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Organisational crisis communication in Botswana: Investigating the crisis response strategies and the role of social media / Chedza Simon

Swansea University Author: Chedza Simon

DOI (Published version): 10.23889/SUthesis.62812

Abstract

Post-millennial crises in the digital age have become more challenging and difficult for unprepared organisations and public relations (PR) practitioners to manage. As such, organisations in Botswana, including global conglomerates with operations in Sub-Saharan Africa, have not been spared from the...

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Published: Swansea 2023
Institution: Swansea University
Degree level: Doctoral
Degree name: Ph.D
Supervisor: Rees, Sian F. ; Thomas, Richard H.
URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa62812
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Abstract: Post-millennial crises in the digital age have become more challenging and difficult for unprepared organisations and public relations (PR) practitioners to manage. As such, organisations in Botswana, including global conglomerates with operations in Sub-Saharan Africa, have not been spared from these emergencies. With social media such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Youtube and Pinterest, to mention a few, spreading crisis information at lightning speed, organisational crises can become global and multicultural in nature, further threatening the organisation’s reputation. To manage such complex exigencies, PR practitioners must understand the factors influencing the types of their crisis messages and how to use Facebook to persuade their audience. Currently, the lack of crisis communication research in Botswana to guide practitioners on appropriate response strategies and how language is used on Facebook to persuade audiences has attracted academic interest. Botswana’s crisis communication ecosystem is still new and there is need for adjustments for PR practitioners to scale up to international standards. As such, this study investigates crisis communication in Botswana using the case studies of the Botswana Development Corporation (BDC) Fengyue Glass Manufacturing Project crisis of 2011, and the Botswana Railways (BR) passenger train derailment crisis of 2019. This research conducted a detailed content analysis of Facebook posts and identified themes and categories of how these organisations and their audiences communicated during these emergencies. To complement this quantitative data, selected Facebook posts were subjected to critical discourse analysis to establish how PR practitioners used language to dominate and persuade their audiences. Further explanations on how and why practitioners respond the way they do on Facebook were developed from semi-structured interviews with senior PR practitioners in Botswana. The study finds that crisis communication in Botswana is distinctive due to cultural factors. This thesis has developed a crisis information flow and relationship model (the Cross Cloverleaf Relationship Matrix) between Facebook and Botswana’s cultural offline communication platform, the kgotla system. The model helps to facilitate Facebook in a non-western setting where it is culturally resisted for its liberalism and promotion of Western values. Additionally, this thesis confirms Coombs (2006)’s cluster of crisis response strategies as valid and robust for non-western contexts, provided the corrective strategy is introduced as a cluster to accompany them.
Item Description: ORCiD identifier: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4479-1150
Keywords: Crisis communication in Botswana, social media, Botswana Development Corporation Fengyue glass project, Botswana Railways train derailment
College: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences