Contingency Theory and Public Emotions in Crisis Communication –A Conceptual Study


  • Rainy Rose School of Communications, XIM University, Plot no: 12(A), 3rd Floor, XIM University, Bhubaneswar, New Campus, Nijigada Kurki, Harirajpur- 752050, Odisha, India
  • V. Vijay Kumar School of Communications, XIM University, Plot no: 12(A), 3rd Floor, XIM University, Bhubaneswar, New Campus, Nijigada Kurki, Harirajpur- 752050, Odisha, India
  • Lalatendu Kesari Jena School of Human Resource Management, XIM University, Plot no: 12(A), XIM University, Bhubaneswar, New Campus, Nijigada Kurki, Harirajpur- 752050, Odisha, India



contingency theory, crisis communication, conflict management, emotions, cognitive appraisal, coping


Aim. Problems are inevitable in the subtleties of organizational communication, but it does not mean confronting them is uncontrollable. This paper aims to offer a conceptual structure for investigating contingency theory in Public Relations (PR) during an organizational crisis. The research investigates PR practitioners’ use of advocacy and accommodation in contingency theory to intervene in crisis communication. It also offers insights into the public’s emotional response and coping mechanisms during a crisis, as well as how understanding these emotions (such as anger, anxiety, fear, and grief, among others) could aid PR professionals in developing more effective crisis communication methods.

Method. Empirical research was conducted on the basis of literature reviews by observing and analyzing the existing literature on contingency theory, crisis communication in organizations, and public emotions.

Results. This conceptual paper proposes and empirically tests a few propositions. The implications for future studies are included in the paper. Findings promote the adopting a dual-continuum strategy that might assist public relations professionals in preferring superior crisis management strategies for obtaining desired organizational outcomes.

Conclusion. The authors assert that PR professionals must move from embracing Grunig’s four models of excellence to contingency theory for communicating strategically with the public. The authors propose to adopt a dual-continuum approach that varies from advocacy to accommodation and might provide practical guidance to choose a better stance adopted by the organization towards the public during a crisis. The negative emotions of the public influenced by a crisis along with their emotional coping approaches are also discussed.


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Author Biographies

  • Rainy Rose, School of Communications, XIM University, Plot no: 12(A), 3rd Floor, XIM University, Bhubaneswar, New Campus, Nijigada Kurki, Harirajpur- 752050, Odisha, India

    Rainy Rose is an Assistant Professor, at NMIMS, Mumbai, India, and a Doctoral Scholar (Ph.D.) in the School of Communications, XIM University, Bhubaneswar, Odisha, India. Her research area focuses on Public Relations evaluation. Her research interests focus on business communication, crisis communication, communication management, public relations, social media, and strategic communication. Prior to her academic pursuits, she gained valuable experience as a seasoned media professional working with a reputed media channel, Zee News for a couple of years. She has also been actively involved in teaching, having taught at institutions such as the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT), Bhubaneswar, and XIM University, Bhubaneswar, India.

  • V. Vijay Kumar, School of Communications, XIM University, Plot no: 12(A), 3rd Floor, XIM University, Bhubaneswar, New Campus, Nijigada Kurki, Harirajpur- 752050, Odisha, India

    V. Vijay Kumar, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor and Dean of the School of Communications, XIM University, Bhubaneswar, India. He has a blend of more than two decades of industry and academic experience as his strengths, he is a seasoned mass communication professional and a media educator, with one and half decades of industrial experience in audio-visual content development, supervision, and management. Right from television reality shows to non-fiction live broadcasts, from television commercials to feature films, he worked on various projects in different capacities. He worked with Sun TV Network, Chennai; Shop CJ TV Network, Mumbai; Frames Entertainment, Chennai, India, in senior roles and he worked as a creative head and show director of an award-winning Tamil reality talent hunt show ‘Naalaya Iyakunar’ (Future Director) and South India’s first reality television show for identical twins ‘Iruvar’ (Twins). He has completed his PhD at Anna University, Chennai, India. His doctoral research is on the topic ‘Interactive Reality Television’. He specializes in audio-visual content development, entertainment television programmes, digital filmmaking, and educational media design. His research interests are television programming, television studies, film studies, social media, interactive digital communication, positive psychology, public relations, and educational media. Apart from teaching, he is actively involved in audio-visual content development in the forms of documentaries, music videos, television shows, short films, and educational video modules in the capacity of executive producer, head of creatives and production.

  • Lalatendu Kesari Jena, School of Human Resource Management, XIM University, Plot no: 12(A), XIM University, Bhubaneswar, New Campus, Nijigada Kurki, Harirajpur- 752050, Odisha, India

    Lalatendu Kesari Jena is an Associate Professor (Human resource) in School of Human Resource Management, XIM University, Bhubaneswar, India. He has more than 21 years of experience in both academics and corporate HR (with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, Indian Defence PSU), including seven years as Faculty Member in HR at ICFAI University, Hyderabad, India and Central University of Orissa, India. He specializes in the areas of human resource planning, performance management, learning and development, and talent assessment. His research interest lies in areas such as HRM and Sustainable Development Goals ; Self-steering, self-Organizing Teams and Leadership ; Job Crafting; Job Insecurity ; Millennial's and work ethics ; Return on Investment in HR Programs ; Sustainable HR through Disruptive Leadership ; Attitude and Productivity ; Joy at Work ; Workplace Persuasion ; Employee Retention and Leadership Challenges ; Abusive Supervision ; Performance in Multi-tasking Environment ; Stress and Coping ; Meaningful Engagement and he has published papers on them in tiered national and international journals.  He has completed his Ph.D. from IIT Kharagpur, India (#=314 in QS Global World University Rankings 2023), on the topic “Workplace Spirituality and Human Resource Effectiveness” and is pursuing Post Doc. on "Employee Retention and Leadership Challenges" at Loyola Leadership School, Universidad Loyola, Seville, Spain (ranked #581-590 in QS Global World University Rankings 2023). A passionate trainer, Prof. L K has conducted several corporate training sessions and leadership workshops for organizations across diverse industries.


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How to Cite

Rose, R., V. Vijay Kumar, & Kesari Jena, L. (2023). Contingency Theory and Public Emotions in Crisis Communication –A Conceptual Study. Journal of Education Culture and Society, 14(2), 30-48.