially lead to repercussions in the corporation's home country.









Three hypotheses were tested by the combined sample of the English language and

Chinese language news.

Hypothesis 1

The Chinese news coverage will differ significantly from the U.S. news coverage of

the Teflon crisis in story features such as event location, story focus and primary problem

attribution. (Supported)

Cross-tabulation results indicated U.S. and Chinese news coverage differed

significantly in terms of event location (X2 (3, N=166) =115.892, p<.000) (see Table 5-7

and Figure 5-4). U.S. media covered significantly greater news topics related only to the

United States, whereas Chinese news tended to cover Teflon stories associated with both

the United States and China. This is reasonable because Chinese media usually cited the

U.S. EPA or U.S. DuPont's information as the context of the Teflon concerns. Besides,

followed-up U.S. news on the Teflon case had resulted in greater impact in China than

vice versa.

Table 5-7. Event location in the Chinese news and U.S. news coverage
News Source Country of Origin*
Chinese Press U.S. Press
% in Chinese
Frequency Frequency % in U.S. news
Category and option news
China 59 35% 1 5%
Events
USA 7 4% 19 90%
Location
Both 98 59% 1 5%
*NCP=166; NUP=21

Significant difference was also found in the main focus (X2 (8, N=187) =69.557,

p<.000) and main problem attribution (X2 (6, N=31) =49.956, p<.000) between stories

originated from the Chinese and U.S. news media. As shown in Table 5-8, Chinese news

stories adopted a greater variation in terms of main focus. In particular, DuPont







64


discourse/action (26%), Chinese regulation agencies discourse/action (20%), consumer

reaction/market impact (17%), Teflon cookware makers' discourse/action (10%), and

Chinese legal suits (9.0%) represented the most popular story focus in the Chinese news

coverage.


100

90
80-



60-
59


40-



20- News Source Country

| ,JChir.-. Media Source

0 U I __I IU.S. Media Source
China USA China & USA

Events Coverage Location

Figure 5-4. Event location in the Chinese and U.S. news coverage

In contrast, the majority of U.S. news stories chose to focus on either the EPA's

action (33%) or legal suits in the United States (39%) (see Table 5-8). In terms of primary

problem attribution, a significantly higher percentage of Chinese news stories (64%)

attributed the Teflon crisis to Teflon cookware's human health concern than U.S. stories

did. It was found that U.S. media stories mainly referred to either federal reporting rules

dispute (43%) or human health and the environmental concerns raised upon PFOA (52%)

as the problem origins. These trends were further demonstrated in Figure 5-5 and Figure

5-6.










Table 5-8. Main focus and primary problem attribution in the Chinese and U.S. news
coverage


Category and option
Main Focus
EPA accusation
DuPont discourse/action
Teflon cookware maker
Chinese Reg
Consumer/market reaction
U.S. legal suits
Chinese legal suits
Activist group discourse
Others
Primary Problem Attribution
Reporting rules dispute
PFOA/C8 risk
Teflon cookware risk
Media problem
Regulation/policy concerns
Business ethics concerns
Crisis management problems
*NCP=166; NUP=21


50


40-
3
30- 33

20-


10-

I --K I",


News Source Country of Origin*
Chinese Press U.S. Press
Frequency Percentage Frequency Percentage


4%
26%
10%
20%
17%
4%
9%
1%
8%


8%
16%
64%
4%
5%
1%
1%


33%
10%





38%


5%
14%


43%
52%





5%


News Source Country

[Dl I..' l ,i : Source
I l.S. Media Source


Main Focus

Figure 5-5. Main focus in the Chinese and U.S. news coverage













60-

50- 52

40- 43

30-

20- News Source Country
16
S10- jCh.r.ne Media Source
U
0 U_ I i 1 U.S. Media Source






Primary Problem Attribution

Figure 5-6. Primary problem attribution in the Chinese and U.S. news coverage

Hypothesis 2

News outlets are more likely to refer to sources from their own country of origin

than sources from other country of origin. (Supported)

The origin of news media was crosstabulated with the type of sources with national

characteristics, including DuPont China, Chinese regulation agencies, and U.S. regulation

agencies, between Chinese news and American news coverage. American news contained

significantly less use of DuPont China source (X2 (1, N=187) =14.154, p<.000), less use

of Chinese regulation agencies source (X2 (1, N=187) =15.048, p<.000), but more use of

U.S. regulation agencies source (X2 (1, N=187) =20.541, p<.000), than news from China

did (see Table 5-9).

