When an Issue Becomes a Crisis: An Investigation of Pre-crisis Communication through Annual Reports

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Drawing on the issues management approach, this study investigates the pre-crisis communication of a multinational enterprise through its annual reports. Using Toyota's global recall crisis as an example, the study examines what a crisis-ridden firm actually focused on and the extent to which the firm communicated warning signs, before a crisis. By employing a leading-edge text analytics software, Leximancer, the study explores the narratives of the annual reports. It sheds light on a less-explored dimension of crisis communication and evidences a shortfall in Toyota's issues management. The findings show that Toyota's articulation of its core values, commitment to safety and customer-orientation subsided before the global recall crisis, despite the fact that some safety issues had surfaced by that time. The analysis highlights that there is a need for the company to conduct a more rigorous self-evaluation of its priorities through the process of outlining annual reports in a non/pre-crisis period.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Management Practice
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)283–300
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Annual report
  • Content analysis
  • Crisis communication
  • Crisis management
  • Issues management
  • Leximancer
  • Pre-crisis period
  • Retrospective case study

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