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RESEARCH NEWS

In a corporate crisis, what would you say?

by Nancy Johnson

December 23, 2009

Business Chart


Put yourself in the shoes of an executive when accounting fraud is discovered … a cholesterol drug doesn’t work as it should … a restructuring plan is leaked on the Internet … a tiger mauls visitors at the zoo.

These are just a few of the thorny corporate communication cases that Notre Dame MBA and undergraduate students analyzed in the past two years in Professor James S. O’Rourke’s Corporate Communication course.

The students researched and wrote case studies about how company executives addressed these topical issues, and others, which have made the headlines in recent years. Through these cases, students engage with sensitive ethical and reputational issues and explore a wide range of corporate communications strategies and scenarios.

For the past 15 years, Professor O’Rourke, who directs the Fanning Center for Business Communication, has edited and published these student-written cases—which total nearly 200. Many of the cases are in daily use in business schools from Barcelona to Singapore and throughout North America.

What is a key to responding effectively in a crisis? Credibility is the only thing you have, says O’Rourke. “If people don’t believe you, you have lost. Speak freely, speak often, answer people directly.”

For more information about purchasing cases, visit business.nd.edu/fanning