Navigating uncharted waters: The forefront of crisis READINESS


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Today’s society is characterized by a widespread of challenges - ranging from polarization and misinformation to climate change and war. To navigate these turbulent times, organizations have to monitor their environment and anticipate potential issues for their own operations. While preparing for these issues, organizations and individuals often face tensions between the ideal state of crisis readiness and the actual dynamics of crises. This includes, for example, the stark contrast between the potentially severe impact of crises and the often-lower priority given to emergency management, as well as the clash between the desire for systematic planning and the inherent uncertainty and disorder in crisis situations and unforeseen crises. This challenge is further intensified by institutional fragmentation and the presence of divergent interests within societies (Carmeli and Schaubroeck, 2008). As a result, it is crucial to expand the scope of crisis preparedness beyond mere operational measures (Kirschenbaum, 2002). In other words, being prepared should also encompass a measurable state of readiness, arming organizations and individuals with the mental agility to respond effectively, adequately, and promptly to various crises (Jin et al., 2024).

However, how do we get ready and how do we know we are ready when dealing with crises in a complex and constantly changing world? These are big questions for scholars and practitioners alike. So far crisis studies have mainly focused on understanding organizations’ preparedness and resilience, whereas crisis readiness has not been addressed in its own consistent terms. Although certain studies have explored aspects of crisis readiness (e.g., Parnell et al., 2010; Parnell and Crandall, 2021), there is still much more investigation needed on this vital topic, particularly with respect to the important role of communication in the process of crisis readiness. Overlooking crisis readiness will not only prevent us from identifying the sources of organizations’ and individuals’ vulnerabilities and fragilities that are conducive to the propagation of crises but will also contribute to amplifying the negative consequences of crises massively. Therefore, we need to understand how to articulate, assess, and advance crisis readiness, to obtain a full account of this concept, particularly bringing the needs and wants of the vulnerable groups to light and, in turn, foster their readiness.

This special issue builds upon the READINESS concept in crisis management, drawing inspiration from the Crisis Communication Think Tank’s (CCTT) 2024 “Readiness” theme public announcement. Its objective is to foster new insights, and unleash novel perspectives and innovative communication strategies, thereby enriching our understanding of crisis readiness as a multidisciplinary research hub for this pressing topic. The special issue welcomes contributions from scholars in corporate communication, strategic communication, crisis and risk communication, as well as those in management, media research, leadership studies, and other related fields and disciplines. In doing so, it brings together global thought leaders from academia and industry who have not had many interchanges in the past to develop a holistic and comprehensive perspective on crisis readiness.


List of topic areas

We, together with the special issue editorial board members all part of CCTT’s practitioner and scholar members, invite scholars and practitioners to submit research papers – welcoming both theoretical/conceptual work as well as empirical studies – on a variety of related topics including, but not limited to the following:

  1. Impact of Emerging Technologies on Crisis Readiness: Examining how new technologies like artificial intelligence, big data analytics, and blockchain influence crisis communication strategies and crisis readiness. Research could explore how these technologies can be harnessed to predict, prepare for, and manage crises.
  2. Leadership Communication in Crisis Management: Exploring the role of leadership in strategic communication during crises. This can involve studying the communication styles, strategies, and effectiveness of leaders in guiding organizations through crisis situations.
  3. Internal Communication and Employee Engagement in Crisis Management: Focusing on how strategic communication within organizations affects crisis readiness among employees as they plan for, respond to, and/or recover from a crisis. This could identify best practices for keeping employees informed, involved, and motivated in crisis situations.
  4. Public Trust and Credibility in Crisis Communication: Exploring how organizations can build and maintain public trust through strategic communication before, during, and after a crisis. This includes understanding the impact of misinformation and how to combat it effectively to enhance crisis readiness.
  5. Narrative and Framing Techniques in Crisis Readiness: Studying how the framing of messages and the use of narratives in crisis communication influence crisis readiness. This includes how stories and messaging can be used to educate, prepare, and guide stakeholders through crises.
  6. Readiness of Vulnerable Groups and At-Risk Populations: Analyzing challenges faced by specific vulnerable groups and at-risk populations to develop and strengthen crisis readiness. This could shed light on how to make crisis communication strategies more inclusive and illuminate what needs and wants should be considered when tailoring readiness models toward different stakeholder groups.
  7. Long-term Impact of Crisis Communication Strategies: Researching the long-term effects of crisis readiness models on brand reputation, stakeholder relationships, and organizational resilience. This could involve case studies of past crises and the enduring impacts of communication strategies used.
  8. Cross-Cultural Crisis Communication: Analyzing how cultural differences impact the effectiveness of crisis readiness. This can help develop more inclusive and effective communication strategies that consider diverse cultural backgrounds and norms.
  9. Organizations and societal issues: Relating to how organizations might get "cancelled" or forced to speak out on contested issues which might result in alienating a substantial part of their stakeholders.

The call for papers welcomes submissions focusing on one or more of these topics, but also on other related topics that fit the rationale of the special issue. Authors are requested to ensure the originality of their contributions, make a theoretical contribution (e.g., testing, creating, or extending theory), be innovative, interesting, novel, and offer implications for practice.


Guest Editors

Yijing Wang,
Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands
[email protected]

Yan Jin,
University of Georgia, USA,
[email protected]

Timothy Coombs,
Centre for Crisis and Risk Communications, USA,
[email protected]

Toni G.L.A. van der Meer,
University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands,
[email protected]


Submissions Information

Submissions are made using ScholarOne Manuscripts. Registration and access are available by clicking the button below.

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Author guidelines must be strictly followed.

Authors should select (from the drop-down menu) the special issue title at the appropriate step in the submission process, i.e. in response to “Please select the issue you are submitting to”.

Submitted articles must not have been previously published, nor should they be under consideration for publication anywhere else, while under review for this journal.


Key Deadlines

Opening date for manuscripts submissions: 3 November 2024

Closing date for manuscripts submission: 3 January 2025

Closing date for abstract submission: 15 September 2024

Email for abstract submissions: [email protected]; [email protected]