Hypothesis 3

The Chinese news coverage will differ significantly from the U.S. news coverage in

narrative features such as sources cited and direct quotes used. (Partially supported)











Independent-samples T-tests were run to explore the use pattern of sources and


direct quotes by the Chinese and U.S. media. It was found the Chinese media used fewer


sources as well as direct quotes than their U.S. counterparts (See Table 5-10 and Figure 5-


7).


Table 5-9. Use of sources with national character in the Chinese and U.S. news coverage
News Source Country of Origin*
Chinese Press U.S. Press

Category and option Frequency % in Chinese news Frequency % in U.S. news
Source with national character
DuPont China 70 42% 0 0%
Chinese Reg 82 49% 1 5%
U.S.Reg 71 43% 20 95%
*NCP=166; NUP=21


Table 5-10. T-test for the number of sources and direct quotes used in the Chinese and
U.S. news coverage

Group Statistics

News Source Std. Error
Country of Origin N Mean Std. Deviation Mean
Number of Sources China-Hong Kong 166 3.43 2.14 .17
USA 21 4.19 2.16 .47
Number of Direct Quotes China-Hong Kong 166 1.53 2.00 .15
USA 21 3.52 2.42 .53

Independent Samples Test
Levene's Test for
Equality of Variances t-test forEquality of Means
95% Confidence
Interval of the
Mean Std Error Difference
F Sig t df Sig (2-tailed) Difference Difference Lower Upper
Number of Sources Equal variances assumed 033 857 1 540 185 125 76 50 1 74 21
Equal varances not-1 527 25211 139 76 50 -179 27
assumed
Number of Direct Quotes Equal variances assumed 2229 137 4 207 185 000 1 99 47 -2 93 1 06
Equal variances not -3621 23566 001 1 99 55 313 86
assumed


An average of 3.43 sources and 1.53 quotes were used by the Chinese media,


whereas averaged 4.19 sources and 3.52 quotes were cited by the U.S. news coverage.


The T-test results indicated although no significant difference existed in the use of


sources between Chinese and U.S. news at a medium effect size (t (187) =-1.54, p=. 125


(two tailed), d=-.35), Chinese media cited significantly fewer direct quotes than the U.S.











media at a large effect size (t (187) =-4.21, p<.000 (two tailed), d=-.90). This result may


indicate that reporters generally have better source access in the United States than in


China. However, this may also due to the fact that some inherent differences exist in


reporting routines and narrative styles between Chinese and U.S. newsrooms.


Besides sources with clear national characteristics discussed in Hypothesis 2, other


differences in terms of preferred sources were found between news media originated


from China and those from the United States (see Table 5-11, Figure 5-8 and Figure 5-9


for selection of sources by Chinese and U.S. media).


4.5-

4.0-

3.5-

3.0-

2.5-

2.0-

O Number of Sources
1.5-
I Number of Direct Quo
S1.0 ___ tes
China Media Source U.S. Media Source

News Source Country of Origin

Figure 5-7. Mean of number of sources and direct quotes in the Chinese and U.S. news
coverage

Cross-tabulation of selection of individual source by news media origin suggested


that the Chinese media used significantly less DuPont source, X2 (1, N=187) =4.373,


p=.037, activist groups source, X2(1, N=187) =31.296, p<.000, and community/residents


source, X2 (1, N=187) =33.072, p<.000. On the other hand, the Chinese media cited


significantly greater consumers source, X2 (1, N=187) =6.234, p=.013, Teflon cookware


makers source, X2 (1, N=187) =10.373, p=.001, and other media source, X2 (1, N=187)


=8,862, p=.003.







