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The Effects of Organizational Ethics on Responsibility, Reputation and Behavioral Intention in Crisis Management.

Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UFE0041969/00001

Material Information

Title: The Effects of Organizational Ethics on Responsibility, Reputation and Behavioral Intention in Crisis Management.
Physical Description: 1 online resource (96 p.)
Language: english
Creator: Ha, Jin
Publisher: University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 2010

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords: behavioral, crisis, image, organizational, reputation, scct
Journalism and Communications -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
Genre: Mass Communication thesis, M.A.M.C.
bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation

Notes

Abstract: This study provides a test of organizational ethics in crisis management. The study concentrated on how organizational ethics, crisis type, and response strategy were associated with the attribution of crisis responsibility, organizational reputation, and supportive behavioral intention. The analyses also examined how the crisis responsibility, reputation, and behavioral intention varied according to the organizational ethics. This study conducted an experiment using online instruments. The study used a between-groups 2 x 2 x 2 factorial design in which ethics level (high vs. low), crisis type (rumor vs. transgression), and response strategy (mortification vs. denial) were manipulated to produce eight different conditions. For the cases tested, the results supported the value and importance of organizational ethics in a crisis situation. First, the Pearson correlation coefficients revealed that the level of ethics of an organization was positively associated with the organizational reputation and supportive behavioral intention. And, there was a negative relationship between the level of ethics of an organization and crisis responsibility. Also, the results revealed that crisis responsibility was significantly negatively related to other variables, organizational reputation and supportive behavioral intention. This means that stakeholders? perception of organizational ethics level can play positive roles in crisis management and it is also important that the plan to lessen the degree to which publics attribute crisis responsibility to the organization should be made at the first phase of crisis. Third, the results of two-way ANOVA revealed that there was an interaction effect for ethics level by crisis type on organizational reputation. However, no interaction effect for ethics level by response strategy showed on any other dependent variables. The results indicated a significant main effect of the ethics level on crisis responsibility and supportive behavioral intention, while there was a main effect of crisis type only on crisis responsibility. Likewise, the results indicated a significant main effect of the response strategy on crisis responsibility and organizational reputation. The results confirm that the level of organizational ethics would be a very important moderate factor in crisis communication. Finally, the results revealed that rumor type crisis yielded more favorable crisis responsibility, organizational reputation and supportive behavioral intention than transgression type crisis. Interestingly, unlike hypothetical expectation, subjects indicated that the company using mortification response strategy should be more responsible for the crisis than one using denial response strategy. This means that it is possible that mortification might not guarantee the halo and halo effects in crisis management and the previous suggestions insisting mortification is the best response strategy in crisis might be false. The theoretical and practical implications of this study and suggestions for future research are discussed.
General Note: In the series University of Florida Digital Collections.
General Note: Includes vita.
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description: Description based on online resource; title from PDF title page.
Source of Description: This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The University of Florida Libraries, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Statement of Responsibility: by Jin Ha.
Thesis: Thesis (M.A.M.C.)--University of Florida, 2010.
Local: Adviser: Ferguson, Mary Ann.

Record Information

Source Institution: UFRGP
Rights Management: Applicable rights reserved.
Classification: lcc - LD1780 2010
System ID: UFE0041969:00001

Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UFE0041969/00001

Material Information

Title: The Effects of Organizational Ethics on Responsibility, Reputation and Behavioral Intention in Crisis Management.
Physical Description: 1 online resource (96 p.)
Language: english
Creator: Ha, Jin
Publisher: University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 2010

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords: behavioral, crisis, image, organizational, reputation, scct
Journalism and Communications -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
Genre: Mass Communication thesis, M.A.M.C.
bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation

Notes

Abstract: This study provides a test of organizational ethics in crisis management. The study concentrated on how organizational ethics, crisis type, and response strategy were associated with the attribution of crisis responsibility, organizational reputation, and supportive behavioral intention. The analyses also examined how the crisis responsibility, reputation, and behavioral intention varied according to the organizational ethics. This study conducted an experiment using online instruments. The study used a between-groups 2 x 2 x 2 factorial design in which ethics level (high vs. low), crisis type (rumor vs. transgression), and response strategy (mortification vs. denial) were manipulated to produce eight different conditions. For the cases tested, the results supported the value and importance of organizational ethics in a crisis situation. First, the Pearson correlation coefficients revealed that the level of ethics of an organization was positively associated with the organizational reputation and supportive behavioral intention. And, there was a negative relationship between the level of ethics of an organization and crisis responsibility. Also, the results revealed that crisis responsibility was significantly negatively related to other variables, organizational reputation and supportive behavioral intention. This means that stakeholders? perception of organizational ethics level can play positive roles in crisis management and it is also important that the plan to lessen the degree to which publics attribute crisis responsibility to the organization should be made at the first phase of crisis. Third, the results of two-way ANOVA revealed that there was an interaction effect for ethics level by crisis type on organizational reputation. However, no interaction effect for ethics level by response strategy showed on any other dependent variables. The results indicated a significant main effect of the ethics level on crisis responsibility and supportive behavioral intention, while there was a main effect of crisis type only on crisis responsibility. Likewise, the results indicated a significant main effect of the response strategy on crisis responsibility and organizational reputation. The results confirm that the level of organizational ethics would be a very important moderate factor in crisis communication. Finally, the results revealed that rumor type crisis yielded more favorable crisis responsibility, organizational reputation and supportive behavioral intention than transgression type crisis. Interestingly, unlike hypothetical expectation, subjects indicated that the company using mortification response strategy should be more responsible for the crisis than one using denial response strategy. This means that it is possible that mortification might not guarantee the halo and halo effects in crisis management and the previous suggestions insisting mortification is the best response strategy in crisis might be false. The theoretical and practical implications of this study and suggestions for future research are discussed.
General Note: In the series University of Florida Digital Collections.
General Note: Includes vita.
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description: Description based on online resource; title from PDF title page.
Source of Description: This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The University of Florida Libraries, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Statement of Responsibility: by Jin Ha.
Thesis: Thesis (M.A.M.C.)--University of Florida, 2010.
Local: Adviser: Ferguson, Mary Ann.

Record Information

Source Institution: UFRGP
Rights Management: Applicable rights reserved.
Classification: lcc - LD1780 2010
System ID: UFE0041969:00001


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THE EFFECTS OF ORGANIZATIONAL ETHICS ON RESPONSIBILITY, REPUTATION
AND BEHAVIORAL INTENTION IN CRISIS MANAGEMENT





















By

JINHONG HA


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

2010



































2010 Jinhong Ha

































To my family, professors and colleagues









ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

This thesis could not have been completed alone. It was through the amalgamation of

many efforts that success was achieved. I am very grateful to the numerous individuals who

helped me to accomplish this difficult work.

I am sincerely grateful to Dr. Mary Ann Ferguson, my thesis Chair, for her charity,

understanding, enduring support, and love. She was not only my academic advisor and mentor

but also a role model, someone who is willing to understand students' problem and difficulty and

give a hand. Without her help and guidance, I would have lost confidence in my ability to

complete this program. I am very thankful to her. It was a great honor for me to complete my

Master degree under her guidance. Also, I owe special appreciation to Dr. Cynthia Morton for

providing invaluable academic advice and encouragement. Dr. Juan-Carlos Molleda offered me

insightful comments and thoughtful assistance in conducting an online experiment for this thesis,

which I greatly appreciate. My deepest gratitude goes to Dr. Moon Lee for her inspiration and

dedication.

I would also like to express my gratitude to Dr. Linda Childers Hon who introduced me to

the public relations theory, which directly led to the basis of the public relations world. I truly

thank Dr. Youjin Choi for guiding me through the whole process of the master program. My

special thanks go to Dr. David Craig, Dr. Maureen Taylor, and Dr. Namkee Park at the

University of Oklahoma. They offered kind support and encouragement to me to successfully

begin my future doctoral study. I would like to extend my gratitude to Dr. Coy Callison, Dr.

Trent Seltzer, and Dr. Weiwu Zhang at the Texas Tech University, who challenged my potential

and also helped me start journey to the future doctoral study.

I am very grateful to my close friends in Gainesville. Jun Heo, a Ph.D. candidate, had put

in a great effort to keep me making straight and wise decisions during my study in Gainesville.









Special thanks to Chunsik Lee, Minkil Kim, Bumsub Jin, Jooyeon Hwang, Sooyeon Kim,

Eunhwa Jung, and Hanna Park for their helping me collect data samples for this study. My

heartfelt thanks go out to Peter Gray, Daewook Kim, Hyejoon Rim, Heejung Kim and Jaekyung

Kim for their endless help and trust. No acknowledgment would be complete without thanking to

Fr. Aemilius Choi at the St. Francis Choe Catholic Church. He has listened courteously and

thoughtfully to my many problems and made me relaxed. I am very grateful for having them.

Finally, my biggest thanks go to all of my flesh and blood. My parents believed in me and

gave me enduring support whenever I was mentally tired due to my study. They always

reminded me of my original purpose for studying abroad. Without their love, it would have been

impossible to accomplish what I dreamed. My two older sisters and younger brother, brother and

sister-in-law, and my cute nephews and niece also provided me with the emotional motivation to

complete this study.









TABLE OF CONTENTS

page

A CK N O W LED G M EN T S ................................................................. ........... ............. .....

L IST O F T A B L E S ......................................................... ................................ 8

LIST OF FIGURES .................................. .. ..... ..... ................. .9

A B S T R A C T ................................ ............................................................ 10

CHAPTER

1 IN T R O D U C T IO N ............................... .................. ...................................... .................... 12

2 LITERATURE REVIEW AND THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK............................ ..15

Crisis Type and Responsibility in Situational Crisis Communication Theory ..................15
Relationship between Crisis Type and Crisis Responsibility................. ............. ...15
Situ national F actors ......... ......................................................... ................ ... ..... 16
Crisis Response Strategy in Image Repair Theory (IRT).....................................................18
Relationship between Crisis Type and Crisis Response Strategy ..................................18
S itu atio n al F a cto rs .................................................................. .................................2 0
O organizational Ethics and C crisis .................................................. .............................. 21
E this in C crisis M anagem ent..................................................................................22
Buffering Effect and Halo Effect ............................................................................. 24

3 RESEARCH QUESTION AND HYPOTHESES ...................................... ............... 28

R research Q u estion ......................................................... ................. 2 8
R research H ypotheses ..................................... .................. ............ .. ............ 28

4 M E T H O D ..........................................................................3 7

D e sig n ................................................................................................................3 7
Stimulus M materials ............... ................. ............ ........................ ... 38
Q u estion n aire ............................................................................... 3 9
Participants .........................................42
D ata C collection P procedure .............................................................................. ............... 42
D ata A n a ly se s ................................................................................................................... 4 3

5 R E SU L T S .............. ... ................................................................44

Descriptive Statistics ................................... .. .......... ............... 44
R liability ............... .. ................................................................46
M manipulation Check ............... ................. ............ ............................ 47
Hypothesis Testing ................................. .. ... .... ................... 49









The Relationships among the Level of Ethics of an Organization and Three
D dependent V ariables. ............... ........ ................. ....... .... ...... .. .. ............. 49
The Three-way Effect of the Ethics Level, Crisis Type, and Response Strategy on
Three Dependent Variables.................... ....... ....... ...................50
The Buffer Effect of the Organizational Ethics on Three Dependent Variables ............50
The Halo Effect of the Organizational Ethics on three Dependent Variables.................52

6 D IS C U S S IO N ........................................................................................................6 6

Sum m ary of K ey F indings.............................................................................................66
Theoretical Im plications ......................... ........... .. .. ......... ..... ..... 68
Practical Implications ............................... ... ...... ... .................. 70
Lim stations and Future Studies .......................................................................... ............... 72

APPENDIX

A STIM U LU S M A TER IA L S .......................................................................... ....................76

Introduction Stories of a High-Ethical and Low-Ethical Company ......................................76
A H igh-Ethical Com pany, Jack & H ill....................................... ......................... 76
A Low-Ethical Company, Jack & Hill. ........................................ ....................... 77
Copies of N ew s Stories...................... ........ .. ........... .. ........... 78
T ran sgression and D enial ........................................................................ .................. 78
R u m or an d D en ial............. .................................................................... ......... ........ .. 7 8
Transgression and Mortification..................... ........ ............................. 79
R um or and M fortification ........................................................................ .. .................79

B Q U E S T IO N N A IR E ............................ ......................................................... .....................80

C UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARD INFORMED
C O N SE N T A PPR O V A L ............................ ................................................... ...................85

P protocol Subm mission F orm .......................................................................... .....................85
State ent of Inform ed Consent ..........................................................................87

L IST O F R EFER EN CE S .............. .................................................................................... 89

B IO G R A PH IC A L SK E T C H ................................................................................ ............... 96









LIST OF TABLES


Table page

5-1 Descriptive statistics for demographics of subjects...................................... ..................55

5-2 The number of subjects for each condition............................................................56

5-3 Subjects' average age per condition. ......................................................... ........... ....56

5-4 Factor analysis and reliability analysis for indices. ................................ .................57

5-5 M manipulation check for ethics level .......................................................... ... ................58

5-6 M manipulation check for crisis type ....................................................... ............... 58

5-7 M manipulation check for response strategy. ............................................. ............... 59

5-8 Correlation between the level of ethics, crisis responsibility, organizational
reputation, and supportive behavioral intention...................................... ............... 59

5-9 Univariate f-values for the dependent variables. .................................... .................59

5-11 Univariate analysis of variance for organizational reputation by ethics and crisis
ty p e ................... ............. ............................................... ................ 6 0

5-12 Univariate analysis of variance for supportive behavioral intention by ethics and
crisis type .................................................................................60

5-13 Means and standard deviations for crisis responsibility, organizational reputation,
and supportive behavioral intention by ethics level and crisis type................................61

5-14 Univariate analysis of variance for crisis responsibility by ethics and response
strategy.......................................................... 62

5-15 Univariate analysis of variance for organizational reputation by ethics and response
strategy.......................................................... 62

5-16 Univariate analysis of variance for supportive behavioral intention by ethics and
resp on se strategy y ........................................................ ................ 62

5-17 Means and standard deviations for crisis responsibility, organizational reputation,
and supportive behavioral intention by ethics level and response strategy .....................63









LIST OF FIGURES

Figure page

3-1 Expectation of hypothesis one. ................ ................................................................ 33

3-2 Expectation of hypothesis tw o. ......................................................................................34

3-3 Expectation of hypotheses three. .............. ............................................ 34

3-4 Expectation of hypotheses four .......................... ................... ................. ............... 35

3-5 Expectation of hypotheses five. ........................... ...... ........... ............ .......................... 35

3-6 Expectation of hypotheses six......... ..................................... ................. ............... 36

3-7 Expectation of hypotheses seven. .......... ............................................................... ......36

5-1 Ethics by crisis type by response strategy three-way interactions ...................................64

5-2 E this by crisis type. .......................... ........................... .... ........ ......... 65

5-3 E this by response strategy. ....................................................................... ...................65









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

THE EFFECTS OF ORGANIZATIONAL ETHICS ON RESPONSIBILITY, REPUTATION
AND BEHAVIORAL INTENTION IN CRISIS MANAGEMENT

By

Jinhong Ha

August 2010

Chair: Mary Ann Ferguson
Major: Mass Communication

This study provides a test of organizational ethics in crisis management. The study

concentrated on how organizational ethics, crisis type, and response strategy were associated

with the attribution of crisis responsibility, organizational reputation, and supportive behavioral

intention. The analyses also examined how the crisis responsibility, reputation, and behavioral

intention varied according to the organizational ethics. This study conducted an experiment using

online instruments. The study used a between-groups 2 x 2 x 2 factorial design in which ethics

level (high vs. low), crisis type (rumor vs. transgression), and response strategy (mortification vs.

denial) were manipulated to produce eight different conditions.

For the cases tested, the results supported the value and importance of organizational ethics

in a crisis situation. First, the Pearson correlation coefficients revealed that the level of ethics of

an organization was positively associated with the organizational reputation and supportive

behavioral intention. And, there was a negative relationship between the level of ethics of an

organization and crisis responsibility. Also, the results revealed that crisis responsibility was

significantly negatively related to other variables, organizational reputation and supportive

behavioral intention. This means that stakeholders' perception of organizational ethics level can

play positive roles in crisis management and it is also important that the plan to lessen the degree









to which publics attribute crisis responsibility to the organization should be made at the first

phase of crisis.

Third, the results of two-way ANOVA revealed that there was an interaction effect for

ethics level by crisis type on organizational reputation. However, no interaction effect for ethics

level by response strategy showed on any other dependent variables. The results indicated a

significant main effect of the ethics level on crisis responsibility and supportive behavioral

intention, while there was a main effect of crisis type only on crisis responsibility. Likewise, the

results indicated a significant main effect of the response strategy on crisis responsibility and

organizational reputation. The results confirm that the level of organizational ethics would be a

very important moderate factor in crisis communication.

Finally, the results revealed that rumor type crisis yielded more favorable crisis

responsibility, organizational reputation and supportive behavioral intention than transgression

type crisis. Interestingly, unlike hypothetical expectation, subjects indicated that the company

using mortification response strategy should be more responsible for the crisis than one using

denial response strategy. This means that it is possible that mortification might not guarantee the

halo and halo effects in crisis management and the previous suggestions insisting mortification is

the best response strategy in crisis might be false.

The theoretical and practical implications of this study and suggestions for future research

are discussed.









CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION

We know well the lesson from The .\shephl 's Boy and The Wolf, one of the Aesop's

Fables. A shepherd-boy, who was judged as a sincere boy, rushed down towards the village

calling out "Wolf, Wolf," and the villagers came out to help him. However, it was his trick. A

few days after, he tried the same thing for pleasure, and the neighbors came to help him again.

Shortly after this event, a wolf truly came at last. The shepherd-boy cried out "Wolf, Wolf!" still

louder than before. However, nobody lifted a finger to help him. This lesson tells us how

important a person's trust is at an unusual time.

Can this moral be applied to business management? This simple question is the starting

point of my thesis. This study concentrates on finding out how people's perceptions and attitudes

differ in terms of the assets of an organization's ethical performance and image when the

organization faces a crisis.

It is now over 10 years since crisis communication theories were developed for effective

crisis management. Among crisis communication theories, Situational Crisis Communication

Theory (SCCT) (Coombs & Holladay, 2002) and Image Repair Theory (IRT) (Benoit, 1995) are

representative. These theories have developed effective strategies for crisis management based

on the communication, social, and public relations theories, such as Attribution Theory (Weiner,

1985), Cognitive Dissonance Theory (Festinger, 1957), Contingency Theory (Cameron, 1997),

Complexity Theory (Murphy, 1996, 2000), Game Theory (Murphy, 1989), and so forth.

SCCT and IRT suggest that the appropriate crisis response strategies should match the

crisis type. According to these theories, the matched response strategies can affect the attribution

of crisis responsibility, organizational reputation, and stakeholder's potential outcome. Recently,

much attention has been given to other situational factors influencing the results of crisis









management. For example, identification of crisis type and the level of crisis responsibility can

vary in terms of stakeholders' emotion toward an organization, crisis history, and relationship

between an organization and stakeholders. In fact, consumers are likely to experience a diverse

relationship with an organization that is significantly associated with a crisis responsibility,

reputation of an organization, and behavioral intention (Cameron, Pang, & Jin, 2008; Coombs,

2007; Kim, Kim, & Cameron, 2009; Kim & Yang, 2009).

As society becomes more complex, the definition and identity of crisis have changed. First

of all, crisis types have been more diverse and the range of damage from the crisis has also been

enlarged. This means that the kinds of stakeholders whom organizations should communicate

with have become increasingly diverse. Next, crises have become more unpredictable, which

indicates the importance of pre-crisis management.

Due to the change of crisis environments, it is true that crisis management activities are not

necessary only after a crisis is realized. Some studies on crisis communication have found

situational factors, such as history of crisis or relationship, which can influence the effectiveness

of crisis management (Cameron, Pang, & Jin, 2008; Coombs & Holladay, 1996, 2001). In the

pre-crisis situation situational factors affects a public's perception and attitude toward an

organization, which tells us that the perceptions and attitudes in a pre-crisis situation may play an

important role in actual crisis management. It is necessary for crisis managers to make an effort

not only for actual crisis management activities, such as environmental monitoring, but also for

potential crisis management activities, such as organizational image building, reputation

management, and relationship improvement with publics.

Thus, the purpose of this study is to explore the effects of ethical performance of an

organization on the process of crisis management by examining whether the organizational ethics









plays a role as a buffer and halo attenuating the damage from a crisis. This study would

contribute to the body of knowledge in crisis management as well as public relations

communication by revealing the fact that the organizational ethics could be one of the situational

factors affecting the effectiveness of organizational crisis management activities.









CHAPTER 2
LITERATURE REVIEW AND THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK

Crisis Type and Responsibility in Situational Crisis Communication Theory

Relationship between Crisis Type and Crisis Responsibility

One of theoretical frames of SCCT is Attribution theory explaining how people search for

causes of issues or events (Weiner, 1985). By using Attribution theory, SCCT posits that people

need to assign responsibility for a crisis to a specific organization. The notion of crisis

responsibility is "the degree to which the organization is perceived to be responsible for the crisis

events" (Coombs, 2008, p.265). The level of crisis responsibility can vary according to

attribution of control, performance history (crisis history and relationship history), and damage

seriousness (Coombs & Holladay, 1995).

SCCT also identifies crisis types in terms of the level of crisis responsibility perceived by

stakeholders. The crisis types created by SCCT have a list of thirteen crisis situations which exist

on a continuum from high crisis responsibility to low crisis responsibility. Coombs and Holladay

(2008) divided these crisis types into three clusters referring to a preventable cluster, an

accidental cluster, and a victim cluster (see Table 2-1). This categorization helps understand the

relationship between crisis type and crisis responsibility because crisis types can be created

based on crisis responsibility, and in turn, crisis responsibility can be predicted according to the

crisis type. Thus, it can be said that the relationship between crisis type and crisis responsibility

is considerably reciprocal. In other words, the crisis type not only can be identified by

assessment of crisis responsibility but also can help assess the crisis responsibility to be

attributed to an organization.

Attribution of crisis responsibility to an organization can be perceived as strongest when

the organization has had many crisis histories, the crisis might be controlled by people inside the









organization, the crisis results in severe damage, and the organization's intentionality of the

wrong doing is high (Coombs, 1998; Coombs & Holladay, 1996, 2001, 2002). For example, the

crisis types in a preventable cluster including human error accidents, human error recalls, and

organizational misdeeds are regarded as high attribution of crisis responsibility to the

organization. On the other hand, the crisis types in a victim cluster including natural disaster,

rumors, workplace violence, and product tampering are classified as low attributions of crisis

responsibility to the organization.

Regarding the relationship between crisis type and crisis responsibility, Coombs and

Holladay (1996) tested it by using two types of crisis transgression and accident. The results

revealed that transgression was perceived as having greater crisis responsibility than accident.

Through more studies on the relationship between crisis type and responsibility, Coombs and his

colleagues found that there was significantly different crisis responsibility that stakeholders

perceived depending on different crisis types human error accident, organizational misdeed,

technical error accident, technical error recalls, workplace violence, and product tampering

(Coombs, 1998, 1999; Coombs & Holladay, 2001, 2002; Coombs & Schmidt, 2000). The results

reveal that there is a strong relationship between crisis type and attribution of crisis responsibility

to an organization. Moreover, Cho and Gower (2006) found that the more intentional crisis type

(i.e., transgression) led to more attribution of organizational crisis responsibility than the

unintentional crisis type (i.e., rumor).

Situational Factors

Previous studies on crisis responsibility examined other factors influencing attribution of

responsibility for crisis (Coombs, 1998; Coombs & Holladay, 1996, 2001; Park & Len-Rios,

2008).









Coombs and Holladay (1996) suggest situational threat intensifier factors which can affect

perceptions of crisis responsibility. There are three factors severity, crisis history, and

relationship history. First, severity refers to the amount of damage inflicted by a crisis including

human lives lost and injuries, financial loss, and environmental destruction. Second, crisis

history indicates how many times an organization has had similar crises in the past. The third

factor, relationship history, is concerned with whether an organization has had good relationship

with publics based on desirable performances and how it has treated its stakeholders in the past.

Coombs and Holladay (1996) hypothesized that the more severe the damage or the worse

the crisis history and relationship history, the greater crisis responsibility stakeholders would

attribute to the organization. These hypotheses were supported partially. In fact, the severity of

damage did not affect crisis responsibility in the crisis types of technical error accident and

organizational misdeed (Coombs, 1998). This means the effect of threat intensifier factors on

attribution of crisis responsibility can differ in specific crisis types and situations. Crisis history

was found to have an effect on crisis responsibility for some crisis types, such as organizational

misdeed, human error crisis, technical error crisis, and workplace violence, but no effect for

other crisis types including product tampering and technical error recall (Coombs, 1998, 2002;

Coombs & Holladay, 2001).

The relationship history is particularly interesting regarding the results that an unfavorable

relationship history was found to have a negative effect on crisis responsibility, while a favorable

relationship history had no negative effect (Coombs & Holladay, 2001). Cooms and Holladay

(2001) interpreted this results that people who have bad relationship with an organization tend to

attribute stronger crisis responsibility to the organization than an organization with which they

have a good relationship. Recently, Coombs (2007) posits that relationship history has a direct









and indirect effect on reputational damage posed by a crisis. For example, a negative relationship

with stakeholders can affect indirect attribution of crisis responsibility to an organization by

deteriorating the definition of the crisis type from victim crisis to accident crisis or from accident

crisis to preventable crisis (Coombs & Holladay, 2001). Also, they found that the negative

relationship with stakeholders can directly intensify the reputational damage (Coombs &

Holladay, 2004). Kim and Yang (2009) found that the organizations keeping a bad relationship

with stakeholders are likely to be perceived as having the high attribution of crisis responsibility.

Throughout the previous results, we might expect that, unlike the effect of negative

relationship with stakeholders, the positive pre-crisis relationship may produce the positive

impact, playing an important role in protecting and supporting an organization in crisis situation.

Crisis Response Strategy in Image Repair Theory (IRT)

Relationship between Crisis Type and Crisis Response Strategy

A crisis might be one of the most serious events that threaten to damage the image and

reputation of an organization. In a crisis, generally, using a compassion message can positively

affect a public's perception more on the organizational reputation than using a simple instructing

information message (Coombs, 1999). In fact, people tend to consider the organization that

issued an apologetic response as more favorable, more prosocial, more ethical, and more likable

than the organization that gave a defensive response (Lyon & Cameron, 2004).

Benoit and Pang (2008) identified five categories of crisis response strategies for

organizational image restoration; they consist of denial, evasion of responsibility, reducing

offensiveness of the event, corrective action, and mortification (see Table 2-2). IRT suggests that

the appropriate crisis response strategies (from denial to mortification) should be matched to

crisis types identified by the level of crisis responsibility in order to manage effectively the

image and reputation of an organization in a crisis situation (Benoit, 1995). Mortification









response strategy admits wrong doing and asks for forgiveness indicating both acceptance of

responsibility for the event and expression of direct apology, while denial response strategy uses

either simple denial saying that the crisis is not relevant to the organization, or blame shift

declaring that another organization is really responsible for the crisis event (Benoit & Pang,

2008).

Like SCCT, IRT has an emphasis on the responsibility of the organization for the crisis.

