Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Chair

Stacey Connaughton

Committee Member 1

Josh Boyd

Committee Member 2

Brian Smith


Organizational Communication scholars have thoroughly researched communicative processes and phenomena during times of organizational crisis. However, little research aims to understand the extremely important employee perspective during such hardships. In this study, through in-depth qualitative interviews, I investigated employees’ reports of their roles in renegotiating organizational identity, preferred sensemaking tactics, and dissemination of communication during their company’s private financial crisis. I found employees generally failed to recognize their roles in renegotiating organizational identity, instead viewing organizational identity maintenance as a responsibility of leadership. Employees also reported engaging in a number of sensemaking tactics to understand their crisis situation, such as gossip, information seeking/comparing, metaphor, blame-shifting, denial/minimization, and deriving purpose. Finally, I proposed an adapted version of the Social Mediated Crisis Communication Model (Jin & Liu, 2010) to explain how communication is disseminated within the confines of an organization experiencing crisis. Future research on this topic will shed greater light on the complex relationships between organizational identity, employee experiences, and crisis.