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Abstract

Product-harm crises, which are connected to defective or dangerous products, are perceived as the most common threats to a company. Product harm crises can distort long standing favorable equality perceptions, tarnish a company`s reputation, cause major revenue and market-share losses, lead to costly product recalls, and devastate a carefully nurtured brand equity. However, in spite of the devastating impact of product-harm crises, little systematic research exists to asses its marketing consequences. So, the purpose of this study is to investigate how Koreans react to the crisis response in the aftermath of different crises(competence violation vs. integrity violation) and inspire additional research in crisis communication. This study has three main findings which run counter to the assumptions of Kim et al.(2007). Namely, the current study expands on the research of Kim et al. (2004, 2007) by examining how companies repair customers` trust and corporate attitude after crises. Different from previous studies, this study assumes that apology for an integrity-based crisis is the most appropriate way to repair consumer trust and corporate attitude. As for competence- based crisis, similarly, apology for competence-based crisis can be more successful repairing consumer trust and corporate attitude. Concerning silence strategy, remaining silent dose not admit or deny guilt right away, but instead of asking the perceiver to withhold judgment, suggesting that, silence could be expected to be superior to apology but inferior to denial. Finally, apology for competence violation will be expected to bemore effective than apology for integrity violation. Research conceptual model was as follows: According to the results, apology is found to be the most effective strategy to repair corporate attitude no matter the crisis is perceived as a violation of competence or integrity. Second, company may consider keeping silent as a desirable response because they does not admit nor deny responsibility but ask the public to withhold judgment. However, the result of this study shows that, in the overall crisis situations, silence strategy did not differ significantly from the denial strategy, which suggested that the public wants explanation instead of uncertainty. Third, there was the interaction effect between crisis type and crisis response strategies. In this study, apology is more effective for the competence violated situation in terms of regaining consumer trust and repairing their attitude toward company, while the apology`s effectiveness is lower for the integrity-violated situation. More specifically, when the crisis is perceived due to company`s lack of ability(competence violation), consumer`s trust belief and attitude toward the company is more easily to repair when the company issued a sincere apology. Damaged product is perceived less intentional so participants are more likely to give the company second chance when they apology to the public. By contrast, exaggerated advertisement(integrity violation) is perceived intentionally and thus makes participants angrier toward the accused company. Although apology is perceived as the most effective strategy, when issuing apology, it also means the company admitted their intention. Therefore, in this kind of crisis situation, trust repair needs not only a sincere apology but additional efforts.

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