Matching crisis response strategies to the specific crisis types should be on the mortification and

denial continuum. This means an appropriate crisis response strategy should be selected based on

evaluating the organizational crisis responsibility for crisis situations on the mortification-denial

continuum. For example, mortification strategies are needed for the crisis types in the

preventable cluster where the organization is recognized as highly responsible for a crisis,

whereas denial strategies are appropriate for the crisis types in the victim cluster perceived as

low crisis responsibility.

A well-matched crisis response to crisis type affects not only crisis responsibility but also

organizational reputation, and stakeholders' behavioral intention during the crisis event (Benoit,

2000). A matched crisis response strategy can better protect an organization's reputation than

other responses, such as no response, just providing information, or any randomly selected

message (Allen & Caillouet, 1994). For example, the matched condition of transgression and

mortification is related to more positive organizational reputation than the mismatched condition

of transgression and evasion of responsibility (Coombs & Holladay, 1996). A similar pattern of

result is found in the combination of accident crisis type with either mortification response or

evasion of responsibility (Coombs & Holladay, 1996).









Racism crisis-type experimental research reveals that there are no significant differences

among the effects of five different response strategies (shifting blame, bolstering, separation,

corrective action, and mortification) on organizational image and reputation and stakeholders'

behavioral intention (Coombs & Schmidt, 2000). However, if the variable of relationship with

stakeholders is included in experimental conditions, the result changes. When corrective action

response strategy is used, the organization having a good relationship with stakeholders is

perceived as having significantly less crisis responsibility and a more positive organizational

reputation than the organization having a bad relationship (Kim & Yang, 2009).

Moreover, story balance in media coverage is affected by the types of response strategies

used during a crisis. In a sexual assault crisis, the response strategy of defeasibility that declares

lack of information or ability causes news stories to be negative, while stories are positive when

a bolstering strategy that reminds stakeholders of the organization's positive performances or

aspects is used (Holtzhausen & Roberts, 2009).

Situational Factors

Contingency theory supplements IRT with the factor-stance-strategy model for

organizational image restoration in crisis by explaining the process in which an organization uses

response strategies based on its stance and crisis factors (Cameron, Pang, & Jin, 2008).

In the factor-stance-strategy model, first, the factors refer to the contingent factors,

conditions within and without the organization, which facilitate the organization's stance. Like

the situational threat intensifier factors affecting attribution of crisis responsibility in SCCT, the

contingent factors influence the stance the organization takes in crisis. The contingent factors

include five key factors involvement of the dominant coalition, influence and autonomy of

public relations, influence and role of legal practitioners, importance of publics to the

organization, and the organization's perception of threat (Pang, 2006; Reber & Cameron, 2003).









Second, stance referring to the position an organization takes in decision-making moves

along the continuum having two poles, advocacy and accommodation. The stance influences an

organization's action as crisis response strategy, the third dimension of the factor-stance-strategy

model. Thus, the fact-stance-strategy model assumes that the stance can be positioned in terms of

the factors; in turn, the strategy that an organization uses during a crisis can be selected based on

the stance continuum (Pang, 2006).

Therefore, Benoit's image repair continuum in IRT has been merged with the stance

continuum in the factor-stance-strategy model of Contingency theory (Holtzhausen & Roberts,

2009). In other words, crisis response strategies suggested by IRT can be regarded as existing on

a continuum in that denial strategy shares similar characteristics with advocacy, and

mortification strategy shares similar characteristics with accommodation (Benoit, 2004). For

example, when the cause of a crisis is external to the organization and less accommodation is

required, the organization would be more likely to use denial response strategy to advocate the

organization's interests. However, the organization would be more likely to use the mortification

response strategy to accommodate stakeholders' interests when it has strong crisis responsibility

(Holtzhausen & Roberts, 2009).

Organizational Ethics and Crisis

Ethics has to do with moral standards defined as the principles of right and wrong and is

related to what is good or bad (Anand & Rosen, 2008). Likewise, business ethics is considered as

a organization's obligation to be honest with its stakeholders, to protect employee rights, to

preserve the environment, and so on (Berenbeim, 1987; Drucker, 1981). Business ethics had

begun gaining attention and been emphasized since 1970s when people witnessed miserable

economic disasters (Cory, 2005).









Business ethics is a form of applied ethics so that it is regarded as playing an important

role in creating not only visible assets, such as economic profits through causing consumers to

purchase products and services, but also invisible assets, such as favorable image, reputation, and

relationship with consumers (Nielsen, 2004, Schweiger, Sandberg, & Rechner, 1989). Business

ethics has been evaluated by various constructs with the perspectives of economic, legal, or

ethical dimensions (Epstein, 1998; Husted, 1998). Particularly, an ethical business is well related

to corporate financial performance, which has been given a critical research interest by many

scholars as an important issue since the 1960s (McGuire et al., 1988). In fact, a meta-analysis

revealed that the relationship between organizational ethics and a firm's financial performance

appeared positively (Orlizky et al., 2003).

Ethics in Crisis Management

The goal of crisis management is to reduce organizational reputation damage and to

encourage stakeholders to accommodate the response messages and give their supportive

behaviors (Benoit, 1995; Brinson & Benoit, 1999). It needs to investigate how business ethics

can contribute to crisis management.

Unfortunately, few studies on the direct relationship between organizational ethics and

crisis management or the role of its ethics in crisis communication are found. Recently, however,

research on corporate social responsibility (CSR) has been given the attention the premise of an

ethical organization (Logsdon & Wood, 2002; Mahon & Wartick, 2003; Siltaoja, 2006).

Generally, CSR means operating the business of an organization in a manner that is based on

ethical standards, social norms, legal policies, and so forth (Driver, 2006).

Many scholars insist that ethical corporate behaviors, including CSR activities, can

influence an organization's reputation and image (Fombrun, 1998; Lewis, 2001; Schultz et al.,

2001). Although there are few studies about the effectiveness of CSR activities on crisis









management, sound organizational reputation created by CSR activities is expected to protect an

organization against potential crisis events (Baker, 2001).

There are some reports about CSR's effect on the attribution of crisis responsibility. An

experimental finding on the effect of ethical response messages suggests that people are likely to

attribute less crisis responsibility to an organization using a CSR-emphasized message than one

using other messages, such as ability-oriented messages, in a transgression crisis event (Kim,

Kim, & Cameron, 2009). This result, however, varies in terms of the crisis type. For example,

the crisis responsibility is likely to be attributed less to the organization using a corporate ability

message when an accident crisis type occurs (Kim, Kim, & Cameron, 2009). Moreover, although

stakeholders' perception of organizational reputation and behavioral intention can vary in terms

of its CSR levels in a crisis situation, the perception of crisis responsibility does not show a

difference in terms of the CSR levels (Kim & Yang, 2009).

Organizational reputation has also been given interests to practitioners as well as scholars

in the context of an organization's ethical behavior (Mahon & Wartick, 2003). Many scholars

insist that an ethical organization's behaviors such as CSR can influence its reputation, in turn,

the perception of reputation determined by CSR activity can be the premise of attraction to the

organization (Logsdon & Wood, 2002; Mahon & Wartick, 2003). Thus, the perceived level of

ethics of an organization can play an important role to construct favorable reputation with

primary stakeholders.

As we know, it is difficult to simply identify the effect and role of organizational ethics

and its CSR activities in a crisis situation because the notion of business ethics and CSR are

composed of diverse constructs and dimensions that result in stakeholders having different ethics

and CSR perspectives. However, there is little question that organizational ethics and CSR









activity has a strong correlation with stakeholders' perception toward the organization. Thus, it

can be said that, like the earlier mentioned situational factors influencing attribution of crisis

responsibility, organizational reputation, and behavioral intention, organizational ethics and CSR

would moderate stakeholders' perception and attitude toward the organization in a crisis

situation.

Buffering Effect and Halo Effect

It has been acknowledged that it is easier for an organization having a positive relationship

with stakeholders to maintain its positive image and reputation. People are likely to search for

information that is consistent with their first judgment after an attribution is made (Bodenhausen

& Wyer. 1985; Darley & Gross, 1983; Eisenberg, 1984). Pratkanis et al. (1988) explained the

evidence of a sleeper effect, a potentially delayed increasing impact of a persuasive message. It

means that an existing reputation can have the power of maintaining the public's perception, in

turn, any response strategy in a crisis situation might work because a positive reputation is

deeply established (Lyon & Cameron, 2004). Likewise, a good reputation combined with an

apologetic response strategy may result in less damage from a crisis (Coombs, 2000).

When a crisis occurs, the "credits" accumulated in pre-crisis may buffer the negative

impacts (Birch, 1994; Coombs, 1998). The buffering effect proposed by Barnett & Hyde (2001)

refers to the ability of positive experience to alleviate or moderate the stress caused by a negative

experience. When applying the effect to crisis management, a positive experience or judgment

on an organization recognized as an ethical may act as a buffer against the attribution of

organizational responsibility and reputation damage (Coombs & Holladay, 2001). In other

words, a good relationship with stakeholders based on an ethical image may buffer the reputation

damage and attribution of crisis responsibility.









Moreover, a favorable relationship also has a halo effect as a bank account of "goodwill"

in a crisis situation (Coombs & Holladay, 2001; Payne, 2006). According to the halo effect,

when an organization is perceived to have one desirable characteristic, then the organization is

likely to be assumed to have many other desirable characteristics as well. Thus, in crisis, a highly

ethical organization tends to be given credit for its trustworthiness so that stakeholders should be

willing to accept more easily the crisis response messages communicated by the organization.

Research on the buffering effect and halo effect explain the impact of a favorable

relationship between an organization and stakeholders (Balzer & Sulsky, 1992; Nisbett &

Wilson, 1977). In a crisis, once a positive perception of an organization is established, people

tend to ignore information against the favorable reputation and are likely to seek after messages

supporting their beliefs toward the organization (Coombs, 1999).









Table 2-1. Crisis types (Coombs & Holladay, 2002)
Crisis Type Definition
Preventable Cluster
(High Crisis Responsibility)
Human-error accidents Human error causes an industrial accident
Human-error recalls Human error caused a product to be recalled
Organizational misdeed with no injuries Stakeholders are deceived without injury
Organizational misdeed management Laws or regulations are violated by management
misconduct
Organizational misdeed with injuries Stakeholders are placed at risk by management
and injuries
Accidental Cluster
(Moderate Crisis Responsibility)
Challenges Stakeholders claim an organization acts in
inappropriate manner
Megadamage A technical accident where the focus is on the
environmental damage from the accident
Technical-error accidents A technology or equipment failure causes an
industrial accident
Technical-error recalls A technology or equipment failure causes a
product to be recalled
Victim Cluster
(Low Crisis responsibility)
Natural disaster Acts of nature that damage an organization, such
as an earthquake
Rumors False and damaging information about an
organization is being circulated
Workplace violence Current or former employee attacks current
employees onsite
Product tampering/malevolence External agent causes damage to an organization









Table 2-2. Crisis response strategies (Benoit &
Crisis Response Strategy
Denial
Simple denial
Shift the blame


Evasion of responsibility
Provocation
Defeasibility
Accident
Good intentions

Reducing offensiveness of event
Bolstering
Minimization
Differentiation
Transcendence
Attack accuser
Compensation

Corrective action

Mortification


Pang, 2008)
Definition

Did not perform act
Act performed by another



Responded to act of another
Lack of information or ability
Act was a mishap
Meant well in act



Stress good traits
Act not serious
Act less offensive than similar ones
More important considerations
Reduce credibility of accuse
Reimburse victim

Plan to solve or prevent problem

Apologize for act









CHAPTER 3
RESEARCH QUESTION AND HYPOTHESES

Research Question

Previous studies on crisis management reveal that there are strong correlations among

crisis responsibility, organizational reputation, and potential supportive behavioral intention

(Benoit & Pang, 2008; Cameron et. al., 2008; Coombs, 2008). Most crisis communication

theories emphasize the relationship between an organization and stakeholders as an important

situational factor which can affect the result of crisis management. The researcher assumed that

one of the critical variables that stakeholders may use when they evaluate the relationship with

an organization is the level of ethics of the organization.

Therefore, it can be expected that the organizational ethics must be relevant to other factors

in crisis management. To assess the relationship between the level of organizational ethics and

other factors in crisis management, the following research question was developed.

RQ. What correlations are there between organizational ethics, attribution of crisis

responsibility, reputation of an organization, and stakeholders' supportive behavioral intention?

Research Hypotheses

Identifying crisis type and matching appropriate crisis response strategy to the crisis type

are very important in crisis management because a matched response message is more effective

than the unmatched one. As mentioned earlier, there is also a strong reciprocal relationship

between crisis type, response strategy, and crisis responsibility perceived by publics in that crisis

response strategies can be matched by crisis types and the crisis types can be identified by crisis

responsibility. In addition, according to SCCT and IRT, crisis responsibility is negatively

correlated to organizational reputation; in turn, the organizational reputation is positively related

to supportive behavioral intention.









The effect of crisis type and crisis response strategy on stakeholders' attitude (attribution

of crisis responsibility to an organization, organizational reputation, and supportive behavioral

intention) has been studied based on a linear approach, such as crisis type and response strategy

-* crisis responsibility -* organizational reputation -* behavioral intention. When an

organization responded apologetically, people were likely to possess an attitude of a good

reputation toward the company, and then were significantly more inclined to invest in the

company (Lyon & Cameron, 2004). However, considering that crisis is the outcome of

complicated environments and situations, a simple linear approach is not adequate to manage the

crisis effectively. Thus, we need to examine both the direct effects of crisis type and response

strategy on stakeholders' attitudes and the indirect effects of them.

In fact, assuming the effect of organizational ethics on reducing crisis responsibility and

damage to organizational reputation and making stakeholders be willing to accommodate the

response messages communicated by an organization, a three-way interaction between crisis type,

crisis response strategy, and organizational ethics is entirely plausible. Specifically, the

researcher would expect a mortification response strategy used by a high-ethical organization for

a rumor crisis to have greater impact on the dependent variables than any other condition.

Thus, the interplay of the level of organizational ethics and other factors is addressed in

Hypothesis 1.

H1. Subjects will show more positive attitudes (less attribution of crisis responsibility,

better reputation of an organization, and higher supportive behavioral intention) when rumor and

mortification condition are combined for a high-ethical organization than any other condition.

Figure 3-1 visualizes the expectation of this three-way interaction hypothesis 1.









Regarding the effect of organizational ethics, it can contribute to creating positive

relationships with publics; in turn, it may cause stakeholders to keep their good perceptions and

attitudes during a crisis situation. This assumption can be explained by the buffering effect and

halo effect. In other words, organizational ethics variable also may act essentially as a moderator

influencing the impact of crisis type and response strategy.

Previous studies confirmed that rumor type crisis is likely to yield more favorable

stakeholders' attitudes (less attribution of crisis responsibility, better reputation of an

organization, and higher supportive behavioral intention) than transgression type crisis. In this

study the researcher assumed that a highly ethical organization might act as a buffer against the

attribution of crisis responsibility, reputation damage, and the decline of supportive behavioral

intention.

The results of the previous research also revealed that mortification response strategy tends

to have more positive stakeholders' attitudes (less attribution of crisis responsibility, better

reputation of an organization, and higher supportive behavioral intention) than denial response

strategy. In this study, the researcher predicted that a highly ethical organization, under the

conditions of rumor and mortification, will have a halo effect that causes stakeholders to give the

highly ethical organization less attribution of crisis responsibility, better organizational

reputation, and higher supportive behavioral intention.

This study also posits the following two-way interaction hypotheses to assess the two-way

interactions of high versus low organizational ethics, transgression crisis versus rumor crisis, and

denial versus mortification response strategy on crisis responsibility, reputation, and behavioral

intention.









H2. Ethics and crisis types will have a two-way interaction effect on attribution of crisis

responsibility, such that:

H2a. Subjects in a high-ethical organization and rumor type crisis will report less

attribution of crisis responsibility to an organization than will those in a low-ethical organization

and transgression type crisis.

Figure 3-2 visualizes the expectation of the H2.

H3. Ethics and response strategies will have a two-way interaction effect on attribution of

crisis responsibility, such that:

H3a. Subjects in a high-ethical organization and mortification response will report less

attribution of crisis responsibility to an organization than will those in a low-ethical organization

and denial response crisis.

Figure 3-3 visualizes the expectation of the H3.

H4. Ethics and crisis types will have a two-way interaction effect on reputation of an

organization, such that:

H4a. Subjects in a high-ethical organization and rumor type crisis will report better

reputation of an organization than will those in a low-ethical organization and transgression type

crisis.

Figure 3-4 visualizes the expectation of the H4.

H5. Ethics and response strategies will have a two-way interaction effect on reputation of

an organization, such that:

H5a. Subjects in a high-ethical organization and mortification response will report better

reputation of an organization than will those in a low-ethical organization and denial response.

Figure 3-5 visualizes the expectation of the H5.









H6. Ethics and crisis types will have a two-way interaction effect on supportive behavioral

intention, such that:

H6a. Subjects in a high-ethical organization and rumor type crisis will report higher

supportive behavioral intention than will those in a low-ethical organization and transgression

type crisis.

Figure 3-6 visualizes the expectation of the H6.

H7. Ethics and response strategies will have a two-way interaction effect on supportive

behavioral intention, such that:

H7a. Subjects in a high-ethical organization and mortification response will report higher

supportive behavioral intention than will those in a low-ethical organization and denial response

will report the lowest supportive behavioral intention.

Figure 3-7 visualizes the expectation of the H7.















Low Ethics & Denial

Low Ethics & Mortification




High Ethics & Denial

High Ethics & Mi:-rtifica.tion


Transgression


Himh




Organ national
Reputation




Low


Hig|h Ethics & Mol:itification

SHiah Ethic: & Denial




Low Ethics & Mortification

Low Ethics & Denial
------ 1-10


Transgression


High Ethics & Mortification

High Ethics & Denial




S Low Ethic:. & Moitification

Low Ethi.:; & Denial


RurnOi Transgression
Figure 3-1. Expectation of hypothesis one.


High


Crisis
PF;p,.sibil:it.


-4-0


Rumor


Rumor


High




Supportive
Behavioral
Intention



Low


00












High




Crisis
Fe 1:..:.n.ilbilit.


t.o


Low
Ethrc-


High
_--Ethii.:


Rumor


Transgression


Crisis T:.pe

Figure 3-2. Expectation of hypothesis two.


I
Hidh




Crisis

PFe;p ':': Ibilit




Low


Low
Ethics




High
Ethics


Denial Mortification

Response Strategy
Figure 3-3. Expectation of hypotheses three.












High






Reputation


Transgression


Crisis Type

Figure 3-4. Expectation of hypotheses four.


High




Organizational
Reputation




Low


High
Ethi.::


-Low
.- Ethics


Denial


Mortification


Response Strategy

Figure 3-5. Expectation of hypotheses five.


High
Ethics





's Low
Ethics


Rumor















High


Ethic:


Low
Ethics


Rumor


Transgression


Crisis Type


Figure 3-6. Expectation of hypotheses six.


High
Ethics






Low
S,,.- Ethics


Denial


Mortification


Response Strategy


Figure 3-7. Expectation of hypotheses seven.


Hi:h


Supportive
Behavioral
Intention



Low


High




Supportive
Behavioral
Intention



Low


s
r









CHAPTER 4
METHOD

This study concentrates on the role of organizational ethics in crisis management. An

experimental design is used to examine how the level of organizational ethics is associated with

crisis responsibility, organizational reputation, and behavioral intention. Additional analyses

explore how the effectiveness of crisis types and response strategies varied according to the level

of organizational ethics.

Design

A 2 x 2 x 2 between-goups design is employed, meaning that each subject received only

one of the eight conditions. The experimental design includes the manipulation of three factors:

1) crisis type (rumor vs. transgression), 2) response strategy (denial vs. mortification), and 3)

organizational ethics (high vs. low). Dependent variables include attribution of crisis

responsibility, reputation of an organization, and stakeholders' supportive behavioral intention.

First, two types of crisis are used. One is transgression which is thought to lead to a high

responsible crisis event attribution, and the other is rumor which is thought to lead to a low

responsible crisis event attribution. In other words, according to SCCT, transgression is one of

the crisis types of the preventable cluster that produces high attributions of crisis responsibility.

Meanwhile, rumor is one of victim cluster crises that produce low attributions of crisis

responsibility. Rumor evokes stakeholders' sympathy for an organization because of their

perception that the organization might be a victim of the crisis along with them (Coombs, 2002).

Second, in the scenarios, each crisis type is matched to a crisis response strategies enlisted

in IRT. According to IRT, the mortification strategy is appropriate for a high responsibility crisis

type, which indicates that an organization is willing to accept responsibility for the crisis event

and offer a direct apology. The denial strategy is appropriate for a low responsibility crisis type,









which denies the crisis event itself or declares that other people or organizations are really

responsible for the wrongful act. However, in this study, each crisis response strategy is matched

to all crisis types because the purpose of this study is not to compare the effects of matched

versus unmatched messages; our purpose is to examine the moderating effect of organizational

ethics among the crisis types, response strategies, and dependent variables, the stakeholders'

attitudes. The scenarios are based on real and lesser known events, but the information was

manipulated to fit the needs of this study.

Next, each crisis is presented as if the crisis occurred in a high-ethical organization or a

low-ethical one. Thus, each of the four cases has two ethical level options, resulting in a total of

eight crisis scenarios. These eight scenarios were randomly assigned to subjects in each group.

The subjects were also assigned to groups randomly by giving them one of eight website

addresses that were created for each condition.

Stimulus Materials

Mock newspaper reports of eight different crisis scenarios are created with different

combinations of ethical levels, crisis types, and crisis response strategies. The eight news stories

were written by a journalist who has over 20 years news writing experience. Stories were written

in newswire style, headlines were also included to easily identify crisis types and response

strategies.

Ethics level. Two stories introducing two companies were written. The introduction story

for a high-ethical company emphasizes good relationship with stakeholders, efforts for ethical

management, and ethical award performances. On the other hand, the introduction story for a

low-ethical company includes business scandals, such as raising a slush fund and political

lobbying (see Appendix A).









Crisis type. A news story about tax evasion, insider trading, and bribery was chosen as a

sample of a transgression crisis event. Business rumor scenario about financial problems and

layoffs was selected as a sample of a rumor crisis event (see Appendix A).

Crisis response strategy. Two crisis response variables were chosen based on strategy

continuum suggested by Benoit (1995). Mortification response involved forgiveness and a direct

apology. Denial response included defensive actions such as shifting the blame and attacking the

accuser. For example, mortification response stimuli included "we sincerely apologize for all

troubles..." or "we think it is due to our company's carelessness", while denial response

included "there is no reason... and it is groundless..." or "we are going to take all possible legal

actions against people who spread the false reports" (see Appendix A).

Questionnaire

Crisis responsibility were obtained by using a six-items scale adapted from Griffin, Babin,

and Darden's (1992), McAuley, Duncan, and Russell's (1992), Cho and Gower's (2006), and

Lee's (2005) measure of responsibility and blame. The items include: "I think the company

should be blamed," "I think the company should bear the responsibility for the event," "I think

the blame for the crisis lies with the company," "I think the cause of the event is beyond the

company's control," "I think circumstances are responsible for the crisis, not the company," and

"I think the blame for the crisis lies in the circumstances." Each item was measured by a 7-point

likelihood scale ranging 1 (very strongly disagree) to 7 (very strongly agree). Among these six

items, two items "I think circumstances are responsible for the crisis, not the company" and "I

think the blame for the crisis lies in the circumstances" were reverse coded.

Organizational reputation was assessed using the six scales developed by McCroskey

(1966), Fombrun (1996) and Winkleman (1999). The reputation quotient was used to measure

organizational reputation on a 7-point scale ranging from 1 (very strongly disagree) to 7 (very









strongly agree). The items include: "I admire and respect the company," "I have a good feeling

about the company," "I trust this company to tell the truth about the incident," "The company

maintains high standards in the way it treats people," "The company is basically honest," and

"The company looks like a good company to work for."

Supportive behavioral intention was evaluated by the six items tested in previous crisis

research on potential supportive behavior (Coombs, 1999; Lyon & Cameron, 2004; Zeithaml et

al., 1996). The scale includes: "I would purchase the company's products/services," "I would

recommend the company's products/services to a friend," "I would invest in the company," "I

would complain to other customers if I experience a problem with the company's service," "I

would say negative things about the company to people," and "I would switch to a competitor if I

experience a problem with the company's service." Each item was measured by a 7-point

likelihood scale ranging 1 (very strongly disagree) to 7 (very strongly agree). Among these six

items, the researcher reverse coded subjects' responses to the two items "I would say negative

things about the company to people," and "I would switch to a competitor if I experience a

problem with the company's service." To assure a response consistency check, the

questionnaires contained four reverse-coded items. If respondents were too discrepant in their

response to the reversed items, the subjects are discarded. For example, the question, "I think the

blame for the crisis lies in the circumstances" is a reversed item for the question of"I think the

blame for the crisis lies with the company." Generally, the reversed item score is supposed to be

given oppositely to the other item. Thus, when a subject gives these two questions the same

scores, the subject was considered as to be inconsistent. In this study, if subjects responded like

that to all four reversed items, the subjects' data were discarded.









In addition, for a manipulation check, the level of (clii of an organization was measured

with a six-item scale on a 7-point Likert-type scale ranging from 1 (very strongly disagree) to 7

(very strongly agree) adopted from Bendixen and Abratt's Scale (2007) measuring ethical

standards and relationship as well as the Hansen's Scale (1992) developing the results of

Reidenbach and Robin's (1988, 1990) works. The organizational ethics used in this study was

defined as the public's perception on the ethics of an organization based on its ethical

performance in business. The question items include: "I can trust the company," "The company

is concerned with what is legal," "The company is concerned with what is morally right," "The

company is highly regarded as far as business ethics is concerned," "The company treats its

public with respect," and "The company is socially responsible."

The manipulation check for crisis types, the two types of crises were compared on six-

items. The items include: The type rumor was measured by two items including "The news story

is a rumor" and "The news story is false information." The transgression type crisis was

measured by four items "The news story is true," "The company is the main cause of this

event," "The company deceived the public," and "The company violated the law."

Last, for the manipulation check of crisis response strategies, six items that Cameron et al.

(2008) and Coombs and Schmidt (2000) developed were used. The items include: Two questions

of "The company blamed others" and "The company denied doing the event" were used in

measuring the manipulation check for the denial strategy, and four questions of "After the crisis,

the company took responsibility," "The company said it accepted responsibility for the

wrongdoing," "The company expressed apology for the incident to the public," and "The

company was very sorry for what it did" were for the mortification strategy.









Participants

The subjects in this study are graduate and undergraduate students in the United States.

One hundred sixty-four students in this study were enrolled in the graduate or undergraduate

course of the University of Florida. Twenty-eight participants were undergraduate students at

State University of New York at Oswego. Although students are not typical targets for crisis

situations, previous studies on crisis management have found no difference in responses between

students and non-student populations, which means that student samples are a good substitute

when real-world samples are unavailable (Coombs, 1999). Moreover, considering that students

are and will be potential stakeholders for many companies' products and services, selecting

college students for this study is an appropriate choice. Participants' responses to this study were

recorded and stored electronically in a data base for analyses.