69


Table 5-11. Selection of sources in the Chinese and U.S. news coverage
News Source Country of Origin*
Chinese Press U.S. Press

Category and option Frequency Percentage Frequency Percentage
Sources
DuPont 104 63% 18 86%
DuPont China 70 42%
U.S. Reg 71 43% 20 95%
Consumers 39 23%
Chinese Reg 82 49% 1 5%
Scientists/experts 53 32% 8 38%
Financial Analysts 5 3% 1 5%
Teflon cookware makers 57 34%
Activist groups 17 10% 12 57%
Communities/residents 13 8% 11 52%
DuPont employees 9 5% 1 5%
Other media 62 37% 1 5%
Other chem Company 1 1% 5 24%
Other sources 48 29% 8 38%
*NCP=166, NUP=21


100

90-

80-

70-

60- 63

50 _
49
40-

30- 3 3-4

20- 2-
4-,
1 1 0-

S 10 ....


Figure 5-8. Selection of sources in the Chinese news coverage







70



100

95

80- 86



60-
57
52
40-
38 38


20- 24
4-,

% 0 ki








Figure 5-9. Selection of sources in the U.S. news coverage

The significant difference in source selection may indicate distinct news focus

adopted by the Chinese and U.S. news coverage as well as the innate difference of key

stakeholders involved in the conflict between the two countries.

In addition to testing the three hypotheses discussed above, ANOVA test was used

to examine the Chinese language news sample in terms of different event locations. Table

5-12 suggests at the p<.05 level, news covering both the United States and China used

significantly more sources (averaged 3.93) than those covering only China (averaged

2.71) and the United States (averaged 2.0) (df=2/151, f=7.644, 2=.001). Similarly, news

covering the two country locations involved significantly more publics (averaged 5.01)

than those covering only China (averaged 3.74) and the United States (averaged 1.57)

(df=2/151, f=21.590, p<.000).










Such a relationship also applied to the number of direct quotes cited in the news.

Stories covering the two country locations, China, and the United States used an average

of 2.31, 0.76 and 0.14 direct quotes, respectively (df=2/151, f=11.018, 2<.000).

Table 5-12. One-way ANOVA for number of publics, number of sources, and number of
direct quotes grouped by event location in the Chinese news coverage
ANOVA
Sum of
Squares df Mean Square F Sig.
Number of Publics Between Groups 114.332 2 57.166 21.590 .000
Within Groups 399.824 151 2.648
Total 514.156 153
Number of Sources Between Groups 66.783 2 33.392 7.644 .001
Within Groups 659.613 151 4.368
Total 726.396 153
Number of Direct Quotes Between Groups 80.536 2 40.268 11.018 .000
Within Groups 551.860 151 3.655
Total 632.396 153


Based on the finding above, an additional hypothesis was proposed as below:

Hypothesis 4

News covering multiple countries as event locations will involve more publics and

use more sources and direct quotes than news covering one single country. (Supported)

This hypothesis was supported by ANOVA test at the p<.05 level. In the combined

news sample, news covering both the United States and China contained significantly

more publics (df=2/204, f=23.939, 2<.000), more sources (df=2/204, f=10.300, 2<.000)

and more direct quotes (df=2/204, f= 1.216, p<.000) than those covering only China or

the United States (see Table 5-13). These relationships were further demonstrated by the

mean plots of number of publics, number of sources, and number of direct quotes by

event location in Figure 5-10, Figure 5-11, and Figure 5-12.









72




Table 5-13. One-way ANOVA for number of publics, number of sources, and number of

direct quotes grouped by event location in the combined news sample

ANOVA

Sum of
Squares df Mean Square F Sig.
Number of Publics Between Groups 127.269 2 63.635 23.939 .000
Within Groups 542.276 204 2.658
Total 669.546 206
Number of Sources Between Groups 81.232 2 40.616 10.300 .000
Within Groups 804.459 204 3.943
Total 885.691 206
Number of Direct Quotes Between Groups 86.327 2 43.163 11.216 .000
Within Groups 785.103 204 3.849
Total 871.430 206


