2022 journal article
Contingency theory informs relationship management: Exploring the contingent organization-public relationships (COPR) in a crisis of Mainland China
PUBLIC RELATIONS REVIEW, 48(2).
This paper demonstrates the theoretical rationale for incorporating the concept of relationship management into the contingency theory of strategic conflict management (the contingency theory thereafter). Such a contingency approach is created to aid organizations in evaluating organization-public relationships (OPR) across stages of crises. Based on cross-disciplinary scholarship from crisis communication and public relations, this study explores how the identified three categories of contingency factors, such as predisposing, situational, and proscriptive elements affect relationships in the crisis management process. A case study of the Wukan crisis between governments and activist publics in mainland China is analyzed to examine the contingent organization-public relationships (COPR) and its predecessors. Implications of this study are to move the contingency theory beyond the static measurement of stances and extend its scope into relationship management. This study also adds value to the crisis communication literature, which mainly focuses on organizations in Western contexts.