Data Collection Procedure

The experiment was conducted exclusively on the Web. An experimental website for this

study was created by using Web platform program, Qualtrics. Subjects who agreed to participate

in this study were asked to sign up for the experiment by writing their email addresses. Each

participant received an email invitation which was linked to a randomly assigned experimental

condition on the Web. Students in the sample were contacted via e-mail three times. Contacts

included a pre-notification, a request for participation, and a reminder notice. All students who

participated in this online experiment were given some extra-credit by their instructors. Subjects

were asked to read the stimulus assigned to them and answer the questionnaires. The stimulus

contained the following: First, an ethics summary for either a high- or low-ethical organization

was presented, followed by a news wire story with either a mortification or denial response to

either a transgression or rumor crisis. Next, subjects received questionnaires testing for their

attitudes attribution of crisis responsibility, organizational reputation, and supportive









behavioral intention. A pre-test also was conducted prior to data collection. The manipulation

checks for the level of ethics of an organization, types of crisis, and types of crisis response

strategy were conducted in the pre-test. The pre-test was conducted by an undergraduate class in

which there were over 40 students. All students in the class were informed about the experiment

by the researcher. They received one Internet website address among the eight ones, then

subjects were asked to access to it and conduct the online experiment according to the

researcher's instruction.

Data Analyses

All statistical analyses were completed using the Statistical Package for the Social Science

(SPSS) 17.0. Descriptive statistics was used to identify the characteristics of the participants.

Exploratory factor analysis was conducted to ensure whether the constructs measuring each

variable were composed with one factor of items. Also, an independent sample t-test was

employed for the manipulation checks. As main statistical analysis methods, two-way and three-

way analysis of variance (ANOVA) and correlation analysis were used for the research question

and hypothesis testing.









CHAPTER 5
RESULTS

Descriptive Statistics

Of the total collected data, as reported above five students' responses were identified as

inconsistent and discarded because the subjects were too discrepant in their response to the

reversed items versus the non-reversed items. This resulted in a subject pool of 192.

In this study, 56% were female and 44% were male. About 67% of the participants said

they were majoring in communication, 22% were majoring in sports management, with the rest

in marketing (5%), engineering (3%), and others (3%). Nineteen percent reported they were

enrolled in graduate program and 80% in undergraduate. Of the undergraduate students, juniors

accounted for 77 responses, seniors for 66 responses, and sophomores for 12 responses. The age

of participants ranged from 19-years old to 59-years old. Regarding ethnicity, 117 (61%)

reported their race as White, 28 (15%) as Hispanic/Non-White, 19 (10%) as Black/African-

American, 12 (6%) as Asian, 1 (1%) as Native Hawaiian/other Pacific Island, and 15 (7%) were

not specified. Table 5-1 summarized the descriptive statistics for demographics of subjects.

This study used a 2 (ethics level: high or low) X 2 (crisis type: transgression or rumor) X 2

(crisis response strategy: denial or mortification) between-groups design, which means all the

192 participants read only one of the eight conditions. Thirty (15.6%) were exposed to the first

condition that consisted of high-ethical company, transgression type crisis, and denial response

strategy. Twenty-four (12.5%) were exposed to the second condition composed of high-ethical

company, transgression type crisis, and mortification response strategy. Twenty-two (11.5%)

were exposed to the third condition made up of high-ethical company, rumor type crisis, and

denial response strategy. Twenty (10.4) were exposed to the fourth condition comprising high-

ethical company, rumor type crisis, and mortification response strategy. Twenty-five (13%) were









exposed to the fifth condition consisted of low-ethical company, transgression type crisis, and

denial response strategy. Twenty-five (13%) were exposed to the sixth condition composed of

low-ethical company, transgression type crisis, and mortification response strategy. Twenty-four

(12.5%) were exposed to the seventh condition comprised of low-ethical company, rumor type

crisis, and denial response strategy. Last, twenty-two (11.5%) were exposed to the eighth

condition combined low-ethical company, rumor type crisis, and mortification response strategy.

Table 5-2 summarized the number of subjects for each condition. In other words, 96 participants

(50%) read the introduction story about high-ethical company and 96 (50%) read the

introduction story about a low-ethical company. One hundred four subjects (54.2%) were given

the news story of transgression type crisis and 88 (45.8%) were given the news story of rumor

type crisis. Also, 101 participants (52.6%) were exposed to the denial response strategy and 91

(47.4%) were exposed to the mortification response strategy.

However, because of the imbalance in the number of subjects in each cell, a weighting

function was applied to the score of subjects when the data was analyzed. The number of

subjects per group ranged from 20 to 30 so using the weighting function in SPSS, the researcher

equalized the number of each group to get the same score of 24, which was yielded by dividing

the total number of subject, 192, by the number of groups, 8.

To test whether subjects were randomly assigned to each group, one-way ANOVA was

conducted by using subject's age as a dependent variable. The results revealed that there was no

significant difference of subjects' age for each group (F (7, 184) = 1.14, p > .05). Thus, it can be

assumed that the subjects in this study were assigned randomly. Table 5-3 provides the subjects'

average age per condition.









Reliability

A principal axis factor analysis with an oblique rotation was employed to confirm that each

scale measured a single dimension. Also, the measurement reliability was examined through the

value of Cronbach's alpha. The questionnaire contained some reversed items in order to assure

the response consistency check (i.e., "Circumstances are responsible for the crisis, not the

company" and "The blame for the crisis lies in the circumstances").

The factor analysis for the items of the first dependent variable, crisis responsibility,

showed one factor accounting for 70.1% of the variance when the item of "I think the cause of

the event is beyond the company's control" was excluded. If the item was included, the factors

were divided into two dimensions. The value of Cronbach's a for the construct was .89.

The factor analysis for the items of organizational reputation indicated one factor

accounting for 84.9% of the variance when all the initial items were included. The value of

Cronbach's a for the construct was .96.

The factor analysis for the items of supportive behavioral intention showed one factor

accounting for 78.5% of the variance when three items "I would complain to other customers if

I experience a problem with the company's service," "I would say negative things about the

company to people," and "I would switch to a competitor if I experience a problem with the

company's service" were removed from the initial six items. The value of Cronbach's a for

the three-item index was .86. If the three dropped items had been included, the factors were

divided into two dimensions and the value of Cronbach's a was also low (.76).

Regarding the factor analyses for each independent variable, all six items for the construct

of ethics loaded on one factor, which accounted for 91.7% of the item variance and Cronbach's a

was .98. Also, all items for each construct of rumor type, denial response, and mortification

response loaded on one factor, which accounted for 85.5% for rumor type, 85.6% for denial









response, and 84.1% for mortification response. The reliability analysis produced an internal

consistency of .85 (Cronbach's a coefficient) for rumor type, .83 for denial response, and .94 for

mortification response.

The factor analysis for the items of the construct of transgression showed one factor which

accounted for 70.3% of the variance and had a .78 Cronbach's a coefficient when the item of

"The news story is true" was excluded,). The score of factor loading if the item had not been

deleted was very low (a = .40).

Thus, all reliability scores fell within the acceptable range of the value of Cronbach's

a, .70 (Wimmer & Dominick, 2006). The results of the factor and reliability analyses are

displayed in Table 5-4.

Manipulation Check

To validly manipulate three independent variables, as mentioned in the methods part, the

manipulation check was conducted two times both on the pretest and on the main test. The

results of the main test were consistent with those of the pretest. The pilot test was conducted

with 40 subjects under the two groups having perfectly opposite conditions high vs. low ethics,

rumor vs. transgression crisis types, and denial vs. mortification response strategies. An

independent sample t-test was used to assess the effectiveness of the experimental manipulations.

The level of ethics of an organization was manipulated using either high or low versions of

background information about the company accompanying each introduction story. Participants

were asked to rate, using a Likert-type scale ranging from 1 (very strongly disagree) to 7 (very

strongly agree), the perceived level of ethics of the company in the study. An independent

sample t-test found a significant difference between the high- and low-ethical companies (a high-

ethical company M= 6.1, S.D. = .87, a low-ethical company M= 1.9, S.D. = .64, t (38) = 17.16,

p < .001). Similarly, in the main test, there was also a significant difference between high- and









low-ethical companies (a high-ethical company M= 5.7, S.D. = 1.06, a low-ethical company M

2.1, S.D. = 1.0, t (190) = 24.17, p < .001). Table 5-5 provides of the pretest result of t-test for the

ethics level.

To assess perceptions of the crisis type, two news stories about transgression and rumor

crises were compared on the items for both transgression index and rumor index. The results

indicated significant differences in the items, t (38) = 2.79, p < .01 for the transgression type and

t (38) = 6.04, p < .001 for the rumor type. Participants rate the news story of transgression (M=

4.8, S.D. = 1.35) as more transgression type crisis than the news story of rumor (M= 3.9, S.D.

= .68) when they were asked for the transgression questionnaires. On the other hand, participants

rate the news story of rumor (M= 4.6, S.D. = 1.12) as more rumor type crisis than the news story

of transgression (M= 2.8, S.D. = .78) when they were asked for the rumor questionnaires. These

results were consistent with those of the main tests (rumor index: transgression M = 3.2, S.D. =

1.07, rumorM= 4.0, S.D. = .92, t (190) = 5.36, p < .001; transgression index: transgression M=

4.9, S.D. = 1.04, rumorM= 4.2, S.D. = .86, t (190) = 4.98, p < .001). Table 5-6 provides of the

pretest result of t-test for the crisis type.

Finally, to assess perceptions of the crisis response strategy, two news stories about denial

and mortification crises response strategies were compared on the items for both denial index

and mortification index. The results indicated significant differences in the items for the denial

response (t (38) = 9.73, p < .001) and for the mortification response (t (38) = 8.71, p < .001).

Participants rate the news story of denial (M= 5.5, S.D. = .91) as more denial response strategy

than the news story of mortification (M= 2.7, S.D. = .89) when they were asked for the

transgression questionnaires. On the other hand, participants rate the news story of mortification

(M= 4.9, S.D. = 1.08) as more mortification response strategy than the news story of denial (M=









2.0, S.D. = .95) when they were asked for the mortification questionnaires. These results were

consistent with those of the main tests (denial index: denial M= 5.0, S.D. = 1.07, mortification M

= 2.9, S.D. = 1.10, t (190) = 13.62, p <.001; mortification index: denial M= 2.6, S.D. = 1.02,

mortificationM= 4.9, S.D. = .96, t (190) = 16.09, p < .001). Table 5-7 provides the pretest result

of t-tests for the response strategy.

Hypothesis Testing

To answer the research question, Pearson correlation analysis was conducted among ethics

level variable and dependent variables. Also, a series of analyses of variance (ANOVAs) and

simple mean tests were performed in order to test each hypothesis.

The Relationships among the Level of Ethics of an Organization and Three Dependent
Variables.

The research question asked what correlation there would be between organizational

ethics, attribution of crisis responsibility, reputation of an organization, and stakeholders'

supportive behavioral intention. The Pearson correlation coefficients revealed that the level of

ethics of an organization was significantly positively related to the organizational reputation (r =

.71, p < .01) and supportive behavioral intention (r = .59, p < .01). As expected, there was a

negative relationship between the level of ethics of an organization and crisis responsibility (r = -

.35, p < .01). Also, the results revealed that crisis responsibility was significantly negatively

related to other variables, organizational reputation (r = -.57, p < .01) and supportive behavioral

intention (r = -.52, p < .01). In regard to the relationship between organizational reputation and

supportive behavioral intention, they were highly positively related each other (r = .79, p < .01).

The results of the RQ are displayed in Table 5-8.









The Three-way Effect of the Ethics Level, Crisis Type, and Response Strategy on Three
Dependent Variables.

Hypothesis 1 expected that subjects would show more positive attitudes (less attribution of

crisis responsibility, better reputation of an organization, and higher supportive behavioral

intention) when rumor and mortification condition are combined by a high-ethical organization

than any other condition. To examine H1, three dependent variables were analyzed using a 2

(ethics level: high vs. low) X 2 (crisis type: rumor vs. transgression) X 2 (response strategy:

mortification vs. denial) ANOVA.

The results of a three-way ANOVA revealed that there was no significant three-way effect

for ethics by crisis type by response strategy on any of the dependent variables. Table 5-9

summarizes the three-way ANOVA results. Figure 5-1 shows the results of the H1.

The Buffer Effect of the Organizational Ethics on Three Dependent Variables.

Hypothesis two, four, and six predicted that high-organizational ethics would show more

buffering effect on subjects' attitudes toward the organization in terms of crisis types. A two-way

analysis of variance was used to test the above hypotheses. The effects of difference of ethics

levels and crisis types were tested using 2 X 2 factorial between-subject design based on two

levels of ethics (high or low) and two types of crisis (transgression or rumor).

First, hypothesis 2 stated that the level of organizational ethics and crisis types will have a

two-way interaction effect on attribution of crisis responsibility: subjects in a high-ethical

organization and rumor type crisis will report less attribution of crisis responsibility to an

organization than will those in a low-ethical organization and transgression type crisis (H2a).

The results of two-way ANOVA revealed that there was no significant interaction effect of the

ethics level, with crisis type variable on crisis responsibility (F (1, 192) = .46, p > .05). However,

there were significant main effects of the ethics level and crisis type variables. The results









indicated a significant main effect of the ethics level on the dependent variable, crisis

responsibility (F (1, 192) = 28.28, p < .001, rp2= .131). Subjects in the high-ethical company

condition expressed weaker crisis responsibility (M= 4.4, S.D. = .81) than those in the low-

ethical company condition (M= 5.1, S.D. = .95). Also, the crisis type variable had a significant

main effect on crisis responsibility (F (1, 192) = 8.29, p < .01, rp2= .042). Subjects in the rumor

type crisis condition rated less crisis responsibility (M= 4.5, S.D. = 1.0) than those in the

transgression crisis condition (M= 4.9, S.D. = .96). Thus, H2 was not supported. The results of

the H2 are displayed in Table 5-10 and 5-13. Also, Figure 5-2 presents the results of H2.

Second, hypothesis 4 stated that the level of organizational ethics and crisis types will have

a two-way interaction effect on reputation of an organization: subjects in a high-ethical

organization and rumor type crisis will report better reputation of an organization than will those

in a low-ethical organization and transgression type crisis (H4a). The results of two-way

ANOVA revealed that there was a significant interaction effect between the ethics level and

crisis type variables on organizational reputation (F (1, 192) = 4.41, p < .05, p2 = .023). It

should be noted that the difference of organizational reputation can be stemmed form the

interaction effect of ethics level and crisis type, not from the main effect of ethics level or crisis

type, because there was the significant interaction effect of the two variables. Also, the means

showed that high ethics and rumor condition generated the best reputation of an organization (M

= 4.5, S.D. = .80) and the combination of low ethics and transgression generated the worst

reputation of an organization (M= 2.3, S.D. = .95). Thus, H4a and H4b were supported. The

results of the H4 are displayed in Table 5-11 and 5-13. Also, Figure 5-2 presents the results of

H4.









Third, hypothesis 6 stated that the level of organizational ethics and crisis types will have a

two-way interaction effect on supportive behavioral intention: subjects in a high-ethical

organization and rumor type crisis will report higher supportive behavioral intention than will

those in a low-ethical organization and transgression type crisis (H6a). There was no significant

interaction effect of the two variables, the ethics level and crisis type, on supportive behavioral

intention (F (1, 192) = .01, p > .05). The results indicated a significant main effect of the ethics

level on supportive behavioral intention (F (1, 192) = 60.14, p < .001, rp2= .242). Subjects in

the high-ethical company condition expressed stronger supportive behavioral intention (M= 3.9,

S.D. = .93) than those in the low-ethical company condition (M= 2.7, S.D. = 1.18). However, the

crisis type variable did not have a significant main effect on supportive behavioral intention (F (1,

192) = 1.29, p > .05). Thus, H6a was not supported. The results of H6 are displayed in Tables 5-

12 and 5-13. Also, Figure 5-2 presents the results of H6.

The Halo Effect of the Organizational Ethics on three Dependent Variables.

Hypothesis three, five, and seven predicted that high-organizational ethics would show

more halo effect on subjects' attitudes toward the organization in terms of crisis response

strategies. The hypotheses were analyzed using a 2 (high-ethical company and low-ethical

company) X 2 (denial response and mortification response).

First, hypothesis 3 posited that the level of organizational ethics and response strategies

will have a two-way interaction effect on attribution of crisis responsibility: subjects in a high-

ethical organization and mortification response will report less attribution of crisis responsibility

to an organization than will those in a low-ethical organization and denial response crisis (H3a).

According to the results of two-way ANOVA, the interaction effect of ethics level and response

strategies was not significant (F (1, 192) = .85, p > .05). However, the results revealed a

significant main effect of ethics variable on the dependent variable, crisis responsibility (F (1,









192) = 25.83, p < .001, p,2 = .121). The attribution of crisis responsibility was less in the high-

ethical company condition (M= 4.4, S.D. = .89) than in the low-ethical company condition (M=

5.1, S.D. = S.D. = .97). Also, there was a statistically significant main effect for crisis response

strategies on crisis responsibility, F (1, 192) = 15.53, p < .001, rp2 = .076. Subjects thought

stakeholders would be less likely to attribute crisis responsibility to the denial response condition

(M= 4.5, S.D. = 1.0) than to the mortification condition (M= 5.0, S.D. = .91). This result is

opposite to previous studies on the effects of crisis response strategy. The finding is examined in

the discussion section. Thus, H3 did not receive support. Table 5-14 and 5-17 presents the results

of the H3. Also, Figure 5-3 presents the results of H3.

Second, hypothesis 5 posited that the level of organizational ethics and response strategy

will have a two-way interaction effect on reputation of an organization: subjects in a high-ethical

organization and mortification will report better reputation of an organization than will those in a

low-ethical organization and denial response (H5a). The results of two-way ANOVA revealed

that there was no significant interaction effect of the ethics level and response strategies on

organizational reputation (F (1, 192) = .60, 192, p > .05). Also, the results revealed that there

were significant main effects of the ethics level and response strategy variables. The results

indicated a significant main effect of the ethics level on the dependent variable, organizational

reputation (F(1, 192) = 148.90, p < .001, i2 = .442). The perceptions of organizational

reputation was more favorable in the high-ethical company condition (M= 4.1, S.D. = 1.0) than

in the low-ethical company condition (M= 2.3, S.D. = 1.04). Also, response strategy variable

had a significant main effect on organizational reputation variable (F (1, 192) = 5.07, p < .05, r2

= .026). Respondents thought stakeholders would be more likely to show high organizational

reputation in the mortification condition (M= 3.4, S.D. = 1.37) than in the denial response









condition (M= 3.1, S.D. = 1.33). H5 was not supported. Table 5-15 and 5-17 presents the results

of the H5. Also, Figure 5-3 provides the results of H5.

Third, hypothesis 7 posited that the level of organizational ethics and response strategies

will have an interaction effect on supportive behavioral intention: subjects in a high-ethical

organization and mortification response will report higher supportive behavioral intention than

will those in a low-ethical organization and denial response (H7a). There was no significant

interaction effect of the two variables, the ethics level and response strategy, on supportive

behavioral intention (F (1, 192) = .08, p > .05). The results revealed a significant main effect of

ethics variable on the dependent variable, supportive behavioral intention (F (1, 192) = 58.98, p

< .001, qp2 = .590). The perceptions of supportive behavioral intention was more favorable in the

high-ethical company condition (M= 3.9, S.D. = .93) than in the low-ethical company condition

(M= 2.7, S.D. = 1.18). However, there was no significant main effect of response strategies on

supportive behavioral intention (F (1, 192) = .29, p > .05). Thus, H7 was not supported. Table 5-

16 and 5-17 presents the results of the H7. Figure 5-3 presents the results of H7.









Table 5-1. Descriptive statistics for demographics of subjects.
Item n %

Gender
Female 108 56
Male 84 44
Age
19 years 13 7
20 years 42 22
21 years 62 31
22 years 20 10
23 years 13 7
24-30 years 28 15
Over than 30 years 14 8
Education Level
Graduate 37 19
Undergraduate 155 81
Major
Communication 128 67
Sports Management 42 22
Marketing 10 5
Engineering 6 3
Others 6 3
Ethnicity
White 117 61
Hispanic / Non-White 28 15
Black / African-American 19 10
Asian 12 6
Native Hawaiian / Other Pacific Island 1 1
Not Specified 15 7









Table 5-2. The number of subjects for each condition.
Transgression (%)
Denial Mortification
High-Ethics 30 (15.6) 24 (12.5)
Low-Ethics 25 (13) 25 (13)


Rumor (%)
Denial Mortification
22(11.5) 20(10.4)
24 (12.5) 22 (11.5)


Table 5-3. Subjects' average age per condition.
Transgression (S.D.) Rumor (S.D.)
Denial Mortification Denial Mortification F-value Significance
High-Ethics 21(1.3) 24 (6.0) 22(3.0) 22(3.1)
1.14 .342
Low-Ethics 23 (5.7) 22 (4.4) 24 (8.5) 24 (8.6)
df = 7 / 184









Table 5-4. Factor analysis and reliability analysis for indices.
Factor Cronbach's
Item
Loadings a
Crisis Responsibility
The company should be blamed. .877
The company should bear the responsibility for the event. .853
The blame for the crisis lies with the company. .816 .89
Circumstances are responsible for the crisis, not the company.t .832
The blame for the crisis lies in the circumstances.t .806
Organizational Reputation
I admire and respect the company. .946
I have a good feeling about the company. .940
I trust this company to tell the truth about the incident. .933
.96
The company maintains high standards in the way it treats people. .928
The company is basically honest. .906
The company looks like a good company to work for. .878
Supportive Behavioral Intention
I would purchase the company's products/services. .943
I would recommend the company's products/services to a friend. .935 .86
I would invest in the company. .769
Ethics
I can trust the company. .968
The company is concerned with what is legal. .944
The company is concerned with what is morally right. .976
The company is highly regarded as far as business ethics is .953 .98
concerned.
The company treats its public with respect. .942
The company is socially responsible. .963
Crisis Type
Transgression
The company is the main cause of this event. .750
The company deceived the public. .914 .78
The company violated the law. .844
Rumor
The news story is a rumor. .936
.85
The news story is false information. .936









Table 5-4. Continued
Factor Cronbach's
Item
Loadings a
Response Strategy
Denial
The company blamed others. .926
.83
The company denied doing the event. .926
Mortification
After the crisis, the company took responsibility. .905
The company said it accepted responsibility for the wrongdoing. .934
.94
The company expressed apology for the incident to the public. .943
The company was very sorry for what it did. .886
Note. t Reversed items




Table 5-5. Manipulation check for ethics level.
High (n=20) Low (n=20)
M (S.D.) M (S.D.) t-value df Significance
Ethics Level 6.1 (.87) 1.9 (.64) 17.16 38 p < .001




Table 5-6. Manipulation check for crisis type.
Transgression Index
Transgression (n=20) Rumor (n=20)
M (S.D.) M (S.D.) t-value df Significance
Crisis Type 4.8 (1.35) 3.9 (.68) 2.79 38 p < .01


Rumor Index
Transgression (n=20) Rumor (n=20) t-value df Significance
Crisis Type 2.8 (.78) 4.6 (1.12) 6.04 38 p < .001









Table 5-7. Manipulation check for response strategy.
Denial Index
Denial (n=20) Mortification (n=20)
M (S.D.) M (S.D.)


t-value


Significance


Response Strategy 5.5 (.91) 2.7 (.89) 9.73 38 p < .001


Mortification Index
Denial (n=20) Mortification (n=20) t-value df Significance
Response Strategy 2.0 (.95) 4.9 (1.08) 8.71 38 p < .001


Table 5-8. Correlation between the level of ethics, crisis responsibility, organizational reputation,
and supportive behavioral intention.
Ethics Responsibility Reputation Behavioral Intention


Ethics --.35** .71** .59**
Responsibility -.57** -.52**
Reputation .79**
** p < .01



Table 5-9. Univariate f-values for the dependent variables.
Source Crisis Organizational Supportive Behavioral
Source
Responsibility Reputation Intention
Ethics (A) 28.62*** 161.48*** 58.73***
Crisis Type (B) 8.89** 6.57* 1.25
Response Strategy (C) 16.80*** 4.92* .33
AbyB .61 4.41* .00
A by C 1.17 .64 .08
B by C .46 .41 .43
AbyB by C .20 1.32 .23
df = 7 / 184
*p<.05 **p<.01 ***p<.001









Table 5-10. Univariate analysis of variance for crisis responsibility by ethics and crisis type.
Source SS df F p ns
Total 4495.52 192 -
Ethics 24.06 1 28.28 < .001
Crisis Type 7.05 1 8.29 < .01
Ethics by Crisis Type .40 1 .46 .496





Table 5-11. Univariate analysis of variance for organizational reputation by ethics and crisis
type.
Source SS df F p ns
Total 2357.61 192 -
Ethics 159.17 1 158.27 < .001
Crisis Type 6.45 1 6.42 < .05
Ethics by Crisis Type 4.44 1 4.41 < .05





Table 5-12. Univariate analysis of variance for supportive behavioral intention by ethics and
crisis type.
Source SS df F p ns
Total 2342.56 192 -
Ethics 69.08 1 60.14 <.001
Crisis Type 1.49 1 1.29 .257
Ethics by Crisis Type .01 1 .01 .976









Table 5-13. Means and standard deviations for crisis responsibility, organizational reputation,
and supportive behavioral intention by ethics level and crisis type.
Dependent Ethics
Variable Level Transgression Rumor Total
Crisis High Mean 4.6 4.1 4.4


Responsibility


S.D.


Low Mean
S.D.

Total Mean
S.D.


Organizational
Reputation


High


.84
(54)
5.2
.99
(50)
4.9
.96
(104)


Mean
S.D.


Low Mean
S.D.

Total Mean
S.D.


High Mean
S.D.

Low Mean
S.D.

Total Mean
S.D.


3.8
1.05
(54)
2.3
.95
(50)
3.1
1.26
(104)

3.8
.99
(54)
2.6
.98
(50)
3.2
1.15
(104)


.89
(42)
4.9
.95
(46)
4.5
1.00
(88)


.81
(96)
5.1
.95
(96)
4.7
.99
(192)

4.1
1.00
(96)
2.3
1.04
(96)
3.2
1.36
(192)

3.9
.93
(96)
2.7
1.18
(96)
3.3
1.22
(192)


4.5
.80
(42)
2.4
1.14
(46)
3.4
1.45
(88)

4.0
.86
(42)
2.8
1.37
(46)
3.3
1.30
(88)


Behavioral
Intention









Table 5-14. Univariate analysis of variance for crisis responsibility by ethics and response
strategy.
Source SS df F p ns
Total 4495.52 192 -
Ethics 21.16 1 25.83 < .001
Response Strategy 12.72 1 15.53 <.001
Ethics by Response Strategy .70 1 .85 .358


Table 5-15. Univariate analysis of variance for organizational reputation by ethics and response
strategy.
Source SS df F p ns
Total 2357.61 192 -
Ethics 153.67 1 148.90 < .001
Response Strategy 5.23 1 5.07 < .05
Ethics by Response Strategy .62 1 .60 .439





Table 5-16. Univariate analysis of variance for supportive behavioral intention by ethics and
response strategy.
Source SS df F p ns
Total 2342.56 192 -
Ethics 68.07 1 58.98 < .001
Response Strategy .34 1 .29 .590
Ethics by Response Strategy .09 1 .08 .785









Table 5-17. Means and standard deviations for crisis responsibility, organizational reputation,
and supportive behavioral intention by ethics level and response strategy.
Dependent Ethics
Variable Level Denial Mortification Total
Crisis High Mean 4.1 4.7 4.4
Responsibility S.D. .78 .90 .89
(52) (44) (96)
Low Mean 4.9 5.3 5.1
S.D. 1.05 .85 .97
(49) (47) (96)
Total Mean 4.5 5.0 4.7
S.D. 1.00 .91 .99
(101) (91) (192)

Organizational High Mean 4.0 4.2 4.1
Reputation S.D. .88 1.13 1.00
(52) (44) (96)
Low Mean 2.1 2.6 2.3
S.D. .99 1.05 1.04
(49) (47) (96)
Total Mean 3.1 3.4 3.2
S.D. 1.33 1.37 1.36
(101) (91) (192)

Behavioral High Mean 3.9 3.8 3.9
Intention S.D. .81 1.07 .93
(52) (44) (96)
Low Mean 2.7 2.7 2.7
S.D. 1.20 1.17 1.18
(49) (47) (96)
Total Mean 3.3 3.2 3.3
S.D. 1.19 1.26 1.22
(101) (91) (192)













Crisis Responsibility


5.2 5.4



4.6 4--
4.6


--High

---- Low


Rumor Transgression


Mortification


4.7


4.
3.7


Rumor


Denial


Transgression


Organizational Reputation


,-Z-----z---
2.5 2.7
Rumor Transgression


Mortification


--High

-" -Low


4.4


2.3.8
2.3


Rumor


Denial


Transgression


Supportive Behavioral Intention


3.9 3.7

2.7 2.6
-...... .


--High
---- Low


4.1 3.8

2.8 2.5
-2.5


Rumor Transgression Rumor Transgression


Mortification Denial

Figure 5-1. Ethics by crisis type by response strategy three-way interactions.













Supportive Behavioral Intention


5.2
4.9..--- Low
SHigh
4.6
4.1 4




Rumor Transgression


4.5 3.8

High
Low
2.4 ---.----
2.3
Rumor Transgres-on
Rumor Transgredsion


4 4 _3.8
High
2.8 ..... ... Low
2.-------------L
2 2.6

Rumor Transgresson


Figure 5-2. Ethics by crisis type.


Crisis Responsibility


5.3
4.9 ,---Low

---- ig
4.1 4.7


Dnial Mortif n
DeniaI Mortilfcation


Organizational Reputation


4.2
4
4 -- High

2.6
2.1 _--" Low

Denial Mortiication


Supportive Behavioral Intention


3.9 High

2.7 ----
2.7

Denial Mortifcattion


Figure 5-3. Ethics by response strategy.


Crisis Responsibility


Organizational Reputation









CHAPTER 6
DISCUSSION

Summary of Key Findings

The results of this study of organizational ethics in crisis communication have not only

extended our understanding of the role and value of organizational ethics, but also demonstrated

their effects and importance in crisis communication.

This study yielded some critical results. The level of organizational ethic had significantly

positive relationship with organizational reputation (r = .71) and supportive behavioral intention

(r = .59) and a negative relationship with attribution of crisis responsibility (r = -.35). In regard

to a three-way effect, this study did not show the significant effect of ethics level by crisis type

by response strategy on the attribution of crisis responsibility, organizational reputation, or

supportive behavioral intention. However, there was the interaction effect of ethics level by crisis

type on the organizational reputation. Another result in this study is that the ethics level variable

had main effects on all three dependent variables, while crisis type and response strategy

variables did not have the main effect on the supportive behavioral intention variable.

First, the answers to the research question indicated that the level of ethics of an

organization has positive relationships with organizational reputation and supportive behavioral

intention and a negative relationship with attribution of crisis responsibility. This finding can be

explained in the context that stakeholders' perceptions of the level of organizational ethics can

play a positive role in crisis management. The results revealed that subjects were more likely to

attribute a better reputation and less crisis responsibility to a highly ethical company when the

company faced a rumor crisis than when it faced a transgression crisis. However, these findings

were not found regardless of the types of crises that a less ethical company faced. Thus, it is









possible that the ethics an organization possesses could change the effects of its crisis

communication and management.

Likewise, according to the results of each two-way ANOVA, between ethics level and

crisis type and between ethics level and response strategy, the ethics level variable had main

effects on all dependent variables. Meanwhile, the variables of crisis type and response strategy

had main effects on only two dependent variables. For example, with regard to supportive

behavioral intention, there was no significant difference according to crisis type and response

strategy variables. Only the ethics level variable had a main effect on the supportive behavioral

intention variable. This result indicates the importance of understanding the moderating

influence of the ethics level variable on organizational crisis management.

Second, an interaction effect was found only in the combination of ethics level and crisis

type to organizational reputation. This finding strengthens crisis communication scholars'

suggestions about organizational reputation. Many scholars have argued that organizational

reputation is one of the most susceptible organizational assets in a crisis (Allen & Caillouet,

1994; Benoit, 1995; Benoit & Pang, 2008; Brinson & Benoit, 1999). Thus, they defined the

ultimate goal of crisis management as the reduction or elimination of organizational reputation

damage from a crisis. For example, Benoit and Pang (2008) said that organizational reputation is

so strongly associated with a company's business activities, such as the consumer's willingness

to purchase its goods and services, the government's regulation of its actions, or the price of its

stocks, that organizational reputation can not only influence them, but also be influenced by them.

Third, in regard to the three-way interaction effect, the researcher expected a mortification

response to a rumor crisis communicated by a highly ethical organization to have more favorable

influence on attributed crisis responsibility, organizational reputation, and supportive behavioral









intention than any other condition. Although the three-way interaction effect was not found, an

important fact that can be gleaned from the results is that it is possible that the previous

suggestion insisting that a mortification response is the panacea in crisis might be false. In fact, it

is interesting to note that unlike the expectations of hypotheses 3, the denial response strategy let

stakeholders attribute the least crisis responsibility to an organization regardless of which level

of ethics and which type of crisis were considered. Recently, some crisis scholars have raised

questions about the effectiveness of apology or mortification response strategy (Coombs &

Holladay, 2008). This finding will be discussed further in the implication section.

The above results of this study have both academic and practical implications for those

who are interested in the topic of organizational ethics management and crisis dynamics.

Theoretical Implications

The results of the research questions were consistent with past research examining the

relationships between attribution of crisis responsibility, organizational reputation, and

behavioral intention. The findings of this study supported the results of SCCT (Coombs, 2008)

that "the stronger the attributions of crisis responsibility, the more the crisis can damage the

organizational reputation and, in turn, affect future interactions with the organization" and that "a

negative reputation should result in less supportive behavior from stakeholders, while a positive

reputation should engender more" (pp. 268). The findings of this study extended previous results

by revealing the direct relationship between attributed crisis responsibility and supportive

behavioral intention. It confirmed that attributed crisis responsibility is negatively related to all

variables the ethics level of an organization, organizational reputation, and supportive

behavioral intention. More theoretical research is needed to determine the antecedent factors that

may affect stakeholders' perception of crisis responsibility in order to identify the role of crisis

responsibility attribution in the process of crisis management.









The findings of the role of organizational ethics in a crisis have theoretical implications

for researchers in the field of crisis communication. For example, the analysis found no main

effect of crisis type and response strategy on supportive behavioral intention. However, the

difference of supportive behavioral intention was found for the level of ethics variable.

Persuasion theories such as the Theory of Reasoned Action (Fishbein & Ajzen, 1975), the

Theory of Planned Behavior (Ajzen, 1991), and the Accessibility Theory (Fazio & Roskos-

Ewoldsen, 1994) explain the process in which the final aspect, behavioral intention or actual

behavior, is controlled by many antecedent indicators or factors such as beliefs, motivation,

attitude, subjective norms, and so on.

We may conclude that stakeholders' supportive behavioral intentions in crisis situations

can be controlled by their perception of organizational ethics, not by crisis type and response

strategy, which means that supportive behavioral intention in crisis environments may be

affected more by long-term relationships with stakeholders or their perceptions and evaluations

of an organization than by other short-term based factors such as crisis type or response strategy.

From a theoretical viewpoint, this conclusion may emphasize not only the importance of long-

term relationship with stakeholders through organization's ethical business performances and

CSR activities, but also the needs of systematical crisis management, and in turn, result in

expanding the range of crisis research in terms of pre-, during-, and post-levels.

In regard to the effectiveness of response strategy, people are likely to think that an

organization using a mortification response is more responsible for a crisis than an organization

using a denial response. In other words, stakeholders may act more favorably towards the

company denying crisis responsibility than the company apologizing for the crisis. It is possible

that, in comparison to the denial response strategy, mortification might not guarantee a halo or









buffer effect in crisis management. This suggestion is along the same lines as recent study

results. Some recent research denied apology as the best response strategy and pointed out that

the value of an apology has been overestimated in crisis communication (Coombs & Holladay,

2008). Moreover, the results of different response strategies provide more questions than answers

when considering that the denial response caused subjects to have more a favorable attitude in

regardless of the ethical level of the organization. Thus, we can assume that the effectiveness of

response strategy would not differ according to the endogenous factors of an organization such

as its ethics or image, but rather, according to exogenous factors such as the victims, crisis type,

crisis development phase, and so forth. Such factors should be considered in order to examine

and test the crisis response strategy effect.

Practical Implications

Experimental research in crisis communication can help crisis managers make better

informed decisions (Coombs & Holladay, 2008; Hwang & Cameron, 2009; Jin & Cameron,

2007; Kim & Yang, 2009; Lyon & Cameron, 2004; Payne, 2006). This study provides valuable

insights into how important organizational ethics are, what factors can affect stakeholders'

perceptions and attitudes, and how effects can differ in crisis management.

One practical implication of this study for crisis management practitioners is that the

level of organizational ethics is one of very important factors in crisis communication. As the

perception of an organization's ethics cannot be created in a day, it is important for all persons in

charge of an organization including crisis managers to keep ethical policies in mind whenever

they interact with the public and foster relationships with stakeholders. Such critical, pre-crisis

management activities may lead to people considering the organization as a highly ethical one.

To this end, an organization needs to issue and announce the code of ethics that can help

its employees conduct their tasks in accordance with the ethical standards. The code of ethics









usually includes honesty, transparency, openness, responsible publication, social responsibility,

legality, human subject protection, and so on (Davis, 2002). In addition, public relations and

crisis managers may follow the universal ethical principles suggested by Gert (1988), Kohlberg

(1981, 1984), and Piaget (1965). Baker and Martinson (2001) also listed five criteria to evaluate

the ethics levels of public relations activities: authenticity, respect, truthfulness, equity, and

social responsibility. In fact, Coleman and Wilkins (2009) evaluated the moral development

scores of professionals using these five criteria. Public relations professionals ranked fourth

highest in moral development, along with journalists and nurses. Seminarians and philosophers

ranked highest, followed by physicians.

The findings of this study also reflect a better sense of crisis management in terms of

which crisis strategies should be implemented first and which should be developed most

cautiously. Since attribution of crisis responsibility is negatively related to organizational ethics,

reputation, and behavioral intention, people are likely to have negative attitudes toward an

organization facing a crisis when they think that the organization is responsible for the crisis.

Thus, in the first phase of a crisis, the crisis manager should make plans to lessen the degree to

which publics attribute crisis responsibility to the organization. Crisis management practitioners

should also develop crisis strategies for protecting the organization's reputation from the crisis.

The results of this study reveal that organizational reputation can be more easily affected by

crisis than any other attributes. Druckenmiller (1993) noted that organizational reputation should

be given continual attention because it is the sum of many parts of an organization's assets

including its products or services, years of recognition equity, a well-known CEO, sponsorship,

and advertising. Hence, the crisis manager must strategize for organizational reputation because









it is considered not only the most important asset that should be protected in crisis, but also the

most susceptible asset that can be damaged in crisis.

Lastly, crisis practitioners must exercise utmost care in choosing the right response to a

crisis situation. As discussed, the results of this study indicated that stakeholders tend to think

that a company with a mortification response is more responsible for a crisis than a company

with a denial response is, but it would be naive for practitioners to believe that a denial response

always has better results than a mortification response. Crisis managers should focus on the other

results of this study, in which the worst attitude was also shown in denial response for

organizational reputation. Therefore, crisis practitioners need to choose the best response

strategy by considering organizational ethics level and crisis type as well as the goal of crisis

management.

Limitations and Future Studies

This study has identified the importance of organizational ethics and provided answers to

questions about its dynamics in a crisis situation. However, many limitations and questions

remain. One limitation of this study is the subjects. Although previous research reports that there

is no difference in response between students and non-student populations (Coombs, 1999), it is

difficult to generalize the results of this study using student subjects only. Moreover, this study

was based not on random sampling, but convenience sampling, which may have resulted in a

pool dominated by students in specific majors (i.e., communications or sports management).

Therefore, the results should not be generalized to all stakeholders in crises.

A second limitation is that only a small set of conditions was tested in the present

research. SCCT (Coombs & Holladay, 2002) and IRT (Benoit, 1995) suggest thirteen types of

crisis and fourteen kinds of response strategy. This study examined organizational ethics in only

transgression and rumor crises combined with denial and mortification responses. Other crisis









types and crisis response strategies were not tested in this study. Thus, the results are restricted to

limited crisis situations and should not be generalized to other crisis types or response strategies.

It should be also noted that an online experiment has the problems of either internal or

external validity, which may have an impact on its results in that not only may online

experiments attract only highly motivated subjects, but also lead to more subjects dropping out in

the process (Wimmer & Dominick, 2006). Thus, as Wimmer & Dominick (2006) suggested, an

online experiment would be an appropriate alternative method when it desires to study "a

population segment other than college students" or when "tight control of experimental setting is

not a crucial element of the study" (pp. 252).

In addition, this study did not examine the causes and effects among the variables of

attributed crisis responsibility, organizational reputation, and behavioral intention, but rather

found out the relationships among them through correlation analysis. However, these factors may

be intermediate or moderating variables. Therefore, it is hoped that this study will inspire further

research into the examination of the factors that affect stakeholders' attitudes towards

organizations facing crisis, using path analyses through methods like Structural Equation

Modeling. Moreover, although this study contributes to a general understanding of the

relationship between organizational ethics and crisis communication through controlled

experimental research, future studies should seek to observe the effectiveness of organizational

ethics in crisis through in-depth interviews with public relations and crisis practitioners as well as

case studies in a variety of crisis contexts and participant observation.

This study is an initial study that examined organizational ethics' role in crisis

management. The concept of ethics may be one of the factors indicating the degree to which an

organization has relationships with its stakeholders. Thus, future study is necessary to extend to









the concept of relationships with publics by focusing on how stakeholders use their emotions and

images to attribute crisis responsibility to an organization. A relational approach to crisis

management will provide insights into how stakeholders perceive crisis situations, help crisis

managers determine which strategies are best to rebuild relationships between an organization

and stakeholders, and protect organizational reputations (Coombs, 2000; Lyon & Cameron,

2004).

This study used traditional, newspaper-style response materials. Further research is

needed to understand the use of new media in crisis communication. Considering that crisis

situations require timely, mediated responses addressing targeted stakeholders, new media may

play a critical role in communicating with stakeholders because, unlike traditional media, new

media have some dynamic features such as fast distribution of information, two-way

communication, and customized messages. Therefore, future studies using new media response

stimuli could yield different findings and insights.

Finally, from the standpoint of public relations, future research is necessary to examine

the function and importance of public relations leadership in crisis management by comparing it

to those of legal and financial departments. Despite the importance of the relationship between

an organization and its stakeholders in a crisis situation, most crisis managers have dealt with

crises by using legal or financial viewpoints. Thus, legal and financial departments have been

given priority in resolving crises. However, it is possible for public relations communication and

leadership to contribute to handling crises and conflicts. In fact, previous studies have already

confirmed that public relations leadership can affect the effectiveness of persuasive tasks and

organizational problem solving (Werder & Holtzhausen, 2009). It would be interesting to explore









how public relations leadership affects conflict resolution and what types of public relations

leadership can influence the strategic decision making process in a crisis situation.









APPENDIX A
STIMULUS MATERIALS

Introduction Stories of a High-Ethical and Low-Ethical Company



A High-Ethical Company, Jack & Hill.

Jack & Hill (J&H), the leading health and hygiene company that makes diapers, feminine care
products, facial tissue and bathroom tissue, is famous for its more than 25 years of social
contribution that have had an impact on business performance. Its high-profile environmental
campaign, Keep U.S. Green, has played a crucial role in enhancing the company's reputation and
building consumer trust.

This consumer trust has helped the J&H achieve economic growth, despite the backdrop of the
global economic downturn in 2008 and 2009. Their economic growth stemmed from continued
efforts to build an innovative corporate culture with life-long learning programs and family-
friendly management and to fulfill its corporate social responsibilities by conducting ethical
management and environmental management.

As a result of such efforts, in 2008, this company received the highest grade in American
Business Ethics Index (ABEX) from the Institute for Industry Policy Studies and in 2007, the
most socially responsible. In addition, J&H was the first to be certified as a family-friendly
company by the U.S. government and according to a 2008 survey conducted by Incruit, an online
job portal site, the company was selected as one of the best companies to work for by U.S.
university students. Most of all, in 2009, the J&H was named the most admired company for a
sixth consecutive year by International Management Association Consulting.










A Low-Ethical Company, Jack & Hill.


Jack & Hill (J&H), founded in 1952, has diversified its business portfolio to become the Nation's
10th largest conglomerate in terms of assets. It has 34 domestic affiliates and a global network
of 43 branches and subsidiaries in three core business sectors: Manufacturing & Construction,
Finance, and Services & Leisure.

Despite its huge business size, J&H has never been listed among ethical or admirable companies.
Instead, the company has been accused of unethical and illegal business scandals several times
over the past decades. For example, in 2009, this company was indicted for illegal political
donations in 2008 and for illegally lobbying lawmakers. The company developed a slush fund
through unscrupulous accounting and used the slush fund to finance millions of dollars in illegal
political donations to the two presidential campaign camps. The company's chairman was
sentenced to three years in prison for putting together the huge sum of money and sliding it
under the table to political benefactors.

This is not the first run-in with the law. J&H's chairman was arrested in 2000 on charge of
violating foreign currency rules. Recently, the chairman beat bar employees in revenge for an
attack on his son at a downtown saloon and at a construction site. The Court gave him a three-
year suspended sentence, and ordered him to do 200 hours of community service.










Copies of News Stories


Transgression and Denial



Jack & Hill Denies All Allegations
CHICAGO (AP) The Jack & Hill (J&H) chairman was arrested on allegations of tax evasion,
insider trading and bribery. The company is suspected of evading twenty-nine million dollars in
capital gains taxes, pocketing twenty million dollars in profits from insider trading and giving
two million dollars in bribes to a former chief of the Ministry for Health, Welfare and Family
Affairs (MHWF) in a bid to acquire an MHWF affiliate at a price cheaper than that offered by
another bidder, all between 2008 and 2009.
J&H denied the allegation today and released an official statement. "We cannot but think
that there are whistle blowers with harmful intentions against our company, because it is so
groundless," said the spokesperson for J&H. The lawyer of J&H said it is going to take all
possible legal actions against people who spread the false reports and is seeking legal recourse
against Internet users who have distributed the false reports.




Rumor and Denial



Jack & Hill Denies Biz Rumors
CHICAGO (AP) There have been rumors that Jack & Hill (J&H) may sell some of its biggest
affiliates, as the chairman decided to convert up to $25 billion of its preferred stock into common
stock. This would increase the stake in the firm from 8 percent to 36 percent. Among
stockholders, there is a speculation that J&H is so suffering from serious financial troubles that it
would have to carry out massive layoffs before selling some affiliates.
However, J&H reiterated yesterday that it will not put some of the biggest affiliates up for
sale. "The affiliates are markets where J&H enjoys stable, continued growth and is profitable.
There is no reason to sell the business units," the chairman said in a press conference. "We
cannot but think that there are people spreading the rumor with harmful intentions against our
company, because it is so groundless and we have been constantly saying so," said the
spokesperson for J&H.









Transgression and Mortification


Jack & Hill Apologizes All Allegations
CHICAGO (AP) The Jack & Hill (J&H) chairman was arrested on allegations of tax evasion,
insider trading and bribery. The company is suspected of evading twenty-nine million dollars in
capital gains taxes, pocketing twenty million dollars in profits from insider trading and giving
two million dollars in bribes to a former chief of the Ministry for Health, Welfare and Family
Affairs (MHWF) in a bid to acquire an MHWF affiliate at a price cheaper than that offered by
another bidder, all between 2008 and 2009.
J&H issued a statement that the company will admit all wrongdoing in an ongoing
investigation into corruption allegations. "We sincerely apologize for all the troubles we caused
you with regard to the special investigation. We will assume all legal and moral responsibility.
We will accept the special counsel's investigation results and do our best to prevent such things
from happening again" said the spokesperson for J&H.




Rumor and Mortification



Jack & Hill Apologizes Biz Rumors
CHICAGO (AP) There have been rumors that Jack & Hill (J&H) may sell some of its biggest
affiliates, as the chairman decided to convert up to $25 billion of its preferred stock into common
stock. This would increase the stake in the firm from 8 percent to 36 percent. Among
stockholders, there is a speculation that J&H is so suffering from serious financial troubles that it
would have to carry out massive layoffs before selling some affiliates.
The company's chairman apologized for causing social trouble and released an official
statement. "I think it is due to our company's carelessness," said the chairman. He pledged that,
despite the appearance of the financial troubles at the company, J&H is financially sound so that
he would do his utmost to transform the problem into an organizational plan that can win the
trust and love from the citizens.









APPENDIX B
QUESTIONNAIRE

THANKS FOR AGREEING TO PARTICIPATE
IN THE EXPERIMENTAL RESEARCH SURVEY!


The questionnaire should take only about 15 minutes to complete. This survey is not designed to
figure out your knowledge about crisis management. Thus, there is no right or wrong answer. Just
answer the questions according to your thoughts and feelings. Your answers will be used only for
statistical purposes and will remain strictly confidential.

Once you begin the survey, please do not leave the survey website for the validity of the study.



Please read the introduction story of a company and the news wire story about the company
carefully and answer all questions.





Present two stimuli











* After reading the materials, how would you think about the responsibility of this event?
Please circle the number that best represents your response on the 7-point scale provided, where
1 equals "Very Strongly Disagree" and 7 equals "Very Strongly Agree."
Very Very
Strongly Strongly
Disagree Agree
1 I think the company should be
2, 4 6
blamed.
2 I think the company should bear ;
the responsibility for the event.
3 I think the blame for the crisis 3
lies with the company.
4 I think the cause of the event is
beyond the company's control.
5 I think circumstances are
responsible for the crisis, not the 1 3 5 6 7
company.
6 I think the blame for the crisis
lies in the circumstances.


- After reading the materials, how would you evaluate the reputation of the company?
Please circle the number that best represents your response on the 7-point scale provided, where
1 equals "Very Strongly Disagree" and 7 equals "Very Strongly Agree."
Very Very
Strongly Strongly
Disagree Agree
1 I admire and respect the 7
company.
2 I have a good feeling about the
company.
3 I trust this company to tell the
truth about the incident.
4 The company maintains high
standards in the way it treats 3 5 6
people.
5 The company is basically honest. 2 5 6 7
6 The company looks like a good
company to work for.











- After reading the materials, how would you support the company?
Please circle the number that best represents your response on the 7-point scale provided, where
1 equals "Very Strongly Disagree" and 7 equals "Very Strongly Agree."
Very Very
Strongly Strongly
Disagree Agree
1 I would purchase the company's 5
products/services.
2 I would recommend the
company's products/services to a 2 3 5 6 7
friend.
3 I would invest in the company. 2 3 5 6 7
4 I would complain to other
customers if I experience a I
problem with the company's
service.
5 I would say negative things 2 4 5 6
about the company to people.
6 I would switch to a competitor if
I experience a problem with the 2 3 5 6 7
company's service.


- Please check the extent to which you agree with the following statement about the company?
Please circle the number that best represents your response on the 7-point scale provided, where
1 equals "Very Strongly Disagree" and 7 equals "Very Strongly Agree."
Very Very
Strongly Strongly
Disagree Agree
1 I can trust the company. 2 3 4 5 6 7
2 The company is concerned with ,
what is legal. 4
3 The company is concerned with
what is morally right.
4 The company is highly regarded
as far as business ethics is 3 4 5
concerned.
5 The company treats its public ,
with respect.
6 The company is socially 5 6
responsible.


Please check the extent to which you agree with the following statement about the company?










Please circle the number that best represents your response on the 7-point scale provided, where
1 equals "Very Strongly Disagree" and 7 equals "Very Strongly Agree."
Very Very
Strongly Strongly
Disagree Agree
1 The news story is a rumor. 3 4
2 The news story is false
information.
3 The news story is true. 2 4
4 The company is the main cause
of this event.
5 The company deceived the
public.
6 The company violated the law. 2 4 5 6


- Please check the extent to which you agree with the following statement about the
company's response to the event?
Please circle the number that best represents your response on the 7-point scale provided, where
1 equals "Very Strongly Disagree" and 7 equals "Very Strongly Agree."
Very Very
Strongly Strongly
Disagree Agree
1 The company blamed others. 2 4 5 6
2 The company denied doing the
event.
3 After the crisis, the company
took responsibility.
4 The company said it accepted
responsibility for the 3 5
wrongdoing.
5 The company expressed apology
for the incident to the public.
6 The company was very sorry for
what it did.


YOU ARE NEARLY THROUGH!

However, I need some data to help me analyze the results of this survey, so please answer the
questions below. The following questions include some basic biographical data about you. You
cannot be identified from your responses.











1. Gender?
( Male
0 Female

2. How old are you? years old

3. What is your current level of education?
OFreshmen
SSophomore
3Junior
@Senior
@Graduate student
Other

4. What is your major?

5. What is your ethnic background?
(American Indian / Alaska Native
0Black / African-American
(White
Hispanic / Non-White
0Asian
@Native Hawaiian / Oth Pac Island
ONot specified

6. For the extra credit assignment, please put your Gator ID (e.g., 1234-5678)
* This question is for only UF undergraduate students who are asked to participate in this
survey by their class instructor.
( )


Notice!
This message contained in the stimulus materials was manipulated for this study.



Thank you for your participation!










APPENDIX C
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARD INFORMED CONSENT
APPROVAL

Protocol Submission Form


This form must be typed Send this form and the supporting documents to IRB02, PO Box 112250, Gainesville, FL 32611.
Should you have questions about completing this form, call 352-392-0433.

Title of Protocol: The effects of organizational ethics on responsibility, reputation, and
behavioral intention in crisis management.


Principal Investigator: Jin Hong Ha UFID #: 0185-2967

Degree / Title: M.A. / M.A. student Mailing Address: (If Email:
on campus include PO
Box address): Jinhong.ha@ufl.edu

Department: Public Relations PO Box 118400, Telephone #:
Gainesville, FL 32611
352-682-7692


Co-Investigator(s): Email:


Supervisor (IfPI is Mary Ann Ferguson, Ph. UFID#:
student): D.
Degree / Title: Ph.D./Professor Mailing Address: (If Email:
on campus include PO maferguson@jou.ufl.edu
Box address):
Department: Public Relations PO Box 118400, Telephone #:
Gainesville, FL 32611 352-392-6660


Date of Proposed 12/20/2009 8/31/2010
Research:


Source of Funding (A copy of the grant proposal
must be submitted with this protocol iffunding is
involved):


Scientific Purpose of the Study:
This study concentrates on the role of organizational ethics in crisis management. The
purpose of this study is to find how people's perceptions differ in terms of
organization's ethical performances when the organization faces a crisis event.











Describe the Research Methodology in Non-Technical Language: (Explain what will be done with or to the
research participant.)
Web-based experimental research will be used to examine how the level of organizational
ethics is associated with crisis responsibility, organizational reputation, and behavioral
intention. The experimental design includes the manipulation of three factors: 1) crisis type
(rumor vs. transgression), 2) response strategy (denial vs. mortification), and 3) organizational
ethics (high vs. low).
Describe Potential Benefits:
Students participated in the experiment may receive extra credit points (based on instructor's
decision).
Describe Potential Risks: (Ifrisk ofphysical, psychological or economic harm may be involved, describe the
steps taken to protect participant.)
The project should not create any physical, psychological or economic risks. Most of the
scales used in the questionnaire are routinely used by communication scholars in their survey
research. Further, the researchers cannot track down the participants' identity in any way


Describe How Participant(s) Will Be Recruited:
Participants will be volunteers who are involved in academic education.