5.0-



4.5-



4.0-


-o
E
S3.5-
z


" 3.0


Events Coverage Location

Figure 5-10. Mean plot of number of publics by event location


4.5




4.0 4.1




S3.5


o5 3.2

E 3.0
z


I 2.7
2 2.5 ,
China USA Both

Events Coverage Location

Figure 5-11. Mean plot of number of sources by event location


5.1











3.7


3.3









73




2.5




2.1 2.2
2.0-








.5
0


o 1.5




E
z
0

rS .5 ____
5 --

China USA Both


Events Coverage Location

Figure 5-12. Mean plot of number of direct quotes by event location














CHAPTER 6
DISCUSSION

Summary of the Teflon Case

This descriptive and interpretive study examined the DuPont Teflon crisis evolution

in China in terms of the interaction between DuPont's crisis response actions and

strategies and the global media coverage. Before turning into a crisis, DuPont's Teflon

products emerged as an issue in the late 1990s and were challenged by the EPA's

investigation into PFOA, the environmental group EWG's criticism, and the West

Virginia class-action lawsuit against DuPont. U.S. DuPont was found denying the charges

consistently, which was acceptable in a situation as no conclusive evidence had been

reached demonstrating the company should assume the responsibility or be blamed.

However, as the news of the EPA's administrative action against DuPont in July of 2004

was transmitted through international media, the initial conflict in the United States

shifted to China by heavy Chinese media coverage, trigging a consumer product crisis in

a greater scale.

The study found DuPont China unprepared for the crisis in terms of early signal

detection and prompt initial response. The escalated media coverage before DuPont

China organized efficient crisis management actions spurred "mass panic" and consumer

boycotts, which badly hit the Chinese Teflon cookware market. Further analysis

suggested that DuPont China subsequently implemented a series of crisis management

actions and strategies in accordance with U.S. DuPont's positions, which were partially

corroborated by the Chinese media coverage. However, the damage to DuPont's









reputation and the loss of consumer confidence due to its crisis response lapses in the

early stage could be hard to measure or to recover from in the short term.

Summary of DuPont's Crisis Response Strategies

Apologia Objective and Combined Response Strategies

Based on the information provided by the analysis of news releases and the

interview with DuPont's public affairs manager, the company's decision-making

process and its response strategies were found reflecting Hearit's (1994) first

organizational apologia objective. DuPont offered a competing narrative with respect

to the unfavorable perceptions held by its stakeholders to redefine the alleged acts to

less offensiveness. To reach this objective, the company employed a strategy mix

mainly combining clarification, comparison, and bolstering strategies, supplemented

by strategies of attack, shift blame, and praising others based on Coombs' (2004) crisis

response typology.

By clarification and comparison, DuPont denied all the charges and stressed the

EPA's action was due to some reporting rules dispute rather than concerns about

PFOA's human health and environmental risk, or any safety concern about Teflon

products (see Table 5-2). Apart from these, as DuPont settled the West Virginia class-

action lawsuit and offered monetary compensation and water treatment facilities,

DuPont interpreted its decision as a result of benign purpose for the good of the

neighboring community and not admission of apology, compensation, or corrective

action. As shown in Table 5-2, bolstering strategy was another commonly employed

strategy which appeared side-by-side with clarification strategy. DuPont applied

bolstering to improve the company's positive image by highlighting its reputation of a

socially responsible corporate citizen.









Supplementary strategies employed by DuPont included attack, shift blame and

praising others (see Table 5-2). DuPont initially attacked the EWG for misinterpreting

the EPA's risk assessment data about PFOA. As the conflict shifted to China with

heavy Chinese media coverage, DuPont subsequently attacked the local media for

misinformation. The company attributed the cause of the Teflon scare in China to the

Chinese media's inaccurate and unfair interpretations, attempting to shift the blame to

the Chinese media. After CAIQ released favorable test results, DuPont praised the

Chinese regulation agencies for their credibility and authority in the matter. Praising

others was used to maintain a good relationship with the Chinese regulation agencies,

as well as to repair relationships with the media and the general publics from the

Chinese government's endorsement.

Internal Coherence

Ihlen (2002) suggested assessing the argumentative/structural coherence, material

coherence, and characterological coherence of organizational apologia. According to

Ihlen, argumentative/structural coherence could be achieved by analyzing the studied

organization's output discourse throughout the life cycle of the crisis. The organization's

performance in responding to the facts, arguments, and positions presented in the media

coverage demonstrates the response's material coherence. On the other hand, the

organization's behavior in clinging to its initial narration of the problem reflects the

apologia's characterological coherence.

Argumentative/structural coherence

Argumentative/structural coherence emphasizes the internal logic of the

crisis response (Ihlen, 2002). In the Teflon crisis case, the potential human health and

environmental risk of PFOA is still in a complex scientific debate, as no conclusive









evidence is available that is acknowledged by the whole scientific community. The

EPA has not been able to fully ascertain PFOAs harmful effects to human health and

the cause of the chemical's wide existence in human blood samples and the

environment. Based on Sellnow's and Ulmer's (2004) discussion about the inherent

ambiguity of crisis communication, DuPont's denial stance is argumentatively

acceptable in such a situation with the lack of conclusive evidence. The same reasoning

also approves DuPont China's denial statements before CAIQ released its test results,

especially given that the results eventually supported DuPont's denial of PFOA's

existence in Teflon products.

Further, when combining strategies, DuPont took multiple strategies from

Coombs' (2004) denial and repair postures. The analysis of these strategies illustrated

that the company managed to mix different crisis response strategies without sending

out contradictory information. This also confirms good argumentative coherence of

organizational apologia.

Material coherence

Material coherence of organization apologia requires the accused organization

not to "overlook important facts, counterarguments, or relevant issues" (Ihlen, 2002, p.

192). In the Teflon case, DuPont faced different allegations due to different concerns

from stakeholders in the United States and in China.

In the United States, DuPont was accused of manufacturing harmful products and

covering up unfavorable test results by the environmental group EWG The company was

blamed for knowingly contaminating the water supplies of the neighboring community

by plaintiffs in the West Virginia class-action lawsuit. Then it was charged of failing to

submit information required the EPA according to federal reporting rules. As shown in









the study, U.S. DuPont responded to these charges promptly and consistently, providing

competing arguments favorable to the company.

Unlike in the United States where Teflon products have been approved by the

FDA and used by consumers for decades without safety concerns, Teflon cookware

raised strong suspects in China due to concerns with its safety quality. The analysis

found that key stakeholders in China such as the Chinese regulation agencies, the

media, and consumers primarily attributed the Teflon problem to the human health

risks of Teflon cookware (see Table 5-7).

In this cross-national conflict shifting (CNCS) case, the different social and

cultural contexts between the United States and China have resulted in the added

difficulty in crisis response. Whereas U.S. regulations agencies' approval on Teflon

products might not be respected and accepted as their Chinese counterparts' decisions

could effect, their allegations against DuPont on reporting rules violation added to

Chinese people's confusion on the Teflon issue. This requires DuPont China to respond

to the specific concerns from its stakeholders in China. Although delayed in the initial

response, DuPont China, for the most part, managed to offer appropriate responses to

answer charges from its targeted audiences in China.

Characterological coherence

Since CNCS cases involve multiple countries, the evaluation of the

organization's characterological coherence has to take into consideration of the

potential contradiction between discourse from the company's headquarters and its

local branch in a host country. In the Teflon crisis case, DuPont's Chinese branch was

found keeping its crisis response very consistent with the original messages employed

by U.S. DuPont. Table 5-2 shows the response strategies DuPont employed after the









conflict shifted to China, which could be compared to the initial responses adopted by

U.S. DuPont in 2003 (see Table 5-1). Throughout the entire Teflon crisis stages,

DuPont denied the existence of PFOA in any Teflon-branded cookware and any

violation of reporting rules, suggesting good characterological coherence of its self-

defense discourse.

External Corroboration/Media Reception

Content analysis of the English and Chinese language news coverage of the

Teflon crisis was used to study the external corroboration of DuPont's crisis response

strategies. For the purpose of assessing media reception, the author suggested defining

the news reception ranging above 60 percent as high, between 20-60 percent as

moderate, between 5-20 percent as low, between 1-5 percent as slim, and below 1

percent as no reception. Based on this criterion, the content analysis finding concerning

DuPont's response strategies was illustrated through Table 6-1.

