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Doctoral Candidate Jo Robertson Defends Doctoral Research

On December 1, 2006, Doctoral candidate Jo Robertson Defended her doctoral research on “Apology as a Business Decision: an Initial Examination of Accepted Best Practice in Crisis Communications.”

Jo’s research indicated that if an organization in crisis proactively releases any additional information that could prove damaging, rather than waiting for if/when the media uncovers it, this will shorten the news cycle of the story and could lessen the overall reputational damage. The research assessed whether releasing all damaging information proactively would shorten negative press attention regarding a crisis. (The answer appears is “yes.”)

The research also assessed whether news coverage following an apology was less damaging than pre-apology media attention, indicating that apologizing lessens the newsworthiness of the crisis, thereby reducing the amount of continued negative media attention and encouraging a quicker recovery. Because a decrease in negative media attention can lessen the subsequent reputational damage, it is possible that offering an apology could be a more effective business strategy than waiting for a court to determine an appropriate penalty.




Jonathan P. Deason, Ph.D., Lead Professor

The George Washington University
Engineering Management & Systems Engineering Department (EMSE)
Environmental & Energy Management Program (E&EM)
Fall 2006 (Volume 7, Number 2)