Maximum 200 Age Range of 18 and Amount of Depending on
Number of Participants: older Compensation/ instructor's
Participants (to course credit: decision
deci sion
be approached
with consent)

Describe the Informed Consent Process. (Attach a Copy of the Informed Consent Document. See
http://irb.ufl.edu/irb02/samples.html for examples of consent.)

(SIGNATURE SECTION)

Principal Investigator(s) Signature: Date:

Co-Investigator(s) Signature(s): Date:


Supervisor's Signature (if PI is a student): Date:


Department Chair Signature: Date:











Statement of Informed Consent


Protocol Title: The effects of organizational ethics on responsibility, reputation, and behavioral
intention in crisis management.

Please read this consent document before you decide to participate in this study.

Purpose of this study:
The purpose of this study is to find how people's perceptions differ in terms of organization's
ethical performances when the organization faces a crisis event.

What you will be asked to do in the study:
You will be asked to answer the questions about the perceptions toward the organization that
faces a crisis event.

Time required: 15 minutes

Risks and Benefits: There are no anticipated risks and no direct benefits to you as a participant
in this study, other than extra course credit

Compensation: extra credit depending on instructor's decision. If you choose not to participate
in this survey, you will be given a time/effort equivalent academic extra credit opportunity.

Confidentiality and Voluntary participation:
Please read each question carefully and respond to the questions as thoughtfully and candidly as
you can. Your participation in this study is completely voluntary. Your identity will be
confidential to the extent provided by law. You must be at least 18 years old to participate in the
study. There is no penalty for not participating. You do not have to answer any questions) you
do not want to answer.

Voluntary participation: Your participation in this study is completely voluntary. There is no
penalty for not participating.

Right to withdraw from the study:
You have the right to withdraw from the study at anytime without consequence.

Whom to contact if you have questions about the study:
Jin Hong Ha, Master student, Weimer Hall, College of Journalism and Mass Communications,
E-mail: jinhong.ha@ufl.edu

Dr. Mary Ann Ferguson, the supervisor at E-mail: maferguson@jou.ufl.edu

Whom to contact about your rights as a research participant in the study:
UFIRB Office, Box 112250, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611-2250, 392-0433.









Agreement:

I have read the procedure described above. I voluntarily agree to participate in the procedure and
I have received a copy of this description.

Participant's Name (Please print):

Participant's Signature: Date

Principal Investigator's Signature Date




Approved by
University of Florida
Institutional Review Board 02
Protocol # 2009-U-1276
For Use Through 12/15/2010









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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH

Jinhong Ha received his Master of Arts in Journalism and Mass Communication at Yonsei

University in South Korea and got his Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Mass Communication

at Hanyang University in South Korea. Before coming to the University of Florida as a master's

student he worked for a public relations/advertising agency, particularly in account management.

He has seven years of full-time professional experience as a campaign planner for various

clients, which developed organizational communication strategies for public relations and

advertising campaigns, crisis management, and corporate ethics. These work experiences

motivated him to continue studying public relations communication with an emphasis on crisis

management, business ethics, PR roles/leaderships, and health communication. During his

graduate studies at the University of Florida, he has won two Top Student Paper Awards from

the 12th Annual International Public Relations Research Conference and from the 80th Annual

Convention of the Southern States Communication Association. After completing his master's

degree in Mass Communication, he plans to begin doctoral studies at the University of North

Carolina at Chapel Hill.





PAGE 1

1 THE EFFECTS OF ORGANIZATIONAL ETHICS ON RESPONSIBILITY, REPUTATION AND BEHAVIORAL INTENTION IN CRISIS MANAGEMENT By JINHONG HA 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 2010

PAGE 2

2 2010 Jinhong Ha

PAGE 3

3 To my famil y professors and colleagues

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4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS This thesis could not have been completed alone. It was through the amalgamation of many efforts that success was achieved. I am very grateful to the numerous individuals who helped me to accomplish this difficult work. I am sincerely grateful to Dr. Mary Ann Ferguson, my thesis Chair, for her cha rity, understanding, enduring support, and love. She was not only my academic advisor and mentor but also a role model, someone who is willing to understand students problem and difficulty and give a hand. Without her help and guidance, I would have lost confidence in my ability to complete this program. I am very thankful to her. It wa s a great honor for me to complete my Master degree under her guidance. Also, I owe special appreciation to Dr. Cynthia Morton for providing invaluable academic advice and e ncouragement Dr. Juan Carlos Molleda offered me insightful comments and thoughtful assistance in conducting an online experiment for this thesis, which I greatly appreciate. My deepest gratitude goes to Dr. Moon Lee for her inspiration and dedication. I w ould also like to express my gratitude to Dr. Linda Childers Hon who introduced me to the public relations theory, which directly led to the basis of the public relations world. I truly thank Dr. Youjin Choi for guiding me through the whole process of the master program. My special thanks go to Dr. David Craig, Dr. Maureen Taylor, and Dr. Namkee Park at the University of Oklahoma. They offered kind support and encouragement to me to successfully begin my future doctoral study. I would like to extend my grat itude to Dr. Coy Callison, Dr. Trent Seltzer, and Dr. Weiwu Zhang at the Texas Tech University, who challenged my potential and also helped me start journey to the future doctoral study. I am very grateful to my close friends in Gainesville. Jun Heo, a Ph.D candidate, had put in a great effort to keep me making straight and wise decisions during my study in Gainesville.

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5 Special thanks to Chunsik Lee, Minkil Kim, Bumsub Jin, Jooyeon Hwang, Sooyeon Kim, Eunhwa Jung, and Hanna Park for their helping me collec t data samples for this study. My heartfelt thanks go out to Peter Gray, Daewook Kim Hyejoon Rim Heejung Kim and Jaekyung Kim for their endless help and trust. No acknowledgment would be complete without thanking to Fr Aemilius Choi at the St. Francis C hoe Catholic Church. He has listened courteously and thoughtfully to my many problems and made me relaxed. I am very grateful for having them. Finally, my biggest thanks go to all of my flesh and blood. My parents believed in me and gave me enduring suppor t whenever I was mentally tired due to my study. They always remind ed me of my original purpose for studying abroad. Without their love, it would have been impossible to accomplish what I dream ed My two older sisters and younger brother, brother and siste r in law, and my cute nephews and niece also provided me with the emotional motivation to complete this study.

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6 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ...............................................................................................................4 LIS T OF TABLES ...........................................................................................................................8 LIST OF FIGURES .........................................................................................................................9 ABSTRACT ...................................................................................................................................10 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTI ON ..................................................................................................................12 2 LITERATURE REVIEW AND THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK ......................................15 Crisis T ype and R esponsibility in Situational Crisis Communication Theory .......................15 Relationship between C risis T ype and C risis R esponsibility ..........................................15 Situational Factors ...........................................................................................................16 Crisis R esponse S trategy in Image Repair Theory (IRT) .......................................................18 Relationship between C risis T ype and C risis R esponse S trategy ...................................18 Situational Factors ...........................................................................................................20 Organizational E thics and C risis ............................................................................................21 Ethics in Crisis Management ...........................................................................................22 Buffering Effect and Halo Effect ....................................................................................24 3 RESEARCH QUESTION AND HYPOTHESES ..................................................................28 Research Question ..................................................................................................................28 Research Hypotheses ..............................................................................................................28 4 METHOD ...............................................................................................................................37 Design .....................................................................................................................................37 Stimulus Materials ..................................................................................................................38 Questionnaire ..........................................................................................................................39 Participants .............................................................................................................................42 Data Collection Procedure ......................................................................................................42 Data Analyses .........................................................................................................................43 5 RESULTS ...............................................................................................................................44 Descriptive Statistics ..............................................................................................................44 Reliability ...............................................................................................................................46 Manipulation Check ................................................................................................................47 Hypothesis Testing .................................................................................................................49

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7 The R elationships among the L evel of E thics of an O rganization and Three Dependent Variables. ...................................................................................................49 The T hree way E ffect of the E thics L evel, C risis T ype, and R esponse S trategy on Three Dependent Variables .........................................................................................50 The Buffer E ffect of the Organizational E thics on Three Dependent Variables ............50 The Halo E ffect of the Organizational E thics on three Dependent Variables ................52 6 DISCUSSION .........................................................................................................................66 Summary of Key Findings ......................................................................................................66 Theoretical Implications .........................................................................................................68 Practical Im plications .............................................................................................................70 Limitations and Future Studies ...............................................................................................72 APPENDIX A STIMULUS MATERIALS ....................................................................................................76 Introduction Stories of a HighEthical and Low Ethical Company .......................................76 A H igh E thical C ompany, Jack & Hill. ...........................................................................76 A Low E thical C ompany, Jack & Hill. ...........................................................................77 Copies of News Stories ...........................................................................................................78 Transgression and Denial ................................................................................................78 Rumor and Denial ............................................................................................................78 Transgression and Mortification ......................................................................................79 Rumor and Mortification .................................................................................................79 B QUESTIONNAIRE ................................................................................................................80 C UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARD INFORMED CONSENT APPROVAL ........................................................................................................85 Protocol Submission Form .....................................................................................................85 Statement of Informed Consent ..............................................................................................87 LIST OF REFERENCES ...............................................................................................................89 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH .........................................................................................................96

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8 LIST OF TABLES Table page 51 Descriptive statistics for demographics of subjects. ..........................................................55 52 The number of subjects for each condition. .......................................................................56 53 Subjects average age per condition. .................................................................................56 54 Factor analysis and reliability analysis for indices. ...........................................................57 55 Manipulation check for e thics l evel. ..................................................................................58 56 Manipulation c heck for crisis type ....................................................................................58 57 Manipulation c heck for r esponse s trategy. ........................................................................59 58 Correlation between the l evel of e thics, c risis r esponsibility, organizational r eputation, and s upportive behavioral i ntention.................................................................59 59 Univariate f values for the dependent variables ...............................................................59 511 Univariate analysis of variance for organizational reputation by ethics and crisis type. ....................................................................................................................................60 512 Univariate analysis of variance for supportive behavioral intention by ethics and crisis type. ..........................................................................................................................60 513 Means and standard deviations for crisis responsibility, organizational reputation, and supportive behavioral intention by ethics level and crisis type. ..................................61 514 Univariate analysis of variance for crisis responsibility by ethics and response strategy. ..............................................................................................................................62 515 Univar iate analysis of variance for organizational reputation by ethics and response strategy. ..............................................................................................................................62 516 Univariate analysis of variance for supportive behavioral intention by ethics and response str ategy. ...............................................................................................................62 517 Means and standard deviations for crisis responsibility, organizational reputation, and supportive behavioral intention by ethics level and response strategy. ......................63

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9 LIST OF FIGURES Figure page 31 Expectation of hypothesis one. ..........................................................................................33 32 Expectation of hypothesis two. ..........................................................................................34 33 Expectation of hypotheses three. .......................................................................................34 34 Expectation of hypotheses four. .........................................................................................35 35 Expectation of hypotheses five. .........................................................................................35 36 Expectation of hypotheses six. ...........................................................................................36 37 Expectation of hypotheses seven. ......................................................................................36 51 Ethics by crisis type by response strategy threeway interaction s. ....................................64 52 Ethics by crisis type. ..........................................................................................................65 53 Ethics by response strategy ...............................................................................................65

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10 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 THE EFFECTS OF ORGANIZATIONAL ETHICS ON RESPONSIBILITY, REPUTATION AND BEHAVIORAL INTENTION IN CRISIS MANAGEMENT By Jinhong Ha August 2010 Chair: Mary Ann Ferguson Major: Mass Communi cation This study provides a test of organizational ethics in crisis management. The study concentrated on how organizational ethics, crisis type, and response strategy were associated with the attribution of crisis responsibility, organizational reputati on, and supportive behavioral intention. The analyses also examined how the crisis responsibility, reputation, and behavioral intention varied according to the organizational ethics. This study conducted an experiment using online instruments. The study us ed a between g r oups 2 x 2 x 2 factorial design in which ethics level (high vs. low), crisis type (rumor vs. transgression), and response strategy (mortification vs. denial) were manipulated to produce eight different conditions. For the cases tested, the results supported the value and importance of organizational ethics in a crisis situation. First, t he Pearson correlation coefficients revealed that the level of ethics of an organization was positively associated with the organizational reputation and supportive behavioral intention. And, there was a negative relationship between the level of ethics of an organization and crisis responsibility. Also, the results revealed that crisis responsibility was significantly negatively related to other variables, or ganizational reputation and supportive behavioral intention. This means that stakeholders perception of organizational ethics level can play positive roles in crisis management and it is also important that the plan to lessen the degree

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11 to which publics a ttribute crisis responsibility to the organization should be made at the first phase of crisis. Third, the results of twoway ANOVA revealed that there was an interaction effect for ethics level by crisis type on organizational reputation. However, no inte raction effect for ethics level by response strategy showed on any other dependent variables. The results indicated a significant main effect of the ethics level on crisis responsibility and supportive behavioral intention, while there was a main effect of crisis type only on crisis responsibility. Likewise, the results indicated a significant main effect of the response strategy on crisis responsibility and organizational reputation. The results confirm that the level of organizational ethics would be a ve ry important moderate factor in crisis communication. Finally, the results revealed that rumor type crisis yielded more favorable crisis responsibility, organizational reputation and supportive behavioral intention than transgression type crisis. Interesti ngly, unlike hypothetical expectation, subjects indicated that the company using mortification response strategy should be more responsible for the crisis than one using denial response strategy. This means that it is possible that mortification might not guarantee the halo and halo effects in crisis management and the previous suggestions insisting mortification is the best response strategy in crisis might be false. The theoretical and practical implications of this study and suggestions for future resear ch are discussed.

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12 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION We know well the lesson from The Shepherds Boy and The Wolf one of the Aesops Fables A shepherd boy, who was judged as a sincere boy, rushed down towards the village calling out Wolf, Wolf, and the villagers came out to help him. However, it was his trick. A few days after, he tried the same thing for pleasure, and the neighbors came to help him again. Shortly after this event, a wolf truly came at last. The shepherd boy cried out Wolf, Wolf! still louder than before. However, nobody lifted a finger to help him. This lesson tells us how important a persons trust is at an unusual time. Can this moral be applied to business management? This simple question is the starting point of my thesis. This study concent rates on finding out how peoples perceptions and attitudes differ in terms of the assets of an organizations ethical performance and image when t he organization faces a crisis. It is now over 10 years since crisis communication theories were developed for effective crisis management. Among crisis communication theories, Situational Crisis Communication Theory (SCCT) (Coombs & Holladay, 2002) and Image Repair Theory (IRT) (Benoit, 1995) are representative. These theories have developed effective strategies for crisis management based on the communication, social, and public relations theories, such as Attribution Theory (Weiner, 1985), Cognitive Dissonance Theory (Festinger, 1957), Contingency Theory (Cameron, 1997), Complexity Theory (Murphy, 1996, 2000), Game Theory (Murphy, 1989), and so forth. SCCT and IRT suggest that the appropriate crisis response strategies should match the crisis type. According to these theories, the matched response strategies can affect the attribution of crisis responsibility, organizational reputation, and stakeholders potential outcome. Recently, much attention has been given to other situational factors influencing the results of crisis

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13 management. For example, identification of crisis type and the level of crisis responsibil ity can vary in terms of stakeholders emotion toward an organization, crisis history, and relationship between an organization and stakeholders. In fact, consumers are likely to experience a diverse relationship with an organization that is significantly associated with a crisis responsibility, reputation of an organization, and behavioral intention (Cameron, Pang, & Jin, 2008; Coombs, 2007; Kim, Kim, & Ca meron, 2009; Kim & Yang, 2009). As society becomes more complex, the definition and identity of crisis have changed. First of all, crisis types have been more diverse and the range of damage from the crisis has also been enlarged. This means that the kinds of stakeholders whom organizations should communicate with have become increasingly diverse. Next, cr ises have become more unpredictable, which indicates the importanc e of pre crisis management. Due to the change of crisis environments, it is true that crisis management activities are not necessary only after a crisis is realized. Some studies on crisis communication have found situational factors, such as history of crisis or relationship, which can influence the effectiveness of crisis management ( Cameron, Pang, & Jin, 2008; Coombs & Holladay, 1996, 2001). In the pre crisis situation situational factors affects a publics perception and attitude toward an organization, which tells us that the perceptions and attitudes in a pre crisis situation may play an important role in actual crisis management. It is necessary for crisis managers to make an effort not only for actual crisis management activities, such as environmental monitoring, but also for potential crisis management activities, such as organizational image building, reputation management, and relatio nship improvement with publics. Thus, the purpose of this study is to explore the effects of ethical performance of an organization on the process of crisis management by examining whether the organizational ethics

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14 plays a role as a buffer and halo attenuating the damage from a crisis. This study would c ontribute to the body of knowledge in crisis management as well as public relations communication by revealing the fact that the organizational ethics could be one of the situational factors affecting the effectiveness of organizational crisis management activities.

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15 CHAPTER 2 LITERATURE REVIEW AN D THEORETICAL FRAMEWOR K Crisis T ype and R esponsibility in Situational Crisis Communication Theory Relationship between C risis T ype and C risis R esponsibility One of theoretical frames of SCCT is Attribution theory e xplaining how people search for causes of issues or events (Weiner, 1985). By using Attribution theory, SCCT posits that people need to assign responsibility for a crisis to a specific organization. The notion of crisis responsibility is the degree to whi ch the organization is perceived to be responsible for the crisis events (Coombs, 2008, p.265). The level of crisis responsibility can vary according to attribution of control, performance history (crisis history and relationship history), and damage seri ousness (Coombs & Holladay, 1995). SCCT also identifies crisis types in terms of the level of crisis responsibility perceived by stakeholders. The crisis types created by SCCT have a list of thirteen crisis situations which exist on a continuum from high crisis responsibility to low crisis responsibility. Coombs and Holladay (2008) divided these crisis types into three clusters referring to a preventable cluster, an accidental cluster, and a victim cluster (see Table 21). This categorization helps underst and the relationship between crisis type and crisis responsibility because crisis types can be created based on crisis responsibility, and in turn, crisis responsibility can be predicted according to the crisis type. Thus, it can be said that the relations hip between crisis type and crisis responsibility is considerably reciprocal In other words, the crisis type not only can be identified by assessment of crisis responsibility but also can help assess the crisis responsibility to be attributed to an organi zation. Attribution of crisis responsibility to an organization can be perceived as strongest when the organization has had many crisis histories, the crisis might be controlled by people inside the

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16 organization, the crisis results in severe damage, and the organizations intentionality of the wrong doing is high (Coombs, 1998; Coombs & Holladay, 1996, 2001, 2002). For example, the crisis types in a preventable cluster including human error accidents, human error recalls, and organizational misdeeds are reg arded as high attribution of crisis responsibility to the organization. On the other hand, the crisis types in a victim cluster including natural disaster, rumors, workplace violence, and product tampering are classified as low attributions of crisis respo nsibility to the organization. Regarding the relationship between crisis type and crisis responsibility, Coombs and Holladay (1996) tested it by using two types of crisis transgression and accident. The results revealed that transgression was perceived as having greater crisis responsibility than accident. Through more studies on the relationship between crisis type and responsibility, Coombs and his colleagues found that there was significantly different crisis responsibility that stakeholders perceived depending on different crisis types human error accident, organizational misdeed, technical error accident, technical error recalls, workplace violence, and product tampering (Coombs, 1998, 1999; Coombs & Holladay, 2001, 2002; Coombs & Schmidt, 2000). T he results reveal that there is a strong relationship between crisis type and attribution of crisis responsibility to an organization. Moreover, Cho and Gower (2006) found that the more intentional crisis type (i.e., transgression) led to more attribution of organizational crisis responsibility than the unintentional crisis type (i.e., rumor). Situational Factors Previous studies on crisis responsibility examined other factors influencing attribution of responsibility for crisis (Coombs, 1998; Coombs & Holl aday, 1996, 2001; Park & LenRios, 2008).

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17 Coombs and Holladay (1996) suggest situational threat intensifier factors which can affect perceptions of crisis responsibility. There are three factors severity, crisis history, and relationship history. First, severity refers to the amount of damage inflicted by a crisis including human lives lost and injuries, financial loss, and environmental destruction. Second, crisis history indicates how many times an organization has had similar crises in the past. The t hird factor, relationship history, is concerned with whether an organization has had good relationship with publics based on desirable performances and how it has treated its stakeholders in the past. Coombs and Holladay (1996) hypothesized that the more severe the damage or the worse the crisis history and relationship history, the greater crisis responsibility stakeholders would attribute to the organization. T hese hypotheses were supported partially. In fact, the severity of damage did not affect crisis responsibility in the crisis types of technical error accident and organizational misdeed (Coombs, 1998). This means the effect of threat intensifier factors on attribution of crisis responsibility can differ in specific crisis types and situations. Crisis history was found to have an effect on crisis responsibility for some crisis types, such as organizational misdeed, human error crisis, technical error crisis, and workplace violence, but no effect for other crisis types including product tampering and t echnical error recall (Coombs, 1998, 2002; Coombs & Holladay, 2001). The relationship history is particularly interesting regarding the results that an unfavorable relationship history was found to have a negative effect on crisis responsibility, while a f avorable relationship history had no negative effect (Coombs & Holladay, 2001). Cooms and Holladay (2001) interpreted this results that people who have bad relationship with an organization tend to attribute stronger crisis responsibility to the organization than an organization with which they have a good relationship. Recently, Coombs (2007) posits that relationship history has a direct

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18 and indirect effect on reputational damage posed by a crisis. For example, a negative relationship with stakeholders can affect indirect attribution of crisis responsibility to an organization by deteriorating the definition of the crisis type from victim crisis to accident crisis or from accident crisis to preventable crisis (Coombs & Holladay, 2001). Also, they found that the negative relationship with stakeholders can directly intensify the reputational damage (Coombs & Holladay, 2004). Kim and Yang (2009) found that the organizations keeping a bad relationship with stakeholders are likely to be perceived as having the hi gh attribution of crisis responsibility. Throughout the previous results, we might expect that, unlike the effect of negative relationship with stakeholders, the positive pre crisis relationship may produce the positive impact, playing an important role in protecting and supporting an organization in crisis situation. Crisis R esponse S trategy in Image Repair Theory (IRT) Relationship between C risis T ype and C risis R esponse S trategy A crisis might be one of the most serious events that threaten to damage the image and reputation of an organization. In a crisis, generally, using a compassion message can positively affect a publics perception more on the organizational reputation than using a simple instructing information message (Coombs, 1999). In fact, peo ple tend to consider the organization that issued an apologetic response as more favorable, more prosocial, more ethical, and more likable than the organization that gave a defensive response (Lyon & Cameron, 2004). Benoit and Pang (2008) identified five c ategories of crisis response strategies for organizational image restoration; they consist of denial, evasion of responsibility, reducing offensiveness of the event, corrective action, and mortification (see Table 22). IRT suggests that the appropriate cr isis response strategies (from denial to mortification) should be matched to crisis types identified by the level of crisis responsibility in order to manage effectively the image and reputation of an organization in a crisis situation (Benoit, 1995). Mort ification

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19 response strategy admits wrong doing and asks for forgiveness indicating both acceptance of responsibility for the event and expression of direct apology, while denial response strategy uses either simple denial saying that the crisis is not rele vant to the organization, or blame shift declaring that another organization is really responsible for the crisis event (Benoit & Pang, 2008) Like SCCT, IRT has an emphasis on the responsibility of the organization for the crisis. Matching crisis response strategies to the specific crisis types should be on the mortification and denial continuum. This means an appropriate crisis response strategy should be selected based on evaluating the organizational crisis responsibility for crisis situations on the mo rtification denial continuum. For example, mortification strategies are needed for the crisis types in the preventable cluster where the organization is recognized as highly responsible for a crisis, whereas denial strategies are appropriate for the crisis types in the victim cluster perceived as low crisis responsibility. A well matched crisis response to crisis type affects not only crisis responsibility but also organizational reputation, and stakeholders behavioral intention during the crisis event (Be noit, 2000). A matched crisis response strategy can better protect an organizations reputation than other responses, such as no response, just providing information, or any randomly selected message (Allen & Caillouet, 1994). For example, the matched condition of transgression and mortification is related to more positive organizational reputation than the mismatched condition of transgression and evasion of responsibility (Coombs & Holladay, 1996). A similar pattern of result is found in the combination of accident crisis type with either mortification response or evasion of responsibility (Coombs & Holladay, 1996).

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20 Racism crisis type experimental research reveals that there are no significant differences among the effects of five different response strat egies (shifting blame, bolstering, separation, corrective action, and mortification) on organizational image and reputation and stakeholders behavioral intention (Coombs & Schmidt, 2000). However, if the variable of relationship with stakeholders is included in experimental conditions, the result changes. When corrective action response strategy is used, the organization having a good relationship with stakeholders is perceived as having significantly less crisis responsibility and a more positive organiza tional reputation than the organization having a bad relationship (Kim & Yang, 2009). Moreover, story balance in media coverage is affected by the types of response strategies used during a crisis. In a sexual assault crisis, the response strategy of defea sibility that declares lack of information or ability causes news stories to be negative, while stories are positive when a bolstering strategy that reminds stakeholders of the organizations positive performances or aspects is used (Holtzhausen & Roberts, 2009). Situational Factors Contingency theory supplements IRT with the factor stance strategy model for organizational image restoration in crisis by explaining the process in which an organization uses response strategies based on its stance and crisis f actors (Cameron, Pang, & Jin, 2008). In the factor stancestrategy model, first, the factors refer to the contingent factors, conditions within and without the organization, which facilitate the organizations stance. Like the situational threat intensifier factors affecting attribution of crisis responsibility in SCCT, the contingent factors influence the stance the organization takes in crisis. The contingent factors include five key factors involvement of the dominant coalition, influence and autonomy of public relations, influence and role of legal practitioners, importance of publics to the organization, and the organizations perception of threat (Pang, 2006; Reber & Cameron, 2003).

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21 Second, stance referring to the position an organization takes in decision making moves along the continuum having two poles, advocacy and accommodation. The stance influences an organizations action as crisis response strategy, the third dimension of the factor stancestrategy model. Thus, the fact stancestrategy mode l assumes that the stance can be positioned in terms of the factors; in turn, the strategy that an organization uses during a crisis can be selected based on the stance continuum (Pang, 2006). Therefore, Benoits image repair continuum in IRT has been merg ed with the stance continuum in the factor stancestrategy model of Contingency theory (Holtzhausen & Roberts, 2009). In other words, crisis response strategies suggested by IRT can be regarded as existing on a continuum in that denial strategy shares similar characteristics with advocacy, and mortification strategy shares similar characteristics with accommodation (Benoit, 2004). For example, when the cause of a crisis is external to the organization and less accommodation is required, the organization would be more likely to use denial response strategy to advocate the organizations interests. However, the organization would be more likely to use the mortification response strategy to accommodate stakeholders interests when it has strong crisis responsibility (Holtzhausen & Roberts, 2009). Organizational E thics and C risis Ethics has to do with moral standards defined as the principles of right and wrong and is related to what is good or bad ( Anand & Rosen 2008). L ikewise, business ethics is considered as a organization s obligation to be honest with its stakeholders, to protect employee rights, to preserve the environment, and so on (Berenbeim, 1987; Drucker, 1981 ). B usiness ethics had begun gaining attention and been emphasized since 1970s when people wi tnessed miserable economic disasters (Cory, 2005).

