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Understanding the arena of smoldering crises: A longitudinal study of discursive struggles after implementing a new IT health care platform

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Purpose: The aim of this paper is to study the development of a smoldering crisis over time. The focus is on a nationwide news media and online news communication related to a smoldering crisis running in the Danish healthcare system since 2016: the problematic implementation of a large-scale electronic health record (EHR), technology entitled Sundhedsplatformen (SP), in the hospitals of the capital region of Denmark. Design/methodology/approach: Based on insights from crisis communication theories and in particular rhetorical arena theory (RAT), traces of SP smoldering crisis and patterns of discursive strategies are identified and explained from a longitudinal perspective to explain the communicative complexity that characterizes this smoldering crisis. To build an understanding of how this smoldering crisis is perceived, followed and kept alive, an analysis of (de)legitimation discursive strategies employed strategically by various actors and voices in news articles is conducted in relation to four communicative themes: issue identification, warnings, blame attribution and potential solutions. Findings: It has been found that a legitimacy deficit emerges communicatively through specific (de)legitimation strategies during this smoldering crisis. New insights into RAT (Frandsen and Johansen, 2017) are also provided. Practical implications: This study is not only of theoretical relevance, but it is also of practical relevance for public relation professionals who aim to identify characteristics of starting smoldering crises as well as to find strategic responses to the ongoing challenges and the developing over time of smoldering crises. Originality/value: New insights into RAT (Frandsen and Johansen, 2017) are provided.

TidsskriftJournal of Communication Management
Antal sider16
StatusE-pub ahead of print - sep. 2022

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