Marije Bakker : "Turning Crisis into Opportunity: the Influence of the Government and the Social environment"

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Marije Bakker : "Turning Crisis into Opportunity: the Influence of the Government and the Social environment"

On April 5, 2018 Marije Bakker will defend the PhD thesis entitled "Turning Crisis into Opportunity: the Influence of the Government and the Social environment" at University of Twente.

Promotor
Prof. dr. José Kerstholt (TNO & University of Twente), Prof. dr. Ellen Giebels (University of Twente), dr. Marco van Bommel (University of Twente)


Summary

The main research goal of this doctoral thesis was to investigate to what extent risk- and crisis communication from the government, accountability for a crisis, and information from the social environment influence how citizens deal with a crisis. First, the government can provide courses of action in risk- and crisis communication. The question would be whether citizens are willing to follow up these courses of action. Whether citizens are willing to do so also depends on the quality of the relationship between citizens and the government. When citizens, for example, have less trust in the government, they will be less inclined to follow the governmental advice. Second, who or what is held accountable for the crisis can also affect citizens’ behavior and perceptions. For example, when the government is held accountable, it may have a negative effect on the relationship between citizens and the government, possibly resulting in less willingness to follow up the advice. Third, narratives and (online) reactions from peers can also influence behavior during a crisis. The information received from peers may not only affect how citizens deal with the crisis, but it may also affect the perceptions of citizens towards their peers. When the reactions from peers are all different during a crisis, this may lead to less trust in their peers. Based on this doctoral thesis we can conclude that in general citizens are willing to act during a crisis: they are willing to help others and are willing to take actions to protect themselves against the consequences of a crisis. The government can stimulate citizens to act in an adequate way during a crisis by providing risk- and crisis information with courses of action. Whether the government is held accountable for the crisis makes no difference for citizens’ willingness to take actions. Depending on the context, the influence of the social environment can be both positive and negative for the self-reliant behavior of citizens.


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