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22 Business ethics is a form of applied ethics so that it is regarded as playing an important role in creating not only visible assets, such as economic profits through causing consumers to purchase products and services, but also invisible assets, such as favorable image, reputation, and relationship with consumers (Nielsen, 2004, Schweiger, Sandberg, & Rechner, 1989). Business ethics has been evaluated by various constructs with the perspectives of economic, legal, or ethical dimensions (Epstein, 1998; Husted, 1998). Particularly, an ethical business is well related to corporate financial performance, which has been given a critical research interest by many scholars as an important issue since the 1960s (McG uire et al., 1988). In fact, a meta analysis revealed that the relationship between organizational ethics and a firms financial performance appeared positively (Orlizky et al., 2003). Ethics in Crisis Management The goal of crisis management is to reduce organizational reputation damage and to encourage stakeholders to accommodate the response messages and give their supportive behaviors (Benoit, 1995; Brinson & Benoit, 1999). It needs to investigate how business ethics can contribute to crisis management. Unfortunately, few studies on the direct relationship between organizational ethics and crisis management or the role of its ethics in crisis communication are found. Recently, however, research on corporate social responsibility (CSR) has been given th e attention the premise of an ethical organization (Logsdon & Wood, 2002; Mahon & Wartick, 2003; Siltaoja, 2006). G enerally, CSR means operating the business of an organization in a manner that is based on ethical standards, social norms, legal policies, a nd so forth (Driver, 2006). Many scholars insist that ethical corporate behaviors, including CSR activities, can influence an organizations reputation and image (Fombrun, 1998; Lewis, 2001; Schultz et al., 2001). Although there are few studies about the e ffectiveness of CSR activities on crisis

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23 management, sound organizational reputation created by CSR activities is expected to protect an organization against potential crisis events (Baker, 2001). There are some reports about CSRs effect on the attributi on of crisis responsibility. An experimental finding on the effect of ethical response messages suggests that people are likely to attribute less crisis responsibility to an organization using a CSR emphasized message than one using other messages, such as ability oriented messages, in a transgression crisis event (Kim, Kim, & Cameron, 2009). T his result however, varies in terms of the crisis type. For example, the crisis responsibility is likely to be attributed less to the organization using a corporate ability message when an accident crisis type occurs (Kim, Kim, & Cameron, 2009). Moreover, although stakeholders perception of organizational reputation and behavioral intention can vary in terms of its CSR levels in a crisis situation, the perception of crisis responsibility does not show a difference in terms of the CSR levels (Kim & Yang, 2009). Organizational reputation has also been given interests to practitioners as well as scholars in the context of an organization s ethical behavior (Mahon & Warti ck, 2003). M any scholars insist that an ethical organization s behaviors such as CSR can influence its reputation, in turn, the perception of reputation determined by CSR activity can be the premise of attraction to the organization (Logsdon & Wood, 2002; Mahon & Wartick, 2003). T hus, the perceived level of ethics of an organization can play an important role to construct favorable reputation with primary stakeholders. As we know, it is difficult to simply identify the effect and role of organizational ethics and its CSR activities in a crisis situation because the notion of business ethics and CSR are composed of diverse constructs and dimensions that result in stakeholders having different ethics and CSR perspectives. However, there is little question that organizational ethics and CSR

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24 activity has a strong correlation with stakeholders perception toward the organization. Thus, it can be said that, like the earlier mentioned situational factors influencing attribution of crisis responsibility, organizational reputation, and behavioral intention, organizational ethics and CSR would moderate stakeholders perception and attitude toward the organization in a crisis situation. Buffering Effect and Halo Effect It has been acknowledged that it is easier for an or ganization having a positive relationship with stakeholders to maintain its positive image and reputation. People are likely to search for information that is consistent with their first judgment after an attribution is made (Bodenhausen & Wyer. 1985; Darl ey & Gross, 1983; Eisenberg, 1984). Pratkanis et al. (1988) explained the evidence of a sleeper effect, a potentially delayed increasing impact of a persuasive message. It means that an existing reputation can have the power of maintaining the publics per ception, in turn, any response strategy in a crisis situation might work because a positive reputation is deeply established (Lyon & Cameron, 2004). Likewise, a good reputation combined with an apologetic response strategy may result in less damage from a crisis (Coombs, 2000). When a crisis occurs, the credits accumulated in precrisis may buffer the negative impacts (Birch, 1994; Coombs, 1998). The buffering effect proposed by Barnett & Hyde (2001) refers to the ability of positive experience to allevia te or moderate the stress caused by a negative experience. When applying the effect to crisis management, a positive experience or judgment on an organization recognized as an ethical may act as a buffer against the attribution of organizational responsibi lity and reputation damage (Coombs & Holladay, 2001). In other words, a good relationship with stakeholders based on an ethical image may buffer the reputation damage and attribution of crisis responsibility.

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25 Moreover, a favorable relationship also has a halo effect as a bank account of goodwill in a crisis situation (Coombs & Holladay, 2001; Payne, 2006). According to the halo effect, when an organization is perceived to have one desirable characteristic, then the organization is likely to be assumed to have many other desirable characteristics as well. Thus, in crisis, a highly ethical organization tends to be given credit for its trustworthiness so that stakeholders should be willing to accept more easily the crisis response messages communicated by the organization. Research on the buffering effect and halo effect explain the impact of a favorable relationship between an organization and stakeholders (Balzer & Sulsky, 1992; Nisbett & Wilson, 1977). In a crisis, once a positive perception of an organizat ion is established, people tend to ignore information against the favorable reputation and are likely to seek after messages supporting their beliefs toward the organization (Coombs, 1999).

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26 Table 2 1. Crisis t ypes (Coombs & Holladay, 2002) Crisis Type Pre ventable Cluster (High Crisis Responsibility) Human error accidents Human error recalls Organizational misdeed with no injuries Organizational misdeed management misconduct Organizational misdeed with injuries Accidental Cluster (Moderate C risis Responsibility) Challenges Megadamage Technical error accidents Technical error recalls Victim Cluster (Low Crisis responsibility) Natural disaster Rumors Workplace violence Product tampering/malevolence Definition H uman error causes an industrial accident Human error caused a product to be recalled Stakeholders are deceived without injury Laws or regulations are violated by management Stakeholders are placed at risk by management and injuries Stakeholders claim an organization acts in inappropriate manner A technical accident where the focus is on the environmental damage from the accident A technology or equipment failure causes an industrial accident A technology or equipment failure causes a product to be recall ed Acts of nature that damage an organization, such as an earthquake False and damaging information about an organization is being circulated Current or former employee attacks current employees onsite External agent causes damage to an organization

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27 T able 2 2. Crisis response strategies (Benoit & Pang, 2008) Crisis Response Strategy Definition Denial Simple denial Shift the blame Evasion of responsibility Provocation Defeasibility Accident Good intentions Reducing of fensiveness of event Bolstering Minimization Differentiation Transcendence Attack accuser Compensation Corrective action Mortification Did not perform act Act performed by another Responded to act of another Lack of information or ability Act was a mishap Meant well in act Stress good traits Act not serious Act less offensive than similar ones More important considerations Reduce credibility of accuse Reimburse victim Plan to solve or prevent problem Apologize for act

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28 CHAPTER 3 RESEARCH QUESTION AND HYPOTHESES Research Question Previous studies on crisis management reveal that there are strong correlations among crisis responsibility, organizational reputation, and potential supportive behavioral intention (Be noit & Pang, 2008; Cameron et. al., 2008; Coombs, 2008). Most crisis communication theories emphasize the relationship between an organization and stakeholders as an important situational factor which can affect the result of crisis management. The researcher assumed that one of the critical variables that stakeholders may use when they evaluate the relationship with an organization is the level of ethics of the or ganization. Therefore, it can be expected that the organizational ethics must be relevant to o ther factors in crisis management. To assess the relationship between the level of organizational ethics and other factors in crisis management, the following research question was developed. RQ. What correlations are there between organizational ethics, attribution of crisis responsibility, reputation of an organization, and stakeholders supportive behavioral intention? Research Hypotheses Identifying crisis type and matching appropriate crisis response strategy to the crisis type are very important in cr isis management because a matched response message is more effective than the unmatched one. As mentioned earlier, there is also a strong reciprocal relationship between crisis type, response strategy, and crisis responsibility perceived by publics in that crisis response strategies can be matched by crisis types and the crisis types can be identified by crisis responsibility. In addition, according to SCCT and IRT, crisis responsibility is negatively correlated to organizational reputation; in turn, the or ganizational reputation is positively related to s upportive behavioral intention.

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29 The effect of crisis type and crisis response strategy on stakeholders attitude (attribution of crisis responsibility to an organization, organizational reputation, and supportive behavioral intention) has been studied based on a linear approach, such as crisis type and response strategy organization responded apologetically, people were likely to possess an attitude of a good reputation toward the company, and then were significantly mor e inclined to invest in the company (Lyon & Cameron, 2004). However, considering that crisis is the outcome of complicated environments and situations, a simple linear approach is not adequate to manage the crisis effectively. Thus, we need to examine both the direct effects of crisis type and response strategy on stakeholders attitudes and the indirect effects of them. In fact, assuming the effect of organizational ethics on reducing crisis responsibility and damage to organizational reputation and making stakeholders be willing to accommodate the response messages communicated by an organization, a three way interaction between crisis type, crisis response strategy, and organizational ethics is entirely plausible. Specifically, the researcher would expect a mortification response strategy used by a highethical organization for a rumor crisis to have greater impact on the dependent variables than any other condition. Thus, the interplay of the level of organizational ethics and other factors is addressed in Hypothesis 1. H1. Subjects will show more positive attitudes (less attribution of crisis responsibility, better reputation of an organization, and higher supportive behavioral intention) when rumor and mortification condition are combined for a higheth ical organization than any other condition. Figure 3 1 visualizes the expectation of this three way interaction hypothesis 1.

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30 Regarding the effect of organizational ethics, it can contribute to creating positive relationships with publics; in turn, it may cause stakeholders to keep their good perceptions and attitudes during a crisis situation. This assumption can be explained by the buffering effect and halo effect. In other words, organizational ethics variable also may act essentially as a moderator infl uencing the impact of crisis type and response strategy. Previous studies confirmed that rumor type crisis is likely to yield more favorable stakeholders attitudes (less attribution of crisis responsibility, better reputation of an organization, and highe r supportive behavioral intention) than transgression type crisis. In this study the researcher assumed that a highly ethical organization might act as a buffer against the attribution of crisis responsibility, reputation damage, and the decline of support ive behavioral inte ntion. The results of the previous research also revealed that mortification response strategy tends to have more positive stakeholders attitudes (less attribution of crisis responsibility, better reputation of an organization, and higher supportive behavioral intention) than denial response strategy. In this study, the researcher predicted that a highly ethical organization, under the conditions of rumor and mortification, will have a halo effect that causes stakeholders to give the hig hly ethical organization less attribution of crisis responsibility, better organizational reputation, and higher s upportive behavioral intention. This study also posits the following two way interaction hypotheses to assess the two way interactions of high versus low organizational ethics, transgression crisis versus rumor crisis, and denial versus mortification response strategy on crisis responsibility, reputation, and behavioral intention.

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31 H2. Ethics and crisis types will have a two way interaction effect on attribution of crisis responsibility, such that: H2 a. Subjects in a highethical organization and rumor type crisis will report less attribution of crisis responsibility to an organization than will those in a low ethical organization and transgressio n type crisis Figure 3 2 visualizes the expectation of the H 2. H3. Ethics and response strategies will have a two way interaction effect on attribution of crisis responsibility, such that: H3a. Subjects in a highethical organization and mortification res ponse will report less attribution of crisis responsibility to an organization than will those in a low ethical organization and denial response crisis. Figure 3 3 visualizes the expectation of the H 3. H4. Ethics and crisis types will have a two way intera ction effect on reputation of an organization, such that: H4a. Subjects in a highethical organization and rumor type crisis will report better reputation of an organization than will those in a low ethical organization and transgression type crisis. Figur e 3 4 visualizes the expectation of the H 4. H5. Ethics and response strategies will have a two way interaction effect on reputation of an organization, such that: H5a. Subjects in a highethical organization and mortification response will report better re putation of an organization than will those in a low ethical organization and denial response. Figure 3 5 visualizes the expectation of the H 5.

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32 H6. Ethics and crisis types will have a two way interaction effect on supportive behavioral intention, such that : H6a. Subjects in a highethical organization and rumor type crisis will report higher supportive behavioral intention than will those in a low ethical organization and transgression type crisis. Figure 3 6 visualizes the expectation of the H 6. H7. Ethics and response strategies will have a two way interaction effect on supportive behavioral intention, such that: H7a. Subjects in a highethical organization and mortification response will report higher supportive behavioral intention than will those in a l ow ethical organization and denial response will report the lowest supportive behavioral intention. Figure 3 7 visualizes the expectation of the H 7.

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33 Figure 3 1. Expectation of h ypothesis one.

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34 Figure 3 2. Expectation of h ypothesis t wo. F igure 3 3. Expectation of h ypotheses t hree.

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35 Figure 3 4. Expectation of h ypotheses f our. Figure 3 5. Expectation of h ypotheses fi ve.

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36 Figure 3 6. Expectation of h ypotheses s ix. Figure 3 7. Expectation of h ypotheses s even.

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37 CHAPTER 4 METHOD This study concentrates on the role of organizational ethics in crisis management. An experimental design is used to examine how the level of organizational ethics is associated with crisis responsibility, organizational reputation, and behavioral intention. Additional analyses explore how the effectiveness of crisis types and response strategies varied according to the level of organizational ethics. Design A 2 x 2 x 2 betweengoup s design is employed, meaning that each subject received only one of the ei ght conditions. The experimental design includes the manipulation of three factors: 1) crisis type (rumor vs. transgression), 2) response strategy (denial vs. mortification), and 3) organizational ethics (high vs. low). Dependent variables include attribut ion of crisis responsibility, reputation of an organization, and stakeholders supportive behavioral intention. First, two types of crisis are used. One is transgression which is thought to lead to a high responsible crisis event attribution, and the other is rumor which is thought to lead to a low responsible crisis event attribution. In other words, according to SCCT, transgression is one of the crisis types of the preventable cluster that produces high attributions of crisis responsibility. Meanwhile, ru mor is one of victim cluster crises that produce low attributions of crisis responsibility. Rumor evokes stakeholders sympathy for an organization because of their perception that the organization might be a victim of the crisis along with them (Coombs, 2 002). Second, in the scenarios, each crisis type is matched to a crisis response strategies enlisted in IRT. According to IRT, the mortification strategy is appropriate for a high responsibility crisis type, which indicates that an organization is willing to accept responsibility for the crisis event and offer a direct apology. The denial strategy is appropriate for a low responsibility crisis type,

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38 which denies the crisis event itself or declares that other people or organizations are really responsible for the wrongful act. However, in this study, each crisis response strategy is matched to all crisis types because the purpose of this study is not to compare the effects of matched versus unmatched messages; our purpose i s to examine the moderating effect o f organizational ethics among the crisis types, response strategies, and dependent variables, the stakeholders attitudes. The scenarios are based on real and lesser known events, but the information was manipulated to fit the needs of this study. Next, each crisis is presented as if the crisis occurred in a high ethical organization or a low ethical one. Thus, each of the four cases has two ethical level options, resulting in a t otal of eight crisis scenarios. T hese eight scenarios were randomly assigned t o subjects in each group. The s ubject s w ere also assigned to groups randomly by giving them one of eight website addresses that were created for each condition. Stimulus Materials Mock newspaper reports of eight different crisis scenarios are created with different combinations of ethical levels, crisis types, and crisis response strategies. The eight news stories were written by a journalist who has over 20 years news writing experience. Stories were written in newswire style, headlines were also included to easily identify crisis types and response strategies. Ethi cs level Two stories introducing two companies were written. The introduction story for a high ethical company emphasizes good relationship with stakeholders, efforts for ethical management, an d ethical award performances. On the other hand, the introduction story for a low ethical company includes business scandals, such as raising a slush fund and political lobbying (see Appendix A).

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39 Crisis type A news story about tax evasion, insider trading and bribery was chosen as a sample of a transgression crisis event. Business rumor scenario about financial problems and layoffs was selected as a sample of a rumor crisis event (see Appendix A). Crisis response strateg y Two crisis response variables w ere chosen based on strategy continuum suggested by Benoit (1995). Mortification response involved forgiveness and a direct apology. Denial response included defensive actions such as shifting the blame and attacking the accuser. For example, mortification response stimuli included we sincerely apologize for all troubles or we think it is due to our companys carelessness, while denial response included there is no reasonand it is groundless or we are going to take all possible legal actions again st people who spread the f alse reports (see Appendix A). Questionnaire Crisis responsibility were obtained by using a six items scale adapted from Griffin, Babin, and Dardens (1992), McAuley, Duncan, and Russells (1992), Cho and Gowers (2006), and Lee s (2005) measure of responsibility and blame. The items include: I think the company should be blamed, I think the company should bear the responsibility for the event, I think the blame for the crisis lies with the company, I think the cause of the event is beyond the companys control, I think circumstances are responsible for the crisis, not the company, and I think the blame for the crisis lies in the circumstances. Each item was measured by a 7 point likelihood scale ranging 1 (very strongl y disagree) to 7 (very strongly agree). Among these six items, two items I think circumstances are responsible for the crisis, not the company and I think the blame for the crisis lies in the circumstances were reverse coded. Organizational reputatio n was assessed using the six scales developed by McCroskey (1966), Fombrun (1996) and Winkleman (1999). The reputation quotient was used to measure organizational reputation on a 7point scale ranging from 1 (very strongly disagree) to 7 (very

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40 strongly agr ee). The items include: I admire and respect the company, I have a good feeling about the company, I trust this company to tell the truth about the incident, The company maintains high standards in the way it treats people, The company is basicall y honest, and The company looks li ke a good company to work for. Supportive behavioral intention was evaluated by the six items tested in previous crisis research on potential supportive behavior (Coombs, 1999; Lyon & Cameron, 2004; Zeithaml et al., 1996). The scale includes: I would purchase the companys products/services, I would recommend the companys products/services to a friend, I would invest in the company, I would complain to other customers if I experience a problem with the companys service, I would say negative things about the company to people, and I would switch to a competitor if I experience a problem with the companys service. Each item was measured by a 7 point likelihood scale ranging 1 (very strongly disagree) to 7 (ve ry strongly agree). Among these six items, the researcher reverse coded subjects responses to the two items I would say negative things about the company to people, and I would switch to a competitor if I experience a problem with the companys servi ce. To assure a response consistency check, the questionnaires contained four reverse coded items. If respondents were too discrepant in their response to the reversed items, the subjects are discarded. For example, the question, I think the blame for th e crisis lies in the circumstances is a reversed item for the question of I think the blame for the crisis lies with the company Generally, the reversed item score is supposed to be given oppositely to the other item. Thus, when a subject gives these t wo questions the same scores, the subject was considered as to be inconsistent. In this study, if subjects responded like that to all four reversed items, the subjects data were discarded.

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41 In addition, for a manipulation check, the level of ethics of an o rganization was measured with a six item scale on a 7 point Likert type scale ranging from 1 (very strongly disagree) to 7 (very strongly agree) adopted from Bendixen and Abratts Scale (2007) measuring ethical standards and relationship as well as the Han sens Scale (1992) developing the results of Reidenbach and Robins (1988, 1990) works. T he organizational ethics used in this study was defined as the public s perception on the ethics of an organization based on its ethical performance in business. The question items include: I can trust the company, The company is concerned with what is legal, The company is concerned with what is morally right, The company is highly regarded as far as business ethics is concerned, The company treats its public with respect, and The company is socially responsible. The manipulation check for crisis types the two types of crises were compared on six items. The items include: The type rumor was measured by two items including The news story is a rumor and Th e news story is false information. The transgression type crisis was measured by four items The news story is true, The company is the main cause of this event, The company deceived the public, and The company violated the law. Last, for the man ipulation check of crisis response strategies, six items that Cameron et al. (2008) and Coombs and Schmidt (2000) developed were used. The items include: Two questions of The company blamed others and The company denied doing the event were used in measuring the manipulation check for the denial strategy, and four questions of After the crisis, the company took responsibility, The company said it accepted responsibility for the wrongdoing, The company expressed apology for the incident to the publi c, and The company was very sorry for what it did were for the mortification strategy.

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42 Participants The subjects in this study are graduate and undergraduate students in the United States. One hundred sixty four students in this study were enrolled in t he graduate or undergraduate course of the University of Florida. Twenty eight participants were undergraduate students at State University of New York at Oswego. Although students are not typical targets for crisis situations, previous studies on crisis m anagement have found no difference in responses between students and nonstudent populations, which means that student samples are a good substitute when real world samples are unavailable (Coombs, 1999). Moreover, considering that students are and will be potential stakeholders for many companies products and services selecting college students for this study is an appropriate choice. Participants responses to this study were recorded and stored electronically in a data base for analyses. Data Collection Procedure The experiment was conducted exclusively on the Web. An experimental website for this study was created by using Web platform program, Qualtrics. Subjects who agreed to participate in this study were asked to sign up for the experiment by writi ng their email addresses. Each participant received an email invitation which was linked to a randomly assigned experimental condition on the Web. Students in the sample were contacted via e mail three times. Contacts included a pre notification, a request for participation, and a reminder notice. All students who participated in this online experiment were given some extra credit by their instructors. Subjects were asked to read the stimulus assigned to them and answer the questionnaires. The stimulus cont ained the following: First, an ethics summary for either a high or low ethical organization was presented, followed by a news wire story with either a mortification or denial response to either a transgression or rumor crisis. Next, subjects received ques tionnaires testing for their attitudes attribution of crisis responsibility, organizational reputation, and supportive

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43 behavioral intention. A pre test also was conducted prior to data collection. The manipulation checks for the level of ethics of an org anization, types of crisis, and types of crisis response strategy were conducted in the pretest. The pretest was conducted by an undergraduate class in which there were over 40 students. All students in the class were informed about the experiment by th e researcher. They received one Internet website address among the eight ones, then subjects were asked to access to it and conduct the online experiment according to the researchers instruction. Data Analyses All statistical analyses were completed using the Statistical Package for the Social Science (SPSS) 17.0. Descriptive statistics was used to identify the characteristics of the participants. Exploratory factor analysis was conducted to ensure whether the constructs measuring each variable were compos ed with one factor of items. Also, an independent sample t test was employed for the manipulation checks. As main statistical analysis methods, two way and three way analysis of variance (ANOVA) and correlation analysis were used for the research question and hypothesis testing.

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44 CHAPTER 5 RESULTS Descriptive Statistics Of the total collected data, as reported above five students responses were identified as inconsistent and discarded because the subjects were too discrepant in their response to the rever sed items versus the nonreversed items. This resulted in a subject pool of 192. In this study, 56% were female and 44% were male. About 67% of the participants said they were major ing in communication, 22% were majoring in sports management, with the res t in marketing (5%), engineering (3%), and others (3%). Nineteen percent reported they were enroll ed in graduate program and 80% in undergraduate. Of the undergraduate students, junior s accounted for 77 responses, senior s for 66 responses, and sophomore s f or 12 responses. The age of participants ranged from 19year s old to 59year s old. Regarding ethnicity, 117 (6 1 %) reported their race as White, 28 (15%) as Hispanic/Non White, 19 ( 10%) as Black/African American, 12 (6%) as Asian, 1 ( 1%) as Native Hawaiian/ other Pacific Island, and 15 (7%) were not specified. Table 5 1 summarized the descriptive statistics for demographics of subjects. This study used a 2 (ethics level: high or low) X 2 (crisis type: transgression or rumor) X 2 (crisis response strategy: den ial or mortification) between groups design, which means all the 192 participants read only one of the eight conditions Thirty (15.6%) were exposed to the first condition that consisted of highethical company, transgression type crisis, and denial response strategy. Twenty four (12.5%) were exposed to the second condition composed of high ethical company, transgression type crisis, and mortification response strategy. Twenty two (11.5%) were exposed to the third condition made up of highethical company, rumor type crisis, and denial response strategy. Twenty (10.4) were exposed to the fourth condition comprising highethical company, rumor type crisis, and mortification response strategy. Twenty five (13%) were

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45 exposed to the fifth condition consisted of low ethical company, transgression type crisis, and denial response strategy. Twenty five (13%) were exposed to the sixth condition composed of low ethical company, transgression type crisis, and mortification response strategy. Twenty four (12.5%) were ex posed to the seventh condition comprised of low ethical company, rumor type crisis, and denial response strategy. Last, twenty two (11.5%) were exposed to the eighth condition combined low ethical company, rumor type crisis, and mortification response stra tegy. Table 5 2 summarized the number of subjects for each condition. In other words, 96 participants (50%) read the introduction story about highethical company and 96 (50%) read the introduction story about a low ethical company. One hundred four subjec ts ( 54.2%) were given the news story of transgression type crisis and 88 ( 45.8%) were given the news story of rumor type crisis. Also, 101 participants (5 2.6%) were exposed to the denial response strategy and 91 ( 47.4% ) were exposed to the mortification re sponse strategy. However, because of the imbalance in the number of subjects in each cell, a weighting function was applied to the score of subjects when the data was analyzed. The number of subjects per group ranged from 20 to 30 so using the weighting f unction in SPSS, the researcher equalized the number of each group to get the same score of 24, which was yielded by dividing the total number of subject, 192, by the number of groups, 8. T o test whether subjects were randomly assigned to each group, one w ay ANOVA was conducted by using subject s age as a dependent variable. T he results revealed that there was no significant difference of subjects age for each group (F (7, 184) = 1.14, p > .05). Thus, it can be assumed that the subjects in this study were assigned randomly. Table 5 3 provides the subjects average age per condition.

