A Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence led by the University of Maryland

Managing Chaos through Crisis Communication Leadership


Managing Chaos through Crisis Communication Leadership

Investigators: 

Project Details

Abstract: 

Crisis leadership is fundamental to preventing, preparing for, managing, and learning from crises. Leaders are responsible for and expected to minimize the impact of crises, enhance crisis management capacity and coordinate crisis management efforts. Crisis leadership is in essence a communicative process, in which individuals verbalize and make sense of contingencies and objectives, establish a common purpose, and take action. Crisis leadership is a research area that is currently underdeveloped with limited academic studies.

This project improves governments’ crisis leadership capabilities by determining the attributes of effective crisis communication leadership. The project includes: a comprehensive literature review; interviews with federal, state, local, and/or other crisis leaders regarding their experiences and reflections relevant to crisis leadership; and a mini case study of crisis communication leadership. 

Existing research demonstrates the importance of early recognition of warning signs and sensemaking, a leader’s presence, ethical decision-making, relationships with followers and stakeholders, creating a meaningful narrative, and learning from a crisis to enhance resilience as key factors in effective crisis leadership. A large body of scholarship also identifies leadership styles, which may apply to crisis leadership. As current crisis response theories focus more on reputation repair than leadership, there is an opportunity to contribute a new theory of crisis response leadership, which in turn can inform practice.

Methodology: 

The project includes: a comprehensive literature review; interviews with federal, state, local, and/or other crisis leaders regarding their experiences and reflections relevant to crisis leadership; and a mini case study of crisis communication leadership.

Timeframe

Project Period: 
June 2017 to May 2018