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The social construction of crisis in higher education:

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TitleInfo
Title
The social construction of crisis in higher education:
SubTitle
implications for crisis leadership theory and practice
Name (type = personal)
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Gigliotti
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Ralph A.
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Ralph A. Gigliotti
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author
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Ruben
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Brent D
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Brent D Ruben
Affiliation
Advisory Committee
Role
RoleTerm (authority = RULIB)
chair
Name (type = corporate)
NamePart
Rutgers University
Role
RoleTerm (authority = RULIB)
degree grantor
Name (type = corporate)
NamePart
Graduate School - New Brunswick
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school
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Text
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theses
OriginInfo
DateCreated (qualifier = exact)
2017
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2017-05
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2017
Place
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xx
Language
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eng
Abstract (type = abstract)
This dissertation explored the nature of crisis in higher education—a context where conflicts of various kinds across a diverse array of stakeholders are common, and where their occurrence often challenge core institutional values. Much of the crisis management and crisis prevention literature focus primarily on the public relations aspect of crisis—how to protect the reputation of the institution, maintain a favorable impression in the eyes of many stakeholders, and use communication to shape public opinion. Unlike existing studies that characterize communication as a tool for managing specific components of crisis situations after they emerge, this project placed a broadened emphasis on the role of communication in the ongoing work of crisis leadership. Additionally, unlike traditional studies that treat crisis as an objective phenomenon, this project considered the ways that crises are created through communication. Rather than take the idea of “crisis in higher education” as a given, the researcher analyzed the use of this label and advanced a more holistic and comprehensive portrayal of crisis leadership—a phenomenon that involves, but extends beyond, reputation management. The following four research questions guided this project: 1) What events/situations are characterized as crises in higher education? 2) How do these events/situations become defined and labeled as crises? 3) What are the prominent characteristics of the discourse around crisis and crisis leadership in higher education? 4) What skills, values, and competencies are important for the work of crisis leaders in higher education? The author investigated these central questions through the use of two research methods. In response to the first question, the author first conducted a content analysis of higher education news outlets, including Inside Higher Ed and the Chronicle of Higher Education, and a smaller sample of articles from The New York Times and Wall Street Journal from the past five years (2011-2015). The second phase of the project, in response to the remaining questions, involved semi-structured interviews with 37 senior university leaders representing a diversity of units from Association of American University (AAU) member institutions. The multi-method investigation of this topic led to a number of findings. First, there exist a myriad of different types of incidents or situations that are typically classified as “crises” in higher education—crises that are cross-cutting in nature—based on the following taxonomy: academic, athletics, technological, facilities, financial/business, human resources, leadership/ governance, natural disaster, public safety, racial or identity conflict, and student affairs. Next, the senior leaders interviewed for this project addressed three central findings related to the process of defining and labeling phenomena as crises: there are multiple, and at times conflicting, definitions of crisis, crises are distinct from other types of events or situations, and many factors contribute to the elevation of an incident to the level of crisis, most notably the use of social media. The third set of findings capture the communicative construction of crisis in higher education. Specifically, crises are said to exist if other perceive them to exist, crises may be called into existence based on the framing of events or situations by leaders, and crisis often becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy based on one’s decision to designate an event or series of events as a crisis. Finally, there are many core skills, values, and competencies associated with the practice of crisis leadership in higher education that may be cultivated through formal training and development efforts.
Subject (authority = RUETD)
Topic
Communication, Information and Library Studies
Subject (authority = ETD-LCSH)
Topic
Educational leadership
Subject (authority = ETD-LCSH)
Topic
College administrators
Subject (authority = ETD-LCSH)
Topic
Crisis management
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Rutgers University Electronic Theses and Dissertations
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ETD_7895
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electronic resource
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application/pdf
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text/xml
Extent
1 online resource (xi, 210 p. : ill.)
Note (type = degree)
Ph.D.
Note (type = bibliography)
Includes bibliographical references
Note (type = statement of responsibility)
by Ralph A. Gigliotti
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TitleInfo
Title
Graduate School - New Brunswick Electronic Theses and Dissertations
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rucore19991600001
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Identifier (type = doi)
doi:10.7282/T3G73HM8
Genre (authority = ExL-Esploro)
ETD doctoral
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Rights

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The author owns the copyright to this work.
RightsHolder (type = personal)
Name
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Gigliotti
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Ralph
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A.
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Permission or license
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2017-03-08 13:46:20
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Ralph Gigliotti
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Rutgers University. Graduate School - New Brunswick
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Author Agreement License
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I hereby grant to the Rutgers University Libraries and to my school the non-exclusive right to archive, reproduce and distribute my thesis or dissertation, in whole or in part, and/or my abstract, in whole or in part, in and from an electronic format, subject to the release date subsequently stipulated in this submittal form and approved by my school. I represent and stipulate that the thesis or dissertation and its abstract are my original work, that they do not infringe or violate any rights of others, and that I make these grants as the sole owner of the rights to my thesis or dissertation and its abstract. I represent that I have obtained written permissions, when necessary, from the owner(s) of each third party copyrighted matter to be included in my thesis or dissertation and will supply copies of such upon request by my school. I acknowledge that RU ETD and my school will not distribute my thesis or dissertation or its abstract if, in their reasonable judgment, they believe all such rights have not been secured. I acknowledge that I retain ownership rights to the copyright of my work. I also retain the right to use all or part of this thesis or dissertation in future works, such as articles or books.
RightsEvent
DateTime (encoding = w3cdtf); (qualifier = exact); (point = start)
2017-05-31
DateTime (encoding = w3cdtf); (qualifier = exact); (point = end)
2019-05-31
Type
Embargo
Detail
Access to this PDF has been restricted at the author's request. It will be publicly available after May 31st, 2019.
Copyright
Status
Copyright protected
Availability
Status
Open
Reason
Permission or license
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2017-03-08T13:45:20
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2017-03-08T13:45:20
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