Table 6-1. Media reception of DuPont's crisis response strategies
Media Reception
DuPont's Crisis English Language News Chinese Language News
Response Strategies Percentage Evaluation Percentage Evaluation
Clarification (including 640 High 540 Moderate
Copa.sn)64% High 54% Moderate
Comparison)
Bolstering 30% Moderate 52% Moderate

\,t/imi blame 13% Low 4% Slim

Big picture 13% Low <1% No

Praising others 4% Slim 2% Slim

Attack 2% Slim 4% Slim

Compensation 2% Slim <1% No

Suffering <1% Slim 4% Slim









As indicated in the table, clarification (including comparison) was the best

received strategy cited in the news coverage. This partly reflects DuPont's insistence

on clarifying facts as its prime goal when interacting with reporters considering the

company's unique organizational culture. On the other hand, the media are more

willing to cite factual information if available, while clarification and comparison

strategies are more likely to contain seemingly concrete arguments. Moreover,

DuPont's bolstering was moderately accepted in both the English language and

Chinese language news coverage. Specifically, the Chinese language news accepted

DuPont's message that stressed its positive characteristics better than the English

language news. This could, to some extent, demonstrate DuPont China's active crisis

communication efforts after the crisis scope alerted the company.

Further, it should be noted that shifting blame and attack strategies were accepted

poorly by the media coverage. This indicates that DuPont's accusation against the

Chinese media for inaccurate reporting were not accepted by the Chinese media and

generally ignored in the Chinese language news.

Attacking the media in a crisis situation might prove ineffective because the

charge tends to be rejected by the media coverage. Also, the attack could potentially

endanger the relationship between the organization and the media which represent a

key stakeholder in a crisis situation. However, this does not necessarily mean a

company under the media attack could not fire back. In this case specifically, DuPont's

allegation against the Chinese media was at least received partially by the English

language news coverage. This may indicate that news media outlets are more willing to









include allegations of a corporate crisis in terms of unfair coverage by news media

outlets from other countries as a controversial aspect of a transnational conflict.

A Reversed Cross-national Conflict Shift

The examination of the Teflon crisis case under the framework of Molleda et al.'s

(2005) cross-national conflict-shifting (CNCS) theory illustrated a reversed conflict shift

phenomenon: the conflict involving a transnational corporation (TNC) shifts from a home

country (USA) to a host country (China) through international media, and results in

greater impact in the host country. The impact could potentially lead to repercussions in

the corporation's home country.

The study tested four hypotheses. The results supported the first hypothesis that the

Chinese news coverage differed significantly from the U.S. news coverage of the Teflon

crisis in story features such as event location, story focus and primary problem

attribution. The Chinese news covered significantly more events involving both China

and the United States, whereas the U.S. news tended to focus on issues only related to the

United States. In terms of story focus, Chinese news covered a more diverse range of

topics while the majority of U.S. news chose to focus on either the EPA's action or legal

suits. Considering the primary attribution of Teflon problems, a significantly higher

percentage of Chinese news ascribed the Teflon crisis to Teflon products' safety concerns

than the U.S. news did. In contrast, the U.S. news coverage mainly referred the problem

to either federal reporting rules disputes or PFOA's human health and environmental risk.

The second hypothesis was also supported that news outlets were more likely to

refer to sources from their own country of origin than sources from other country of

origin. This is reasonable because the media tend to rely on sources reflecting local

characters considering the news values of proximity and prominence.









The findings partially supported the third hypothesis that the Chinese news

coverage differed significantly from the U.S. news coverage in narrative features such as

sources cited and direct quotes used. The Chinese news coverage was found using fewer

sources and direct quotes than the U.S. news. The Chinese press cited significantly fewer

direct quotes than its U.S. counterpart. However, the study found no significant

difference in the number of sources used. This result may indicate reporters in the United

States have better source access than those in China, especially considering the emphasis

on transparency in the entire U.S. social system. In addition, significant difference was

found in terms of preferred sources, indicating the distinct news focus as well as key

stakeholders involved in the conflict between the two countries.