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46 Reliability A principal axis factor analysis with an oblique rotation was employed to confirm that each scale measured a single dimension. Also, the measurement reliability was examined through the value of Cronbachs alpha. T he questionnaire contained some reversed items in order t o assure the response consistency check (i.e., Circumstances are responsible for the crisis, not the company and The blame for the crisis lies in t he circumstances). The factor analysis for the items of the first dependent variable, crisis responsibility, showed one factor accounting for 70.1% of the variance when the item of I think the cause of the event is beyond the companys control was excluded. If the item was included, the factors were divided into two dimensions. T The factor analysis for the items of organizational reputation indicated one factor accounting for 84.9% of the variance when all the initial items were included. The value of The factor analysis for the items of supportive behavioral intention showed one factor accounting for 78.5% of the variance when three items I would complain to other customers if I experience a problem with the companys service, I would say negative things about the company to people, and I would switch to a competitor if I experience a problem with the companys service were removed from the initial six i the threeitem index was .86. If the three dropped items had been included, the factors were divided into two dimensions and the value of was also low (.76). Regarding the factor analyses for each independ ent variable, all six items for the construct was .98. Also, all items for each construct of rumor type, denial response, and mortification response loaded on one factor, which accounted for 85.5% for rumor type, 85.6% for denial

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47 response, and 84.1% for mortification response. The reliability analysis produced an internal consistency of .85 94 for mortification response. T he factor analysis for the items of the construct of transgression showed one factor which The news story is true was excluded,). The score of factor loading if the item had not been deleted was very low ( = .40). Thus, all reliability scores fell within the acceptable range of the value of Cronbachs .70 (Wimmer & Dominick, 2006). The results of the factor and reliability analy ses are displayed in Table 54. Manipulation Check To validly manipulate three independent variables, as mentioned in the methods part, the manipulation check was conducted two times both on the pretest and on the main test The results of the main test we re consistent with those of the pretest. The pilot test was conducted with 40 subjects under the two groups having perfectly opposite conditions high vs. low ethics, rumor vs. transgression crisis types, and denial vs. mortification response strategies. An independent sample t test was used to assess the effectiveness of the experimental manipulations. The level of ethics of an organization was manipulated using either high or low versions of background information about the company accompanying each int roduction story. Participants were asked to rate, using a Likert type scale ranging from 1 (very strongly disagree) to 7 (very strongly agree), the perceived level of ethics of the company in the study. An independent sample t test found a significant diff erence between the high and low ethical companies (a high ethical company M = 6. 1, S.D. = .87, a low ethical company M = 1.9, S.D. = .64, t (38) = 17.16, p < .001). Similarly, in the main test, there was also a significant difference between high and

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48 low ethical companies ( a high ethical company M = 5.7, S.D. = 1.06, a low ethical company M = 2.1, S.D. = 1.0, t (190) = 24.17, p < .001). Table 5 5 provides of the pretest result of t test for the ethics level. To assess perceptions of the crisis type, two n ews stories about transgression and rumor crises were compared on the items for both transgression index and rumor index. The results indicated significant differences in the items, t (38) = 2.79, p < .01 for the transgression type and t (38) = 6.04, p < .001 for the rumor type. Participants rate the news story of transgression ( M = 4.8, S.D. = 1.35) as more transgression type crisis than the news story of rumor ( M = 3.9, S.D. = .68) when they were asked for the transgression questionnaires. On the other ha nd, participants rate the news story of rumor ( M = 4.6, S.D. = 1.12) as more rumor type crisis than the news story of transgression ( M = 2.8 S.D. = .78) when they were asked for the rumor questionnaires. These results were consistent with those of the main tests (rumor index: transgression M = 3.2, S.D. = 1.07, rumor M = 4.0, S.D. = .92, t (190) = 5.36, p < .001; transgression index: transgression M = 4.9, S.D. = 1.04, rumor M = 4.2, S.D. = .86, t (190) = 4.98, p < .001). Table 56 provides of the pretest result of t test for the crisis type. Finally, to assess perceptions of the crisis response strategy, two news stories about denial and mortification crises response strategies were compared on the items for both denial index and mortification index. The r esults indicated significant differences in the items for the denial response ( t (38) = 9.73, p < .001) and for the mortification response ( t (38) = 8.71, p < .001). Participants rate the news story of denial ( M = 5.5 S.D. = .91) as more denial response s trategy than the news story of mortification ( M = 2.7, S.D. = .89) when they were asked for the transgression questionnaires. On the other hand, participants rate the news story of mortification ( M = 4.9, S.D. = 1.08 ) as more mortification response strateg y than the news story of denial ( M =

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49 2.0, S.D. = .95) when they were asked for the mortification questionnaires. These results were consistent with those of the main tests (denial index: denial M = 5.0, S.D. = 1.07, mortification M = 2.9, S.D. = 1.10, t (1 90) = 13.62, p < .001; mortification index: denial M = 2.6, S.D. = 1.02, mortification M = 4.9, S.D. = .96, t (190) = 16.09, p < .001). Table 5 7 provides the pretest result of t tests for the response strategy. Hypothesis Testing To answer the research q uestion, Pearson correlation analysis was conducted among ethics level variable and dependent variables. Also, a series of analyses of variance (ANOVAs) and simple mean tests were performed in order to test each hypothesis The R elationships among the L evel of E thics of an O rganization and T hree D ependent V ariables. The research question asked what correlation there would be between organizational ethics, attribution of crisis responsibility, reputation of an organization, and stakeholders supportive behavioral intention. The Pearson correlation coefficients revealed that the level of ethics of an organization was significantly positively related to the organizational reputation ( r = .71, p < .01) and supportive behavioral intention ( r = .5 9, p < .01). As e xpected, there was a negative relationship between the level of ethics of an organization and crisis responsibility ( r = .35, p < .01). Also, the results revealed that crisis responsibility was significantly negatively related to other variables, organizational reputation ( r = .57, p < .01) and supportive behavioral intention ( r = .52, p < .01). In regard to the relationship between organizational reputation and supportive behavioral intention, they were highly positively related each other ( r = .7 9, p < .01). The results of the RQ are displayed in Table 58.

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50 The T hreeway E ffect of the E thics L evel, C risis T ype, and R esponse S trategy on T hree D ependent V ariables Hypothesis 1 expected that subjects would show more positive attitudes (less attribution of crisis responsibility, better reputation of an organization, and higher supportive behavioral intention) when rumor and mortification condition are combined by a highethical organization than any other condition. To examine H1, three dependent variables w ere analyzed using a 2 (ethics level: high vs. low) X 2 (crisis type: rumor vs. transgression) X 2 (response strategy: m ortification vs. denial) ANOVA. The results of a threeway ANOVA revealed that there was no significant threeway effect for ethics by c risis type by response strategy on any of the dependent variables. Table 5 9 summarizes the three way ANOVA results. Figure 5 1 shows the results of the H1. The B uffer E ffect of the O rganizational E thics on T hree D ependent V ariables Hypothesis two, four, and six predicted that highorganizational ethics would show more buffering effect on subjects attitudes toward the organization in terms of crisis types. A two way analysis of variance was used to test the above hypotheses. The effects of difference of ethics levels and crisis types were tested using 2 X 2 factorial between subject design based on two levels of ethics (high or low) and two types of crisis (transgression or rumor). First, hypothesis 2 stated that the level of organizational ethics and cris is types will have a two way interaction effect on attribution of crisis responsibility: subjects in a high ethical organization and rumor type crisis will report less attribution of crisis responsibility to an organization than will those in a low ethical organization and transgression type crisis (H2a). The results of twoway ANOVA revealed that there was no significant interaction effect of the ethics level, with crisis type variable on crisis responsibility ( F (1, 192) = .46, p > .05). However, there we re significant main effects of the ethics level and crisis type variables. The results

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51 indicated a significant main effect of the ethics level on the dependent variable, crisis responsibility ( F (1, 192) = 28.28, p < .001, p 2 = .131). Subjects in the highethical company condition expressed weaker crisis responsibility ( M = 4.4, S.D. = .81) than those in the low ethical company condition ( M = 5.1, S.D. = .95 ). Also, the crisis type variable had a significant main effect on crisis responsibility ( F (1, 192) = 8.29, p < .01, p 2 = .042). Subjects in the rumor type crisis condition rated less crisis responsibility ( M = 4.5, S.D. = 1.0 ) than those in the transgression crisis condition ( M = 4.9, S.D. = .96). Thus, H2 was not supported. The results of the H2 are displayed in Table 510 and 5 13. Also, Figure 5 2 present s the results of H 2. Second, hypothesis 4 stated that the level of organizational ethics and crisis types will have a two way interaction effect on reputation of an organization: subjects in a highethical organizati on and rumor type crisis will report better reputation of an organization than will those in a low ethical organization and transgression type crisis (H4a). The results of twoway ANOVA revealed that there was a significant interaction effect between the ethics level and crisis type variables on organizational reputation ( F (1, 192) = 4.41, p < .05, p 2 = .023). It should be noted that the difference of organizational reputation can be stemmed form the interaction effect of ethics level and cri sis type, not from the main effect of ethics level or crisis type, because there was the significant interaction effect of the two variables. Also, the means showed that high ethics and rumor condition generated the best reputation of an organization ( M = 4.5, S.D. = .80) and the combination of low ethics and transgression generated the worst reputation of an organization ( M = 2.3, S.D. = .95). Thus, H4a and H4b were supported. The results of the H4 are displayed in Table 511 and 513. Also, Figure 5 2 pr esent s the results of H 4.

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52 Third, hypothesis 6 stated that the level of organizational ethics and crisis types will have a two way interaction effect on supportive behavioral intention: subjects in a highethical organization and rumor type crisis will report highe r supportive behavioral intention than will those in a low ethical organization and transgression type crisis (H6a). There was no significant interaction effect of the two variables, the ethics level and crisis type, on supportive behavioral intent ion ( F (1, 192) = .01, p > .05). The results indicated a significant main effect of the ethics level on supportive behavioral intention ( F (1, 192) = 60.14, p < .001, p 2 = .242). Subjects in the highethical company condition expressed strong er supportive behavioral intention ( M = 3.9, S.D. = .93) than those in the low ethical company condition ( M = 2.7, S.D. = 1.18). However, the crisis type variable did not have a significant main effect on supportive behavioral intention ( F (1, 192) = 1.29, p > .05). Thus, H6a was not supported. The results of H6 are displayed in Tables 512 and 513. Also, Figure 52 present s the results of H 6. The H alo E ffect of the O rganizational E thics on three D ependent V ariables Hypothesis three, five, and seven predi cted that high organizational ethics would show more halo effect on subjects attitudes toward the organization in terms of crisis response strategies. The hypotheses were analyzed using a 2 (highethical company and low ethical company) X 2 (denial response and mortification response). First, hypothesis 3 posited that the level of organizational ethics and response strategies will have a two way interaction effect on attribution of crisis responsibility: subjects in a high ethical organization and mortific ation response will report less attribution of crisis responsibility to an organization than will those in a low ethical organization and denial response crisis (H3a) According to the results of twoway ANOVA, the interaction effect of ethics level and response strategies was not significant ( F ( 1, 192 ) = .85, p > .05). However, the results revealed a significant main effect of ethics variable on the dependent variable, crisis responsibility ( F ( 1,

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53 192) = 25.83, p < .001, p 2 = .121). The attribution of crisis responsibility was less in the high ethical company condition ( M = 4.4, S.D. = .89 ) than in the low ethical company condition ( M = 5.1, S.D. = S.D. = .97). Also, there was a statistically significant main effect for crisis response strategies on crisis responsibility, F ( 1, 192 ) = 15.53, p < .001, p 2 = .076. Subjects thought stakeholders would be less likely to attribute crisis responsibility to the denial response condition ( M = 4.5, S.D. = 1.0 ) than to the mortification condition ( M = 5.0, S.D. = .91). This result is opposite to previous studies on the effects of crisis response strategy. The finding is examined in the discussion section. Thus, H3 did not receive support. Table 514 and 5 17 presents the results of the H3. Also, Figure 5 3 present s the results of H 3. Second, hypothesis 5 posited that the level of organizational ethics and response strategy will have a two way interaction effect on reputation of an organization: subjects in a high ethical organization and mortification will repor t better reputation of an organization than will those in a low ethical organization and denial response (H5a). The results of two way ANOVA revealed that there was no significant interaction effect of the ethics level and response strategies on organizational reputation ( F ( 1, 192) = .60, 192, p > .05). Also, the results revealed that there were significant main effects of the ethics level and response strategy variables. The results indicated a signif icant main effect of the ethics level on the dependent variable, organizational reputation ( F ( 1, 192) = 148.90, p < .001, p 2 = .442). The perceptions of organizational reputation was more favorable in the highethical company condition ( M = 4 .1, S.D. = 1.0) than in the low ethical company condition ( M = 2.3, S.D. = 1.04). Also, response strategy variable had a significant main effect on organizational reputation variable ( F ( 1, 192) = 5.07, p < .05, p 2 = .026). Respondents thought stakeholders would be more likely to show high organizational reputation in the mortification condition ( M = 3.4, S.D. = 1.37) than in the denial response

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54 condition ( M = 3.1, S.D. = 1.33). H5 was not supported. Table 515 and 51 7 presents the results of the H5. Also, Figure 5 3 pr ovides the results of H 5. Third, hypothesis 7 posited that the level of organizational ethics and response strategies will have an interaction effect on supportive behavioral intention: subjects in a highethical organization and mortification response will report highe r supportive behavioral intention than will those in a low ethical organization and denial response (H7a) There was no significant interaction effect of the two variables, the ethics level and response strategy, on supportive behavioral intention ( F ( 1, 192) = .08, p > .05). The results revealed a significant main effect of ethics variable on the dependent variable, supportive behavioral intention ( F ( 1, 192) = 58.98, p < .001, p 2 = .590). The perceptions of supportive behavioral intention was more favorable in the high ethical company condition ( M = 3.9, S.D. = .93) than in the low ethical company condition ( M = 2.7, S.D. = 1.18 ). However, there was no significant main effect of response strategies on supportive behavioral intention ( F ( 1, 192) = .29, p > .05). Thus, H7 was not supported. Table 516 and 517 presents the results of the H7. Figure 5 3 present s the results of H 7.

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55 Table 5 1. Descriptive statistics for demographics of subjects Item n % Gender Fem ale 108 56 Male 84 44 Age 19 years 13 7 20 years 42 22 21 years 62 3 1 22 years 20 10 23 years 13 7 24 30 years 28 1 5 Over than 30 years 1 4 8 E ducation Level Graduate 37 19 Undergraduate 155 81 Major Communication 128 67 Sports Management 42 22 Marketing 10 5 Engineering 6 3 Others 6 3 Ethnicity White 117 61 Hispanic / Non White 28 15 Black / African Ameri can 19 10 Asian 12 6 Native Hawaiian / Other Pacific Island 1 1 Not Specified 15 7

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56 Table 52. The number of subjects for each condition. Transgression (%) Rumor (%) Denial Mortification Denial Mortification High Ethics 30 (15.6) 24 (12.5) 22 (11.5) 20 (10.4) Low Ethics 25 (13) 25 (13) 24 (12.5) 22 (11.5) Table 53. Subjects average age per condition. Transgression (S.D.) Rumor (S.D.) Denial Mortification Denial Mortification F value Significance High Ethics 21 (1 .3) 24 (6.0) 22 (3.0) 22 (3.1) 1.14 .342 Low Ethics 23 (5.7) 22 (4.4) 24 (8.5) 24 (8.6) df = 7 / 184

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57 Table 54. Factor analysis and reliability analysis for indices Item Factor Loadings Cronbachs Crisis Responsibility The com pany should be blamed. .877 .89 The company should bear the responsibility for the event. .853 The blame for the crisis lies with the company. .816 Circumstances are responsible for the crisis, not the company. .832 The blame for the cris is lies in the circumstances. .806 Organizational Reputation I admire and respect the company. .946 .96 I have a good feeling about the company. .940 I trust this company to tell the truth about the incident. .933 The company maintains high standards in the way it treats people. .928 The company is basically honest. .906 The company looks like a good company to work for. .878 Supportive Behavioral Intention I would purchase the companys products/services. .943 .86 I would recommend the companys products/services to a friend. .935 I would invest in the company. .769 Ethics I can trust the company. .968 .98 The company is concerned with what is legal. .944 The company is concerned with what is morally right. .976 The com pany is highly regarded as far as business ethics is concerned. .953 The company treats its public with respect. .942 The company is socially responsible. .963 Crisis Type Transgression The company is the main cause of this event. .750 .78 The company deceived the public. .914 The company violated the law. .844 Rumor The news story is a rumor. .936 .85 The news story is false information. .936

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58 Table 5 4. Continued Item Factor Loadings Cronbachs Response Strategy Denial The company blamed others. .926 .83 The company denied doing the event. .926 Mortification After the crisis, the company took responsibility. .905 .94 The company said it acce pted responsibility for the wrongdoing. .934 The company expressed apology for the incident to the public. .943 The company was very sorry for what it did. .886 Note Reversed items Table 55. Manipulation check for e thics l evel High (n=20) Lo w (n=20) M (S.D.) M (S.D.) t value df Significance Ethics Level 6.1 (.87) 1.9 (.64) 17.16 38 p < .001 Table 56. Manipulation c heck f o r crisis type Transgression Index Transgression (n=20) Rumor (n=20) M (S.D.) M (S.D.) t value df Sign ificance Crisis Type 4.8 (1.35) 3. 9 (.68) 2.79 38 p < .01 Rumor Index Transgression (n=20) Rumor (n=20) t value df Significance Crisis Type 2.8 (.78) 4.6 (1.12) 6.04 38 p < .001

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59 Table 57. Manipulation c heck for r esponse s trategy Deni al Index Denial (n=20) Mortification (n=20) M (S.D.) M (S.D.) t value df Significance Response Strategy 5. 5 (.91) 2.7 (.89) 9.73 38 p < .001 Mortification Index Denial (n=20) Mortification (n=20) t value df Significance Response S trategy 2.0 (.95) 4. 9 (1.08) 8.71 38 p < .001 Table 58. Correlation between the l evel of e thics, c risis r esponsibility, organizational r eputation, and s upportive behavioral i ntention. Ethics Responsibility Reputation Behavioral Intention Ethics .35 ** 71 ** .5 9 ** Responsibility .5 7 ** .52** Reputation .7 9 ** ** p < .01 Table 59. Univariate f values for the dependent variables Source Crisis Responsibility Organizational Reputation Supportive Behavioral Intention Ethics (A) 28.62*** 161.48*** 58.73*** Crisis Type (B) 8.89** 6.57* 1.25 Response Strategy (C) 16.80*** 4.92* .33 A by B .61 4.41* .00 A by C 1.17 .64 .08 B by C .46 .41 .43 A by B by C .20 1.32 .23 df = 7 / 184 p < .05 ** p < .01 *** p < .001

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60 Table 5 10. Univariate analysis of variance for crisis responsibility by ethics and crisis type Source SS df F p ns Total 4495.52 192 Ethics 24.06 1 28.28 < .001 Crisis Type 7.05 1 8.29 < .01 Ethics by Crisis Typ e .40 1 .46 .496 Table 5 11. Univariate analysis of variance for organizational reputation by ethics and crisis type. Source SS df F p ns Total 2357.61 192 Ethics 159.17 1 158.27 < .001 Crisis Type 6.45 1 6.42 < .05 Ethic s by Crisis Type 4.44 1 4.41 < .05 Table 5 12. Univariate analysis of variance for supportive behavioral intention by ethics and crisis type. Source SS df F p ns Total 2342.56 192 Ethics 69.0 8 1 60.14 < .001 Crisis Type 1.49 1 1.29 .257 Ethics by Crisis Type .01 1 .01 .976

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61 Table 5 13. Means and standard deviations for crisis responsibility, organizational reputation, and supportive behavioral intention by ethics level and crisis type Dependent Variable Ethics L evel Transgression Rumor Total Crisis Responsibility High Mean 4.6 4.1 4.4 S.D. .84 .89 .81 (54) (42) (96) Low Mean 5.2 4.9 5.1 S.D. .99 .95 .95 (50) (46) (96) Total Mean 4.9 4.5 4.7 S.D. .96 1.00 .99 (104) (88) (1 92) Organizational Reputation High Mean 3.8 4.5 4.1 S.D. 1.05 .80 1.00 (54) (42) (96) Low Mean 2.3 2.4 2.3 S.D. .95 1.14 1.04 (50) (46) (96) Total Mean 3.1 3.4 3.2 S.D. 1.26 1.45 1.36 (104) (88) (192) Behavioral I ntention High Mean 3.8 4.0 3.9 S.D. .99 .86 .93 (54) (42) (96) Low Mean 2.6 2.8 2.7 S.D. .98 1.37 1.18 (50) (46) (96) Total Mean 3.2 3.3 3.3 S.D. 1.15 1.30 1.22 (104) (88) (192)

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62 Table 5 14. Univariate analysis of variance for crisis responsibility by ethics and response strategy. Source SS df F p ns Total 4495.52 192 Ethics 21.16 1 25.83 < .001 Response Strategy 12.72 1 15.53 < .001 Ethics by Response Strategy .70 1 .85 .358 Table 5 15. Univariat e analysis of variance for organizational reputation by ethics and response strategy Source SS df F p ns Total 2357.61 192 Ethics 153.67 1 148.90 < .001 Response Strategy 5.23 1 5.07 < .05 Ethics by Response Strategy .62 1 .60 .439 Table 5 16. Univariate analysis of variance for supportive behavioral intention by ethics and response strategy. Source SS df F p ns Total 2342.56 192 Ethics 68.07 1 58.98 < .001 Response Strategy .34 1 .29 .590 Ethics by Response Strategy .09 1 .08 .785

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63 Table 5 17. Means and standard deviations for crisis responsibility, organizational reputation, and supportive behavioral intention by ethics level and response strategy Dependent Variable Ethics Level Denial Mortification Total Crisis Responsibility High Mean 4.1 4.7 4.4 S.D. .78 .90 .89 (52) (44) (96) Low Mean 4.9 5.3 5.1 S.D. 1.05 .85 .97 (49) (47) (96) Total Mean 4.5 5.0 4.7 S.D. 1.00 .91 .99 (101) (91) (192) Organizational Reputation High Mean 4.0 4.2 4.1 S.D. .88 1.13 1.00 (52) (44) (96) Low Mean 2.1 2.6 2.3 S.D. .99 1.05 1.04 (49) (47) (96) Total Mean 3.1 3.4 3.2 S.D. 1.33 1.37 1.36 (101) (91) (192) Behavioral Intentio n High Mean 3.9 3.8 3.9 S.D. .81 1.07 .93 (52) (44) (96) Low Mean 2.7 2.7 2.7 S.D. 1.20 1.17 1.18 (49) (47) (96) Total Mean 3.3 3.2 3.3 S.D. 1.19 1.26 1.22 (101) (91) (192)

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64 Crisis Responsibility Mortification Denial Organizational Reputation Mortification Denial Supportive Behavioral Intention Mortification Denial Figure 51. Ethics by crisis type by response strategy three way interaction s

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65 Crisis Responsibility Organizational Reputation Supportive Behavioral Intention Figure 52. Ethics by crisis type Crisis Responsibility Organizational Reputation Supportive Behavioral Intention Figure 53. Ethics by response strategy

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66 CHAPTER 6 DISCUSSION Summary of Key Findings The results of this study of organizational ethics in crisis communic ation have not only extended our understanding of the role and value of organizational ethics, but also demonstrated their effects and importance in crisis communication. This study yielded some critical results. The level of organizational ethic had sign ificantly positive relationship with organizational reputation ( r = .71) and supportive behavioral intention ( r = .59) and a negative relationship with attribution of crisis responsibility ( r = .35). In regard to a threeway effect, this study did not show the significant effect of ethics level by crisis type by response strategy on the attribution of crisis responsibility, organizational reputation, or supportive behavioral intention. However, there was the interaction effect of ethics level by crisis typ e on the organizational reputation. Another result in this study is that the ethics level variable had main effects on all three dependent variables, while crisis type and response strategy variables did not have the main effect on the supportive behaviora l intention variable. First, the answers to the research question indicated that the level of ethics of an organization has positive relationships with organizational reputation and supportive behavioral intention and a negative relationship with attribution of crisis responsibility. This finding can be explained in the context that stakeholders perceptions of the level of organizational ethics can play a positive role in crisis management. The results revealed that subjects were more likely to attribute a better reputation and less crisis responsibility to a highly ethical company when the company faced a rumor crisis than when it faced a transgression crisis. However, these findings were not found regardless of the types of crises that a less ethical com pany faced Thus, it is

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67 possible that the ethics an organization possesses could change the effects of its crisis communication and management. Likewise, according to the results of each twoway ANOVA, between ethics level and crisis type and between ethi cs level and response strategy, the ethics level variable had main effects on all dependent variables. Meanwhile, the variables of crisis type and response strategy had main effects on only two dependent variables. For example, with regard to supportive be havioral intention, there was no significant difference according to crisis type and response strategy variables. Only the ethics level variable had a main effect on the supportive behavioral intention variable. This result indicates the importance of unde rstanding the moderating influence of the ethics level variable on organizational crisis management. Second, an interaction effect was found only in the combination of ethics level and crisis type to organizational reputation. This finding strengthens cri sis communication scholars suggestions about organizational reputation. Many scholars have argued that organizational reputation is one of the most susceptible organizational assets in a crisis ( Allen & Caillouet, 1994; Benoit, 1995; Benoit & Pang, 2008; Brinson & Benoit, 1999). Thus, t hey defined the ultimate goal of crisis management as the reduction or elimination of organizational reputation damage from a crisis. For example, Benoit and Pang (2008) said that organizational reputation is so strongly ass ociated with a companys business activities, such as the consumers willingness to purchase its goods and services, the governments regulation of its actions, or the price of its stocks, that organizational reputation can not only influence them, but als o be influenced by them. Third, in regard to the three way interaction effect, the researcher expected a mortification response to a rumor crisis communicated by a highly ethical organization to have more favorable influence on attributed crisis responsibi lity, organizational reputation, and supportive behavioral

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68 intention than any other condition. Although the three way interaction effect was not found, a n important fact that can be gleaned from the results is that it is possible that the previous suggesti on insisting that a mortification response is the panacea in crisis might be false. In fact, it is interesting to note that unlike the expectations of hypotheses 3, the denial response strategy let stakeholders attribute the least crisis responsibility to an organization regardless of which level of ethics and which type of crisis were considered. Recently, some crisis scholars have raised questions about the effectiveness of apology or mortification response strategy (Coombs & Holladay, 2008). This finding will be discussed further in the implication section. The above results of this study have both academic and practical implications for those who are interested in the topic of organizational ethics management and crisis dynamics. Theoretical Implication s The result s of the research questions w ere consistent with past research examining the relationships between attribution of crisis responsibility, organizational reputation, and behavioral intention. The findings of this study supported the results of SC CT (Coombs, 2008) that the stronger the attributions of crisis responsibility, the more the crisis can damage the organizational reputation and, in turn, affect future interactions with the organization and that a negative reputation should result in le ss supportive behavior from stakeholders, while a positive reputation should engender more (pp. 268) The findings of this study extended previous results by revealing the direct relationship between attributed crisis responsibility and supportive behavioral intention. I t confirmed that attributed crisis responsibility is negatively related to all variables the ethics level of an organization, organizational reputation, and supportive behavioral intention. M ore theoretical research is needed to determine the antecedent factors that may affect stakeholders perception of crisis responsibility in order to identify the role of crisis responsibility attribution in the process of crisis management

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69 The findings of the role of organizational ethics in a crisis have theoretical implications for researchers in the field of crisis communication For example, the analysis found no ma in effect of crisis type and response strategy on supportive behavioral intention. However, the difference of supportive behavioral intention was found for the level of ethics variable. Persuasion theories such as the Theory of Reasoned Action (Fishbein & Ajzen, 1975), the Theory of Planned Behavior (Ajzen, 1991), and the Accessibility Theory (Fazio & Roskos Ewoldsen, 1994) explain the process in which the final aspect, behavioral intention or actual behavior, is controlled by many antecedent indicators or factors such as beliefs, motivation, attitude, subjective norms, and so on. We may conclude that stakeholders supportive behavioral intentions in crisis situations can be controlled by their perception of organizational ethics, not by crisis type and response strategy, which means that supportive behavioral intention in crisis environments may be affected more by long term relationship s with stakeholders or their perceptions and evaluations of an organization than by other short term based factors such as crisis type or response strategy. From a theoretical viewpoint, this conclusion may emphasize not only the importance of long term re lationship with stakeholders through organization s ethical business performances and CSR activities, but also the needs of systematical crisis management, and in turn, result in expanding the range of crisis research in terms of pre during and post le vels. In regard to the effectiveness of response strategy, people are likely to think that an organization using a mortification response is more responsible for a crisis than an organization using a denial response. In other words, stakeholders may act m ore favorably towards the company denying crisis responsibility than the company apologizing for the crisis. It is possible that, in comparison to the denial response strategy, mortification might not guarantee a halo or

