Consistent questions of ambiguity in organizational crisis communication: Jack in the box as a case study [Book Review]

Journal of Business Ethics 25 (2):143 - 155 (2000)
The complexity of crisis situations allows for corporate responses to create multiple interpretations for organizational stakeholders concerning crisis evidence, the organization's intentions, and the locus of responsibility. Hence, organizations have the ability to emphasize an interpretation where the organization is viewed most favorably. Using Jack in the Box as a case study, we apply stakeholder theory to ascertain the ethical implications of employing strategic ambiguity in organizational crisis communication. We conclude that the crisis response provided by Jack in the Box's leaders was ethically questionable in the areas of evidence, intent, and locus because the ambiguity they introduced privileged their financial stakeholders over others. Ultimately, this strategic use of ambiguity diminished the deliberative ability of Jack in the Box's publics.
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