Date of Award

Spring 5-2009

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Speech Communication

Committee Chair

John C. Meyer

Committee Chair Department

Communication Studies

Committee Member 2

Jae-Hwa Shin

Committee Member 3

Charles Tardy

Committee Member 4

Steven Venette


This study analyzed an educational organization's crisis communication with its employees regarding the devastation caused to the organization and to employees by hurricane Katrina in 2005. This study drew upon literature regarding communication in crisis and in particular, natural disaster crisis, to ascertain to what degree employees felt the organization engaged in characteristics of High Reliability Organizations. A case study approach employing both qualitative and quantitative data was utilized.

The data revealed that the organization was perceived by employees has having adequately communicated before and after Katrina. Data further revealed that the organization engages in behaviors consistent with practices of High Reliability Organizations. This study was designed to add to a limited body of knowledge regarding effective crisis communication practices of employers with employees during natural disasters.