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70 buffer effect in crisis management. This suggestion is along the same lines as recent study results. Some recent research denied apology as the best response strategy and pointed out that the value of an apology has been overestimated in crisis communication (Coombs & Holladay, 2008). Moreover, the results of different response strategies provide more questions than answers when considering that the denial response caused subjects to have more a favorable attitude in regardless of the ethical level of the organ i zation. Thus, we can assume that the effectiveness of response strategy would not differ according to the endogenous factors of an organization such as its ethics or image, but rather, according to exogenous factors such as the victims, crisis type, crisis development phase, and so for th. Such factors should be considered in order to examine and test the crisis response strategy effect. Practical Implications Experimental research in crisis communication can help crisis managers make better informed decisions ( Coombs & Holladay, 2008; H wang & Cameron, 2009; Jin & Cameron, 2007; Kim & Yang, 2009; Lyon & Cameron, 2004; Payne, 2006) This study provides valuable insights into how important organizational ethics are, what factors can affect stakeholders perceptions and attitudes, and how ef fects can differ in crisis management. One practical implication of this study for crisis management practitioners is that the level of organizational ethics is one of very important factor s in crisis communication. As the perception of an organizations ethics cannot be created in a day, it is important for all persons in charge of an organization including crisis managers to keep ethical policies in mind whenever they interact with the public and foster relationships with stakeholders. Such critical, pre crisis management activities may lead to people considering the organization as a highly ethical one. To this end, an organization needs to issue and announce the code of ethics that can help its employees conduct their tasks in accordance with the ethical standards. T he code of ethics

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71 usually include s honesty, transparency, openness, responsible publication, social responsibility, legality, human subject protection, and so on (Davis, 2002) I n addition, public relations and crisis managers may follow the universal ethical principles suggested by Gert (1988), Kohlberg (1981, 1984), and Piaget (1965). Baker and Martinson (2001) also listed five criteria to evaluate the ethics levels of public relations activities: authenticity, respect, truthfulness, equity and social responsibility. In fact, Coleman and Wilkins (2009) evaluated the moral development scores of professionals using these five criteria. Public relations professionals ranked fourth highest in moral development, along with journalists and nurses Seminarians and philosophers ranked highest, followed by physicians. The findings of this study also reflect a better sense of crisis management in terms of which crisis strategies should be implemented first and which should be developed most cautious ly. Since attribution of crisis responsibility is negatively related to organizational ethics, reputation, and behavioral intention, people are likely to have negative attitudes toward an organization facing a crisis when they think that the organization i s responsible for the crisis. Thus, in the first phase of a crisis, the crisis manager should make plans to lessen the degree to which publics attribute crisis responsibility to the organization. Crisis management practitioners should also develop crisis s trategies for protecting the organizations reputation from the crisis. The results of this study reveal that organizational reputation can be more easily affected by crisis than any other attributes. Druckenmiller (1993) noted that organizational reputati on should be given continual attention because it is the sum of many parts of an organizations assets including its products or services, years of recognition equity, a well known CEO, sponsorship, and advertising. Hence, the crisis manager must strategiz e for organizational reputation because

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72 it is considered not only the most important asset that should be protected in crisis, but also the most susceptible asset that can be damaged in crisis. Lastly, crisis practitioners must exercise utmost care in cho osing the right response to a crisis situation. As discussed, the results of this study indicated that stakeholders tend to think that a company with a mortification response is more responsible for a crisis than a company with a denial response is, but it would be nave for practitioners to believe that a denial response always has better results than a mortification response. Crisis managers should focus on the other results of this study, in which the worst attitude was also shown in denial response for organizational reputation. Therefore, crisis practitioners need to choose the best response strategy by considering organizational ethics level and crisis type as well as the goal of crisis management Limitations and Future Studies This study has identifi ed the importance of organizational ethics and provided answers to questions about its dynamics in a crisis situation. However, many limitations and questions remain. One limitation of this study is the subjects Al though previous research reports that the re is no difference in response between students and nonstudent populations (Coombs, 1999), it is difficult to generalize the results of this study using student subjects only. Moreover, this study was based not on random sampling, but convenien ce samplin g, which may have resulted in a pool dominated by students in specific majors (i.e., communications or sports management). Therefore, the results should not be generalized to all stakeholders in crises. A second limitation is that only a small set of cond itions was tested in the present research. SCCT (Coombs & Holladay, 2002) and IRT (Benoit, 1995) suggest thirteen types of crisis and fourteen kinds of response strategy. This study examined organizational ethics in only transgression and rumor crises combined with denial and mortification responses. Other crisis

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73 types and crisis response strategies were not tested in this study. Thus, the results are restricted to limited crisis situation s and should not be generalized to other crisis types or response str ategies. It should be also noted that an online experiment has the problems of either internal or external validity, which may have an impact on its results in that not only may online experiments attract only highly motivated subjects, but also lead to m ore subjects dropping out in the process (Wimmer & Dominick, 2006). Thus, as Wimmer & Dominick (2006) suggested, an online experiment would be an appropriate alternative method when it desires to study a population segment other than college students or when tight control of experimental setting is not a crucial element of the study (pp. 252). In addition, this study did not examine the causes and effects among the variables of attributed crisis responsibility, organizational reputation, and behavioral intention, but rather found out the relationships among them through correlation analysis. However, these factors may be intermediate or moderating variables. Therefore, it is hoped that this study will inspire further research into the examination of the factors that affect stakeholders attitudes towards organizations facing crisis, using path analyses through methods like Structural Equation Modeling. Moreover, although this study contributes to a general understanding of the relationship between organi zational ethics and crisis communication through controlled experimental research, future studies should seek to observe the effectiveness of organizational ethics in crisis through in depth interviews with public relations and crisis practitioners as well as case studies in a variety of crisis contexts and participant observation. This study is an initial study that examined organizational ethics role in crisis management. The concept of ethics may be one of the factors indicating the degree to which an organization has relationships with its stakeholders. Thus, future study is necessary to extend to

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74 the concept of relationships with publics by focusing on how stakeholders use their emotions and images to attribute crisis responsibility to an organization A relational approach to crisis management will provide insights into how stakeholders perceive crisis situations, help crisis managers determine which strategies are best to rebuild relationships between an organization and stakeholders, and protect org anizational reputations (Coombs, 2000; Lyon & Cameron, 2004). This study used traditional, newspaper style response materials. Further research is needed to understand the use of new media in crisis communication. Considering that crisis situations requir e timely, mediated responses addressing targeted stakeholders, new media may play a critical role in communicating with stakeholders because, unlike traditional media, new media have some dynamic features such as fast distribution of information, twoway c ommunication, and customized messages. Therefore, future studies using new media response stimuli could yield different findings and insights. Finally, from the standpoint of public relations, future research is necessary to examine the function and impor tance of public relations leadership in crisis management by comparing it to those of legal and financial departments. Despite the importance of the relationship between an organization and its stakeholders in a crisis situation, most crisis managers have dealt with crises by using legal or financial viewpoints. Thus, legal and financial departments have been given priority in resolving crises. However, it is possible for public relations communication and leadership to contribute to handling crises and con flicts. In fact, previous studies have already confirmed that public relations leadership can affect the effectiveness of persuasive tasks and organizational problem solving (Werder & Holtzhausen, 2009). It would be interesting to explore

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75 how public relations leadership affects conflict resolution and what types of public relations leadership can influence the strategic decision making process in a crisis situation.

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76 APPENDIX A S TIMULUS MATERIALS Introduction Stories of a High Ethical and Low Ethical Company A H igh E thical C ompany, Jack & Hill. Jack & Hill (J&H), the leading health and hygiene company that makes diapers, feminine care products, facial tissue and bathroom tissue, is famous for its more than 25 years of social contribution that have had an i mpact on business performance. Its highprofile environmental campaign, Keep U.S. Green, has played a crucial role in enhancing the companys reputation and building consumer trust. This consumer trust has helped the J&H achieve economic growth, despite the backdrop of the global economic downturn in 2008 and 2009. Their economic growth stemmed from continued efforts to build an innovative corporate culture with life long learning programs and family friendly management and to fulfill its corporate socia l responsibilities by conducting ethical management and environmental management. As a result of such efforts, in 2008, this company received the highest grade in American Business Ethics Index (ABEX) from the Institute for Industry Policy Studies and in 2007, the most socially responsible. In addition, J&H was the first to be certified as a family friendly company by the U.S. government and according to a 2008 survey conducted by Incruit, an online job portal site, the company was selected as one of the best companies to work for by U.S. university students. Most of all, in 2009, the J&H was named the most admired company for a sixth consecutive year by International Management Association Consulting.

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77 A L ow E thical C ompany, Jack & Hill. Jack & Hill (J &H), founded in 1952, has diversified its business portfolio to become the Nations 10th largest conglomerate in terms of assets. It has 34 domestic affiliates and a global network of 43 branches and subsidiaries in three core business sectors: Manufactur ing & Construction, Finance, and Services & Leisure. Despite its huge business size, J&H has never been listed among ethical or admirable companies. Instead, the company has been accused of unethical and illegal business scandals several times over the past decades. For example, in 2009, this company was indicted for illegal political donations in 2008 and for illegally lobbying lawmakers. The company developed a slush fund through unscrupulous accounting and used the slush fund to finance millions of dollars in illegal political donations to the two presidential campaign camps. The companys chairman was sentenced to three years in prison for putting together the huge sum of money and sliding it under the table to political benefactors. This is not th e first run in with the law. J&Hs chairman was arrested in 2000 on charge of violating foreign currency rules. Recently, the chairman beat bar employees in revenge for an attack on his son at a downtown saloon and at a construction site. The Court gave him a three year suspended sentence, and ordered him to do 200 hours of community service.

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78 Copies of News Stories Transgression and Denial Jack & Hill Denies All Allegations CHICAGO (AP) The Jack & Hill (J&H) chairman was arrested on allegations of t ax evasion, insider trading and bribery. The company is suspected of evading twenty nine million dollars in capital gains taxes, pocketing twenty million dollars in profits from insider trading and giving two million dollars in bribes to a former chief of the Ministry for Health, Welfare and Family Affairs (MHWF) in a bid to acquire an MHWF affiliate at a price cheaper than that offered by another bidder, all between 2008 and 2009. J&H denied the allegation today and released an official statement. We ca nnot but think that there are whistle blowers with harmful intentions against our company, because it is so groundless, said the spokesperson for J&H. The lawyer of J&H said it is going to take all possible legal actions against people who spread the fal se reports and is seeking legal recourse against Internet users who have distributed the false reports. Rumor and Denial Jack & Hill Denies Biz Rumors CHICAGO (AP) There have been rumors that Jack & Hill (J&H) may sell some of its biggest affiliate s, as the chairman decided to convert up to $25 billion of its preferred stock into common stock. This would increase the stake in the firm from 8 percent to 36 percent. Among stockholders, there is a speculation that J&H is so suffering from serious financial troubles that it would have to carry out massive layoffs before selling some affiliates. However, J&H reiterated yesterday that it will not put some of the biggest affiliates up for sale. The affiliates are markets where J&H enjoys stable, continu ed growth and is profitable. There is no reason to sell the business units, the chairman said in a press conference. We cannot but think that there are people spreading the rumor with harmful intentions against our company, because it is so groundless and we have been constantly saying so, said the spokesperson for J&H.

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79 Transgression and Mortification Jack & Hill Apologizes All Allegations CHICAGO (AP) The Jack & Hill (J&H) chairman was arrested on allegations of tax evasion, insider trading and bri bery. The company is suspected of evading twenty nine million dollars in capital gains taxes, pocketing twenty million dollars in profits from insider trading and giving two million dollars in bribes to a former chief of the Ministry for Health, Welfare a nd Family Affairs (MHWF) in a bid to acquire an MHWF affiliate at a price cheaper than that offered by another bidder, all between 2008 and 2009. J&H issued a statement that the company will admit all wrongdoing in an ongoing investigation into corruption allegations. We sincerely apologize for all the troubles we caused you with regard to the special investigation. We will assume all legal and moral responsibility. We will accept the special counsels investigation results and do our best to prevent such things from happening again said the spokesperson for J&H. Rumor and Mortification Jack & Hill Apologizes Biz Rumors CHICAGO (AP) There have been rumors that Jack & Hill (J&H) may sell some of its biggest affiliates, as the chairman decided t o convert up to $25 billion of its preferred stock into common stock. This would increase the stake in the firm from 8 percent to 36 percent. Among stockholders, there is a speculation that J&H is so suffering from serious financial troubles that it woul d have to carry out massive layoffs before selling some affiliates. The companys chairman apologized for causing social trouble and released an official statement. I think it is due to our companys carelessness, said the chairman. He pledged that, despite the appearance of the financial troubles at the company, J&H is financially sound so that he would do his utmost to transform the problem into an organizational plan that can win the trust and love from the citizens.

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80 APPENDIX B QUESTIONNAIRE THANKS FOR AGREEING TO PARTICIPATE IN THE EXPERIMENTAL RESEARCH SURVEY! Once you begin the survey, please do not leave the survey website for the validity of the study. Please read the introduction story of a company and the news wire story about the company carefully and answer all questions. Present two stimuli The questionnaire should take only about 15 minutes to complet e. This survey is not designed to figure out your knowledge about crisis management. Thus, there is no right or wr ong answer. Just answer the questions acco rdi ng to your thoughts and feelings. Your answers will be used only for statistical purposes and wil l remain strictly confidential.

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81 After reading the materials how would you think about the responsibility of this event ? Please circle the number that best represents your response on the 7 point scale provided, where 1 equals Very St rongly Disagree and 7 equals Very Strongly Agree. After reading the materials how would you evaluate the reputation of the company ? Please circle the number that best represents your response on the 7 point scale provided, where 1 equals Very Stron gly Disagree and 7 equals Very Strongly Agree. Very Strongly D isagree Very Strongly A gree 1 I think the company should be blamed 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 2 I think the company should bear the responsibility for the event. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 3 I think t he blame for the crisis lies with the company. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 4 I think the cause of the event is beyond the companys control 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 5 I think c ircumstances are responsible for the crisis, not the company. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 6 I think t he blame for the crisis lies in the circumstances. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Very Strongly D isagree Very Strongly A gree 1 I admire and respect the company. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 2 I have a good feeling about the company. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 3 I trust this company to tell the truth about the incident. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 4 The company maintains high standards in the way it treats people 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 5 The company is basically honest 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 6 The company looks like a good company to work for. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

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82 After reading the ma terials how would you support the company ? Please circle the number that best represents your response on the 7 point scale provided, where 1 equals Very Strongly Disagree and 7 equals Very Strongly Agree. Please check the extent to which you agree with the following statement about the company ? Please circle the number that best represents your response on the 7 point scale provided, where 1 equals Very Strongly Disagree and 7 equals Very Strongly Agree. Please check the extent to which you agree with the following statement about the company ? Very Strongly D isagree Very Strongly A gree 1 I would p urchase the companys products/services 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 2 I would r ecommend the companys products/services to a friend. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 3 I would invest in the company 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 4 I would complain to other customers if I experience a problem with the companys service 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 5 I would s ay negative things about the company to people 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 6 I would s witch to a competitor if I experience a problem with the companys service 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Very Strongly D is agree Very Strongly A gree 1 I can trust the company. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 2 The company is concerned with what is legal. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 3 The company is concerned with what is morally right. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 4 The company is highly regarded as far as busines s ethics is concerned 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 5 The company treats its public with respect 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 6 The company is socially responsible. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

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83 Please circle the number that best represents your response on the 7point scale provided, where 1 equals Very Strongly Disagree and 7 equals Very Strongly Agree. Please check the extent to which you agree with the following statement about the companys response to the event ? Please circle the number that best represents your response on the 7 point scale provided, where 1 equals Very Strongly Disagree and 7 e quals Very Strongly Agree. YOU ARE NEARLY THROUGH! However, I need s ome data to help me analyze the results of this survey, so please answer the questions below. The following questions include some basic biographical data about you. You cannot be identified from your responses. Very Strongly Disagree Very Strongly Agree 1 The news story is a rumor. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 2 The news story is false information 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 3 The news story is true. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 4 The company is the main cause of this event. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 5 The company deceived the public. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 6 The company violated the law. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Very Strongly D isagree Very Strongly A gree 1 The company blamed others. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 2 The company denied doing the event. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 3 After the crisis, the company took responsibility 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 4 The compa ny said it accepted responsibility for the wrongdoing. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 5 The company expressed apolog y for the incident to the public. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 6 The company was very sorry for what it did. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

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84 1. Gender ? Male Femal e 2. How old are you? _________ years old 3. What is your current level of education? Freshmen Sophomore Junior Senior Graduate student Other 4. What is your major? 5. What is your ethnic background? American Indian / Alaska Native Black / African American White Hispanic / NonWhite Asian Native Hawaiian / Oth Pac Island Not specified 6. For the extra credit assignment, please put your Gator ID (e.g., 12345678) This question is for only U F undergraduate students who are asked to participate in this survey by their class instructor. ( ) Notice! This message contained in the stimulus materials was manipulated for this study. Thank you for y our participation!

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85 APPENDIX C UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA INSTITUTIONAL REVI EW BOARD INFORMED CONSENT APPROVAL Protocol Submission Form UFIRB 02 Social & Behavioral Research Protocol Submission Form This form must be typed. Send this form and the supporti ng documents to IRB02, PO Box 112250, Gainesville, FL 32611. Should you have questions about completing this form, call 352392 0433. Title of Protocol: The effects of organizational ethics on responsibility, reputation, and behavioral intention in cri sis management. Principal Investigator: J in Hong Ha UFID #: 01852967 Degree / Title: M.A. / M A. student Mailing Address: ( If on campus include PO Box address): PO Box 118400, Gainesville FL 32611 Email: Jinhong.ha @ufl.edu Department: Public Relat ions Telephone #: 3526827692 Co Investigator(s): Email: Supervisor (If PI is student) : Mary Ann Ferguson Ph. D. UFID#: Degree / Title: Ph.D./Professor Mailing Address: ( If on campus include PO Box address): PO Box 118400, Gainesville FL 3 2611 Email : maferguson @jou.ufl.edu Department: Public Relations Telephone #: 3523926660 Date of Proposed Research: 12/20/2009 ~ 8/31/2010 Source of Funding (A copy of the grant proposal must be submitted with this protocol if funding is invol ved): Scientific Purpose of the Study: This study concentrates on the role of organizational ethics in crisis management. The purpose of this s tudy is to find how peoples perceptions differ in terms of organizations ethical performances when the org anization faces a crisis event.

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86 Describe the Research Methodology in Non Technical Language: ( Explain what will be done with or to the research participant. ) Web based experimental research will be used to examine how the level of organizational ethic s is associated with crisis responsibility, organizational reputation, and behavioral intention. The experimental design includes the manipulation of three factors: 1) crisis type (rumor vs. transgression), 2) response strategy (denial vs. mortification), and 3) organizational ethics (high vs. low). Describe Potential Benefits: Students participated in the experiment may receive extra credit points (based on instructors decision). Describe Potential Risks: ( If risk of physical, psychological or economic harm may be involved, describe the steps taken to protect participant.) The project should not create any physical, psychological or economic risks. Most of the scales used in the questionnaire are routinely used by communication scholars in their survey research. Further, the researchers cannot track down the participants identity in any way Describe How Participant(s) Will Be Recruited: Participants will be volunteers who are involved in academic education. Maximum Number of Participants (to be appr oached with consent) 200 Age Range of Participants: 18 and older Amount of Compensation/ course credit: Depending on instructors decision Describe the Informed Consent Process. (Attach a Copy of the Informed Consent Document. See http://irb.ufl.edu/irb02/samples.html for examples of consent.) (SIGNATURE SECTION) Principal Investigator(s) Signature: Date: Co Investigator(s) Signature(s): Date: Supervisors Signature (if PI is a student): Date: Department Chair Signature: Date:

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87 Statement of Informed Consent Protocol Title : The effects of organizational ethics on responsibility, reputation, and behavioral intention in crisis management. Please read this consent document before you decide to participate in this study. Purpose of this study : The purpose of this study is to find how peoples perceptions differ in terms of organizations ethical performances when the organization faces a crisis event. What you will be asked to do in the study : You will be asked to answer the questions about the perceptions toward the organization that faces a crisis event. Time required: 15 minutes Risks and Benefits : There are no anticipated risks and no direct benefits to you as a participant in this study other than extra course credit Compensation : extra credit depending on instructors decision. If you choose not to participate in this survey, you will be given a time/effort equivalent academic extra credit opportunity. Confidentiality and Voluntary p articipation: Please read each question carefully and respond to the questions as thoughtfully and candidly as you can. Your participation in this study is completely voluntary. Your identity will be confidential to the extent provided by law. You must be at least 18 years old to participate in the study. There is no penalty for not participating. You do not have to answer any question(s) you do not want to answer. Voluntary participation: Your participation in this study is completely voluntary. There is no penalty for not participating. Right to withdraw from the study : You have the right to withdraw from the study at anytime without consequence. Whom to contact if you have questions about the study: Jin Hong Ha Master student, Weimer Hall, College of J ournalism and Mass Communications, E mail: jinhong.ha@ufl.edu Dr. Mary Ann Ferguson, the supervisor at E mail: maferguson @jou.ufl.edu Whom to contact about your rights as a research participant in the study: UFIRB Office, Box 112250, University of Flori da, Gainesville, FL 326112250, 3920433.

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88 Agreement: I have read the procedure described above. I voluntarily agree to participate in the procedure and I have received a copy of this description. Participants Name (Please print):_______________________________________ Participants Signature: ___________________ Date ____________________ Principal Investigators Signature __________________ Date ____________________ Approved by University of Florida Institutional Review Board 02 Pr otocol # 2009U 1276 For Use Through 12/ 15/2010

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89 LIST OF REFERENCES Ajzen, I. (1991). The theory of planned behavior. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 50 179211. Allen, M. W., & Caillouet, R. H. (1994). Legitimation endeavors: Impres sion management starategies used by an organization in crisis. Communication Monographs, 61, 4462. Anand, V., & Rosen C. C. (2008). The e thics of organizational s ecrets. Journal of Management Inquiry 17(2). 97101. Baker, G. F. (2001). Race and reputa tion: Restoring image beyond the crisis. In R. L. Heath (Eds.), Handbook of Public Relations (pp. 155165). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publication Inc. Baker, S., & Martinson, D. (2001). The TARES test: Five principles for ethical persuasion. Journal of Mass Media Ethics, 6, 148175. Barnett, R. C., & Hyde, J. S. (2001). Women, men, work, and family: An expansionist theory. American Psychologist, 56, 781796. Balzer, W. K., & Sulsky, L. M. (1992). Halo and performance appraisal research: A critical examinat ion. Journal of Applied Psychology, 77, 975985. Bendixen, M., & Abratt, R. (2007). Corporate identity, ethics and reputation in supplier buyer relationship. Journal of Business Ethics, 76, 6982. Benoit, W. L. (1995). Accounts, excuses, and apologies: A theory of image restoration. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press. (2000). Another visit to the theory of image restoration strategies. Communication Quarterly, 48, 4043. (2004). Image restoration discourse and crisis com munication. In D. P. Miller & R. L. Heath (Eds.), Responding to crisis: A rhetorical approach to crisis communication (pp. 263280). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum. Benoit, W. L., Pang, A. (2008). Crisis communication and image repair discourse. In T. L. Ha nsen Horn & B. D. Neff (Ed.), Public Relations from Theory to Practice (pp. 244261). Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.

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91 (2008). The development of the situational crisis communication theory. In T. L. H ansen Horn & B. D. Neff (Ed.), Public Relations from Theory to Practice (pp. 262277). Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc. Coombs, W. T., & Holladay, S. J. (1996). Communication and attributions in a crisis: An experimental study of crisis communication. Journal of Public Relations Research, 8(4), 279295. (2001). An extended examination of the crisis situation: A fusion of the relational management and symbolic approaches. Journal of Public Relations Research, 13, 321340. (2002). Helping crisis managers protect reputational assets: Initial tests of the situational crisis communication theory. Management Communication Quarterly, 16, 165186. (2004). Matching crisis response strategies to crisis situations: An attribution theory based approach to crisis management. In D. P. Millar & R. L. Heath (Eds.), Responding to crisis: A rhetorical approach of crisis communication (pp. 95115). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. (2008). Comparing apology to equivalent crisis response strategies: Clarifying apologys role and value in crisis communication. Public Relations Review, 34, 252257. Coombs, W. T., & Schmidt, L. (2000). An empirical analysis of image restoration: Texacos racism crisis. Journal of Public Relations Research, 12(2), 163178. Cory, J. (2005). Activist Business Ethics Boston, MA: Springer. David, M. (2006). B eyond the statement of economics versus ethics: Corporate social responsibility and the discourse of the organizational self. Jour nal of Business Ethics, 66(4), 337356. Davis, M. (2002). Profession, code, and ethics. Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing. Darley, J. M., & Gross, P. H. (1983). A hypothesis confirming bias in labeling effects. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 44, 2033. Druckenmiller, B. (1993). Crises provide insight on image, Business Marketing, 78, 40.

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93 Hwang, S., & Cameron, G. T. (2009). The estim ation of a corporate crisis communication. Public Relations Review, 35, 136138. Jin, Y., & Cameron, G. T. (2007). The effects of threat type and duration on public relations practitioners cognitive, affective, and conative responses in crisis situations Journal of Public Relations Research, 19(3), 255281. Kelly, H. H. (1973). The process of causal attribution. American Psychologist, 28, 107128. Kim, H., & Yang, S. (2009). Cognitive processing of crisis communication: Effects of CSR and crisis respon se strategies on stakeholder perceptions of a racial crisis dynamism. Public Relations Journal, 3(1), 1 39. Kim, J., Kim, H., & Cameron, G. T. (2009). Making nice may not matter: The interplay of crisis type, response type, and crisis issue on perceived organizational responsibility. Public Relations Review, 35, 86 88. Kohlberg, L. (1981). The philosophy of moral development: Moral stages and the idea of justice Cambridge, MA: Harper & Row. Kohlberg, L. (1984). The psychology of moral development: The nature and validity of moral stages San Francisco: Harper & Row. Lee, B. K. (2005). Hong Kong consumers evaluation in an airline crash: A path model analysis. Journal of Public Relations Research, 17(4), 363391. Lewis, S. (2001). Measuring c orporate r eputation. Corporate Communi cations: An International Journal 6( 1), 3135. Lyon, L., & Cameron, G. T. (2004). A relational approach examining the interplay of prior reputation and immediate response to a crisis. Journal of Public Relations Research, 16(3), 213241. Logsdon, J. M., & Wood, D. J. (2002). Reputation as an e merging c onstruct in the business and s ociety f ield: An Introduction. Business and Society, 41(4), 365370. Mahon, J., & Wartick, S. (2003). Dealing with s takeholders: How reputation, c re dibility and f raming i nfluence the g ame. Corporate Reputation Review 6(1), 1935.

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96 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Jinhong Ha received his Master of Arts in Journalism and Mass Communication at Yonsei University in South Korea and got his B achelor of Art s in Journalism and Mass Communication at Hanyang University in South Korea. Before coming to the University of Florida as a m asters student he worked for a public relations/advertising agency, particularly in account management. He has seven years of full time professional experience as a campaign planner for various clients, which developed organizational communication strategies for public relations and advertising campaigns, crisis management, and corporate ethics. These work experiences motivated him to continue studying public relations communication with an emphasis on crisis management, business ethics, PR roles/leaderships, and health communication. During his graduate studies at the University of Florida, he has won two Top Student Paper Awards from the 12th Annual International Public Relations Research Conference and from the 80th Annual Convention of the Southern States Communication Association. After completing his m aster s degree in Mass Communication, he plans to begin doctoral studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.