University of Jyväskylä

Dissertation: 29.9.2017: Crisis communication related to terrorism requires preparedness and creativity (Ruggiero)

Start date: Sep 29, 2017 12:00 PM

End date: Sep 29, 2017 03:00 PM

Location: Seminaarinmäki, H320

M.A. Aino Ruggiero defends her doctoral dissertation in Organizational Communication & Public Relations "Crisis communication and terrorism: Mapping challenges and co-creating solutions”. Opponent Professor Jesper Falkheimer (Lund University, Sweden) and custos Professor Marita Vos (University of Jyväskylä). The doctoral dissertation is held in English.

Terrorism is a globally connected, uncontrollable, transboundary risk that continually evolves and changes forms, resulting in multiple complexities that affect the lives of both citizens and organisations across the globe. These risks involve a high level of complexity when they materialise as crises, and the use of CBRN (chemical biological, radiological or nuclear) materials presents the possibility of a worst-case scenario. Crisis communication in such cases would not only be essential but also a matter of life and death.

Hence, the purpose of this research was to better understand and de-scribe the challenges of communication in CBRN terrorism crises as well as how these challenges can be addressed by the communication supporting crisis management of public authorities. Empirical research was conducted for this thesis, and this thesis shell provides a synthesis of the empirical findings and the theoretical insights obtained from the crisis communication literature.

This thesis is comprised of five sub-studies reported in five original articles. The research is based on a qualitative research approach grounded in a social constructionist ontology and an interpretive epistemology. The data of this research were generated through literature reviews, a qualitative online questionnaire and a table top discussion, and it was mostly thematically analysed. The central findings of this research, combined with theoretical insights obtained from the literature, were synthesised and illustrated in a model, which depicts complexities and ways to cope with them using an integrated approach to crisis communication for CBRN terrorism.

From a practice perspective, the findings of this thesis can promote professional resilience in the field by introducing approaches and methods communication professionals can use to cope with the most complex types of crises. From a theoretical perspective, by reviewing and synthesising insights from the scientific literature on the topic of crisis communication when CBRN terrorism is involved, this thesis provides a broad understanding of the dimensions and boundaries of this multi-disciplinary area of research and clarifies the specific aspects, elements and insights involved.

Keywords: crisis communication, terrorism, CBRN, process approach, social media monitoring, communication strategy making, sensemaking

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Aino Ruggiero