Further tests on the coding data yielded an additional hypothesis. The fourth

hypothesis was supported that news covering multiple countries as event locations

involved more publics and used more sources and direct quotes than news covering one

single country.

Based on the findings from the examination of DuPont's crisis response discourse

and the content analysis of the news coverage, multiple factors were found contributing

to such a reversed CNCS phenomenon. The author suggested discussing the distinct

outcome of the DuPont Teflon crisis from three perspectives: the crisis management

performance of the involved TNC, the level of media interest in the involved issue, and

the unique and complicated social and cultural context of the involved country.

Crisis Management Performance

An important factor that aggravated the crisis was DuPont China's crisis

management lapses-the unpreparedness in crisis prevention and quick response. The









failure in early signal detection and delay in initial response subjected the company to an

unfavorable situation facing negative perceptions by its stakeholders.

As the case revealed, the PFOA controversy was originated several years ago. The

company's U.S. headquarters had handled the problem rather smoothly, equipped with

ample response materials such as news releases, fact sheets, position statements, and

relevant Web links. The Chinese branch could have performed a lot better had the

company implemented an efficient crisis management mechanism integrated across

nations. However, the company obviously failed to anticipate the possibility that the

media in a geographically remote host country could react this strongly to an unfavorable

news story from another side of the globe.

Moreover, the interview with its public affairs manager revealed the inherent

barriers in DuPont's organizational structure, which could slow the information flow and

dissemination in cross-border practices. Consequently, DuPont China failed to recognize

the problem signal and react fast enough to the critical coverage by the domestic media. It

is normal that news media outlets tend to rely on more accessible sources and interpret a

story from a more sensational perspective, which in turn, resulted in the elevation of the

crisis scope.

As demonstrated from the findings, DuPont China later acknowledged the

seriousness of the situation and actively employed turnaround strategies, managing to

restore public confidence and corporate image to some degree. However, according to

many crisis management scholars' expertise, an organization's poor response

performance in the early stage of a crisis could result in long-term negative impacts very

hard to offset (Coombs, 1999).









Level of Media Interest

The news media have played an important role in the process of CNCS [proposition

9]. The results of this study found that the elevated magnitude of the Teflon crisis in

China was partly due to the aggravated Chinese media coverage. In general, the media

interest in the Teflon issue was high according to Molleda and Quinn's (2004) CNCS

propositions. The conflict directly involved a leading transnational corporation DuPont,

its world-famous brand Teflon, and a great number of involved parties [propositions 4, 7

and 8].

Specifically, the Teflon case engendered greater human interest in China because

the U.S. media was found focusing on the perspective of the company's social

performance, whereas the Chinese media attributed the problem to the safety concerns

about some important, boycottable consumer products used in people's daily life

[propositions 1, 6 and 10]. The distinct news focus in a crisis situation between the two

countries may predict the different scales of impact that the media coverage could lead to.

Social and Cultural Context

The results of this study found that a unique China context has affected the crisis

evolution by subjecting DuPont's Teflon products to stricter scrutiny and leaving it more

susceptible to attacks. China has undergone a transformation from a highly centralized

system to a market-driven economy. Despite China's stunning economic growth and

considerable reform, its market regulation and surveillance systems are still very

immature. Plus, the government has long implemented disempowering policy toward any

forms of activist and advocacy groups. In such a social context, complaints about

businesses' poor consumer services and outbreaks of product safety incidents are

frequently exposed by the media. Consumers' increasing dissatisfaction and distrust with









business in general have left these companies prone to crises, as the general publics are

easily agitated by negative media coverage of product safety incidents.

Unlike many developed countries, China has a relatively short history of using

some Western-invented consumer products. When some non-traditional product, Teflon

cookware in this case, is challenged, consumer anxiety and boycott actions are more

likely to occur. In some cases when the Chinese regulation agencies do not have

developed testing measures and regulation policies readily available to ensure the

suspected product's safety, rumors and challenges could easily spur crises.

