Crisis Communication: A Content Analysis of Vale S.A's Post-crisis Communication after Two Mining Disasters

Noelia Garcia Soberon

Student thesis: Master thesis


The purpose of this paper is to conduct an exploratory study of crisis response strategies employed by the Brazilian mining company Vale S.A. to communicate on two mining disasters. Accordingly, I explore whether Coombs’ (2007) suggestions on the usage of crisis response strategies inform practice. Although my intention is not to generalize across broad populations, I intend to inform practice via identifying “lessons” that may be relevant and useful to other practitioners dealing with crises.
This research employs secondary data sources in the form of company responses retrieved from the ‘Business and Human Rights Resource Centre’ (BHRRC) and sustainability reports retrieved from the GRI database in June 2019. This research argues for an abductive approach to theory development, which allowed conducting latent coding in order to test part of SCCT prepositions, as well as the emergence of new strategies.
The analysis indicates that Coombs’ (2007) recommended usage of crisis response strategies does not always inform practice. Firstly, this research contributes to the existing list of crisis response strategies by suggesting the incorporation of three new strategies and two sub-strategies that Vale consistently employs in its post-crisis communication: Non-Repetition, Transparent Communication, and Crisis Support (which includes the sub-strategies Recovery and Immediate Support). Secondly, this study identifies a predominant usage of accommodative strategies even for crises framed as accidents. Finally, this research suggests using the BHRRC to sound out the way stakeholders frame a crisis so crisis managers take better informed decisions to manage crisis communication.

EducationsMSc in Business, Language and Culture - Diversity and Change Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2020
Number of pages159