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Title: Crisis communication response strategies for food scares
Author: Carroll, Conor James
ISNI:       0000 0004 2705 9889
Awarding Body: University of Liverpool
Current Institution: University of Liverpool
Date of Award: 2010
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Drawing on the theoretical framework of crisis communications, risk communications, and food choice literatures, this study explores the dynamics of food scare crises within an Irish context. The consumer reactions following these risk events present an opportunity to examine risk information processing within consumer behaviour. Utilising a realist research position, initial focus group research was conducted, which drove the main phase of the research, which consisted of in-depth consumer interviews. All of these interviews were transcribed and analysed using qualitative research software. Through this extensive exploratory research several key findings emerged which advance our understanding of crises and food scares. Risk profiles of Irish consumers were identified from their beliefs surrounding food category risk. Furthermore, an extensive risk information processing framework was identified, incorporating risk profiles, determinants of risk, and behavioural consequences. Food scares exhibited wave-like characteristics in which risk is amplified through an amalgam of factors, and then subsided to a natural state of equilibrium. The intensity of perceived risk is temporally linked, in that the level of perceived risk reaches its zenith in the immediate aftermath of public risk disclosure, which is intensified through greater media scrutiny and social discourse surrounding the food risk. Subsequently the level of perceived risk subsides amongst certain consumer populations due to lack of media and social discourse on the risk issue. In addition, key consumer expectations of crisis communication responses were identified, in terms of the form and content of the response. Moreover, the evidence indicated that exposure to past food crises created inoculation effects. Consumers perceived that industry stakeholders invoke proactive preventative measures to eliminate the potential for risk reoccurrence, by enhancing their safety systems, thereby reducing future risk potential. A key conclusion of the research is that organisations need to hetter understand the dynamics of food scares, so as to develop effective crisis communication responses, and long-term effective risk communications. As consumers are deluged with risk messages on a consistent basis, particularly concerning food consumption, organisations need a greater insight into how risk information processing occurs. The findings of the research help broaden our understanding of food scares, and have implications for the management of crisis events within other industries. They provide a critical insight into how these events are perceived, which have implications for marketing and management. Moreover it demonstrates that there are indeed opportunities from crises, to improve safety protocols to prevent reoccurrence, and to solidify bonds of trust with the consumer, through ongoing communications dialogue.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available