Apart from these, the Chinese culture has a tradition of low tolerance for

uncertainty. Old decision styles such as "Rather trust the suspicion," "Prepare for the

worse possibility," and "Never take a risk" are still influencing many people's behavior

patterns. Therefore, as the media framed the Teflon cookware as "potentially harmful to

human health," the normal reaction by many consumers would be to expect the worst and

avoid any Teflon-associated products entirely.

In addition, as consumer products involve people's daily lives, different cultures

might predict different life styles that crisis planning and response have to consider. For

instance, the Chinese cuisine uses higher temperatures than Western cuisine, easily

exceeding 260 degree centigrade, which DuPont used to cite as a safety criterion for

Teflon cookware use. If presented to western audiences, DuPont's argument is

compelling that the safety of Teflon products is assured at certain range of cooking

temperatures. However, in the eyes of the Chinese consumers, such explanation was

considered flawed and unreliable, and could backlash DuPont's credibility.









Implication, Limitation and Future Work

The descriptive and interpretive nature of the case study enabled rich details to

derive from multiple data sources. The study indicated the importance of balancing

integrated and localized crisis management considering the interconnectedness of the

System Age and complicated contextual variances across different regions. With the

globalization trend, TNCs have to be especially cautious about the potential effects of the

CNCS phenomenon. To be proactive in transnational crisis management, it is advisable

that TNCs evaluate their organizational structures to ensure the facilitation of flexible and

dynamic information dissemination and transnational crisis defense mechanisms. Such

structures should allow their crisis managers in different country outlets to exchange and

share information, experience, and expertise timely and conveniently. On the other hand,

local crisis managers have to be familiar with its specific environmental factors in order

to achieve maximum internal coherence and external corroboration in crisis response

discourse.

Findings and lessons learned in this study may prove useful in illustrating and

predicting typical trends shared by other CNCS cases, especially those related to the

Chinese market. For instance, the recent "Sudan I" crisis is another CNCS case with

similar characters of the Teflon case. The Sudan I crisis started from the United Kingdom

with the British Food Standard Agency's decision in February of 2005 to force the

withdrawal of over 500 food products in the British market, which allegedly contained

Sudan I, a potential carcinogen used in dye (BBC, 2005). With international media and

the Chinese media's coverage of the Sudan I concern, the conflict quickly spread to

China in March 2005 as the Chinese government initiated its own investigations. It was

found that some KFC and Heinz products sold in the Chinese market contained the









suspected chemical, which forced the two companies to apologize and recall their

products off the Chinese market (Novis, 2005).

Nonetheless, the supported hypotheses in this thesis were by no means conclusive

or could be generalized to other situations. Due to the transnational character of such

phenomena, multiple cultural and social contexts can add to the inherently uncertain and

unpredictable nature of organizational crises. This makes planning and implementing

crisis defense mechanism in TNCs a lot more complex and challenging than the scope a

single case study could possibly involve.

Although this study used multiple sources including online documents, archival

media records, and an intensive interview, the majority of data were still collected from

secondary sources. Besides, the media analysis was limited to the selected news samples

retrieved from either Lexis-Nexis for the English language news or SINA.com for the

Chinese language news. Accordingly, the specific criteria these databases adopted in

collecting and archiving news may well influence the profile of the news samples. Thus

results based on these news items may not simulate broader media coverage.

Furthermore, both the English language and the Chinese language news coverage were

coded with the same English language coding sheet. This resulted in potential coding

difficulties considering the ambiguity and subtlety of the Chinese language. These factors

could have reduced the objectivity and accuracy of data collection and interpretation.

Further research on CNCS is imperative to illuminate challenges facing TNCs with

respect to conflicting ethical codes, cultural clashes, and government intrusion (Coombs,

1999). Possible work will include case studies with different sampling strategies to test

and refine hypotheses supported in this case study. To incorporate more primary data






88


sources, other research methods are suggested such as interviews, focus groups and

surveys with organizational representatives and their key stakeholders. Based on more

extensive case studies and grounded theory research, a more thorough model or

questionnaire could be developed which could be used to analyze and evaluate the

performance of integrated crisis management system in transnational organizations.