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Crisis Communication as Institutional Maintenance

Journal article
Authors Magnus Fredriksson
Published in Public Relations Inquiry
Volume 3
Issue 3
Pages 319-340
ISSN 2046-147X
Publication year 2014
Published at Department of Journalism, Media and Communication (JMG)
Pages 319-340
Language en
Keywords Crisis communication, financial crisis, governmental agencies, institutional work, neo-institutional theory, Sweden
Subject categories Public Administration Studies, Media and Communications


The aim of the article is to extend our understandings of crisis communication by examining the dynamics of its practice and how it is performed by organizations when mobilized by institutional disruptions. In the article, I analyze how three governmental agencies in Sweden – responsible for the governance of the financial markets – responded to the global financial crisis and how they communicate to maintain the financial markets as institutions. The study takes its point of departure in neo-institutional theory and the framework of institutional work and shows how the financial crisis calls forth activities of skillful and intentional use of communication for the maintenance of rules, norms and practices governing the financial markets by the use of three strategies, providing, policing and routinizing. Thus, crisis communication, I argue, can be understood as a form of institutional work aiming for the maintenance of an institution at the same time as it has to be adapted to the very same conditions where the interests of individual organizations are subordinated to collective interests and social structures.

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