Renewal and complexities in corporate crisis: how do Chipotle utilize discourse of renewal in crisis communication?
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT AUTHOR'S REQUEST.] This case study examines the crisis communication of Chipotle following a series of outbreaks of food-borne illness incidents in 2015. Using discourse of renewal as a framework, the four characteristics of renewal (Ulmer, Seeger and Sellnow, 2007) were consistently identified in Chipotle's crisis communication during its recovery process. These characteristics include: provisional rather than strategic, prospective rather than retrospective, optimistic as opposed to pessimistic, and communicating organizational values through leader-based communication. However, discourse of renewal was originally considered a restricted approach that is only applicable to a crisis where the organization is not responsible for the cause it. Being directly responsible for the crisis, complexities and oppositions to Chipotle's renewal process were also identified even though the tenets of discourse of renewal were all met in its crisis communication. However, this study's overall evaluation of Chipotle's crisis communication is positive, despite the complexities emerged. It posits that despite the complications and difficulties organizations may experience though the renewal process, discourse of renewal is still applicable to crises where the organizations are held responsible. As protracted and challenging as the renewal process could be, discourse of renewal is worth the effort and patience for the long-term improvement it generates for companies under crisis.