The Quest for Transparency and Accountability: Communicating Responsibly to Stakeholders in Crises

  •  Donyale R. Griffin Padgett    
  •  Shuhui Sophy Cheng    
  •  Vinita Parekh    


As organizations around the world experience crises, they are finding it necessary to craft messages that speak to a more global audience in order to renegotiate social legitimacy by demonstrating ethical leadership in a more global environment. This paper aims at investigating two crisis cases across international borders, including BP’s (formerly British Petroleum) massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and Indian-based Satyam Computer Services’ near-collapse as a result of corporate fraud. In both cases, crisis response demonstrated a lack of sensitivity to stakeholders, a lack of transparency, and a lack of strategic communication. In this study, we examine the crisis response of company officials in the aftermath of events that had both national and global effects. From the analysis, three general themes emerge: 1) issues of blame and accountability, 2) issue of transparency, and 3) success or failure in crisis response. The cases point to the need for organizational leaders to establish a clear line of communication with stakeholders, so they are better equipped to move beyond the crisis situation. Findings demonstrate that the more we know about how companies translate their role as corporate citizens, particularly in the face of crises, the better we are to determine standards for practice that help to rebuild image and restore legitimacy.

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