Library Dissertation Showcase

Crisis communication in the third sector: a study of Oxfam’s 2018 and 2021 crises

  • Year of Publication:
  • 2022

Purpose: This study analyses how Oxfam responded to its 2018 and 2021 scandals using the SCCT and SMCC theories as the benchmark. It seeks to understand the impact of response strategies, prior crisis history, pre-crisis planning, and environmental scanning on crisis intensity in the third sector. This paper also examines the peculiarities of aid organisations and how their structures influence crisis communication in the sector.

Design, methodology, and approach: Thematic analysis was employed to analyse latent themes in the crisis responses provided by Oxfam on its website, Facebook page, and traditional media during both crises.

Findings: The analysis shows that third-sector organisations need to engage in environmental scanning and constantly evaluate their past actions in light of new events to forestall a crisis. Third-sector organisations need to invest in crisis preparation and planning and train leaders in crisis communication to minimise crisis intensity.

Research limitations/implications: only one third-sector organisation was examined in a single geographical location using a case study method. More empirical research on different third-sector organisations and locations is suggested.

Practical implications: This study includes implications for examining third-sector organisations engaged in crisis communication and planning. It offers recommendations on how organisations in the sector can minimise the crisis impact.

Social implications: This paper highlights the need for third-sector organisations to actively engage in environmental scanning, signal detection, and an ongoing crisis communication plan. Being situationally aware and engaging in proper planning will enable organisations to steal the thunder and be the information source, thus minimising the intensity of crises.

Originality/value: This paper demonstrates the effects of effective signal detection, crisis response strategies, and prior organisational crisis history on crisis intensity in third-sector organisations.

Keywords: Crisis communication, crisis response strategies, third-sector organisations, environmental scanning, Oxfam.

Dissertation type: A case study.

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