Sheldene K. Simola University of Guelph
The ﬁeld of modern organizational crisis management emerged largely in response to the 1982 cyanide tampering of Tylenol capsules (Mitroff, 2001). Since that time, a substantial body of scholarly research and practical wisdom has developed. Despite the use of psychological research by crisismanagement scholars, organizational crisis management has received substantially less attention within psychology itself. This article provides an overview of the ﬁeld and highlights current frameworks for understanding the stages of organizational crisis/ response. It extends previous theory by applying the “levels of prevention” framework often used in community and health psychology and byoffering a new assessment tool based on the “4 factor” (4 P) framework used in clinical assessment. Areas for psychological consultation and research are discussed.
In September 1982, Johnson & Johnson experienced a potentially devastating corporate crisis. The deaths of seven people in the Chicago area had been linked to ingestion of cyanide through contaminated capsules of one of its mostsuccessful products, Extra-Strength Tylenol (Boatright, 2000). Faced with growing public safety concerns and the potential for signiﬁcant long-term damage to the Tylenol brand, executives needed to intervene quickly. In doing so, they considered the corporation’s own credo, which clearly articulated a primary responsibility to those who use their products (Boatright, 2000; Collins & Porras, 2000). Althoughthere was strong evidence that the tampering occurred outside of its own facility and seemed to be contained in one geographical area (Fink, 1986), Johnson & Johnson quickly proceeded with a nationwide product recall, at a cost of $100 million (Collins & Porras, 2000; Fink,
1986). Through this timely and compelling action, Johnson & Johnson demonstrated its commitment to safety and the peopleit served. Public trust was strengthened, sales and market share quickly rebounded (Siomkos, 1992), and the value of the Tylenol brand was protected. It was following the imperfect, yet much lauded, management (see Boatright, 2000; Fink, 1986; Pauchant & Mitroff, 1992; Sobol, Farrelly, & Taper, 1992) of this high-proﬁle and high-stakes crisis that the ﬁeld of modern organizational crisismanagement emerged (Mitroff, 2001). Two decades after the Tylenol crisis, a substantial body of scholarly research and practical wisdom exists. However, despite the use of psychological theory and research by crisis management scholars (e.g., Fischoff, 1989; Gladwin & Kumar, 1987; Pauchant & Mitroff, 1992; Pearson & Clair, 1998; Powell, 1991), the ﬁeld of crisis management has received substantially lessattention within psychology itself. Given the skill sets that psychologists could bring to consultation and research in crisis management, this is somewhat surprising.
Sheldene K. Simola is an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Guelph, with research interests in the areas of organizational behavior, leadership, and business ethics. I thank Ian R. Newby-Clarkfor his helpful comments on a draft of this article. Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Sheldene K. Simola, Department of Psychology, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario N1G 2W1, Canada. E-mail: email@example.com
Copyright 2005 by the Educational Publishing Foundation and the Society of Consulting Psychology, 1065-9293/05/$12.00 DOI:10.1037/1065-92184.108.40.206 Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research, Vol. 57, No. 3, 180 –192
The purpose of this article is to stimulate increased interest in the ﬁeld of organizational crisis management among consulting psychologists. An overview of the ﬁeld is provided, including current frameworks for understanding the stages of crisis/response. This article extends previous theoretical approaches...