Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Eric Eisenberg, Ph.D.

Committee Member

David Payne, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jane Jorgenson, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Cynthia Cohen, Ph.D.


airlines, Karl Weick, rhetoric, close textual analysis, Leo Mullin, Don Carty, 9/11, Jeff Potter, American Airlines, Frontier Airlines, Delta Airlines, Kenneth Burke, Michael Leff, Andrew Giddens


The terrorist attacks of 9/11 created a crisis of epic proportions for the airline industry. The attacks, on the heels of the first financial losses in four years, threatened the existence of many airlines. It was incumbent on the CEO to make sense and offer a plan to control the crisis and move forward. There were fewer audiences more attentive to this senemaking activity than the stockholders. On the cusp of the organization, shareholder management is a central job of CEOs in the 21st century. This study focuses on CEO presentations to shareholders for American, Delta and Frontier Airlines before during and after the events of 9/11. Using Close Textual Analysis as configured by Michael Leff, the time focused rhetorical analysis is extended to include slices of time. How CEOs use experienced time and interpreted time to gain stockholder confidence, control the crisis and create a shared vision of the future is the goal of this project. A longitudinal study across the years of 2001-2003, this dissertation considers how the organizational, leadership and personal goals of each of these airlines and their leaders are met through rhetorical configurations of time.