A study of the employment of denial during a complex and unstable crisis involving multiple actors

Matt A Bamber, Simon Parry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

Abstract

We review the employment of denial through a complex and unstable crisis: the Deepwater Horizon Gulf of Mexico tragedy. We analysed the inter-play of responses from multiple actors during the same crisis period – BP, Transocean, Halliburton and the media. Our analysis showed that when it was possible to deny, management did so, and promptly. We found that the corporate actors’ denials became more aggressive over time. The aim of BP’s response strategy appeared to be centred around an appeasement of the public and media to minimise the damage to reputational assets. However their responses were not made in a political, economic or legal vacuum. Underpinning everything else, it is most likely that BP sought to spread the blame in an attempt to limit the ultimate litigation costs. We argue that the secondary actors employed denial for similar reasons but also because this strategy allowed them to take the offensive, avert stigmatisation and to generate internal savings.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Business Communication
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Bibliographical note

Though this paper is currently stood as revise and resubmit at JoBC, I provide absolutely no guarantees that this is where it will be published

Keywords

  • Crisis Communication; Denial; Press Releases

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