Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Mass Communications

Major Professor

Kelly Werder, Ph.D.


Crisis communication, Crisis types, Attribution theory, Organization-public relationship, Situational crisis communication theory


This study investigates the influence of different crisis response strategies and relationship history on corporate credibility and the dimensions of the organizational-public relationship. The relationship dimensions examined were trust, commitment, satisfaction and control mutuality. An experiment was conducted among undergraduate students drawn from an introductory mass communication class. Results indicate that when an organization's relationship history with its publics is positive, the public is more likely to view the post-crisis relationship quality and organizational credibility as positive than negative. Additionally, more accommodative crisis response strategies have a greater impact on relationship quality than less accommodative strategies. Crisis response strategy does not have an effect on corporate credibility. The results emphasize the importance of relationship building before crises and of assessing previous relationship history when matching response strategies to crises.