Exploring the concept and application of crisis-induced uncertainty in organizational crises

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University of Alabama Libraries

This dissertation was designed to investigate stakeholders’ feelings of uncertainty during an organizational crisis and how such feelings influence stakeholders’ relationship with the organization and change their information-seeking behaviors. Through reviewing current theories about uncertainty in risk communication and interpersonal communication, this dissertation created a term, crisis-induced uncertainty, and conceptualized the construct. The researcher designed two studies to measure and test the construct separately. Study 1 aimed to develop a multidimensional scale to capture crisis-induced uncertainty. Two samples were collected to validate the scale (n1 = 341; n2 = 294). Through the comprehensive assessment of content validity, construct validity, discriminant validity, convergent validity, and reliability, this study yielded a three-dimension scale with 11 measurement items. Crisis-induced uncertainty contained three dimensions: protection uncertainty, process uncertainty, and relationship uncertainty. Using a survey (n3 = 324), Study 2 attempted to discover the relationship between crisis-induced uncertainty and organization-public relationships, and the relationship between crisis-induced uncertainty and information-seeking behaviors. The survey revealed that crisis-induced uncertainty significantly predicts satisfaction, trust, and commitment. It also indicated that crisis-induced uncertainty does not change people’s information-seeking behaviors during a crisis. This dissertation greatly contributes to the understanding of uncertainty during a crisis and paves the way for future uncertainty research in the crisis context.

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Mass communication