MOD4455_96ID Unit 1 Scandal at Penn State Sexual Abuse Case study Summary

timer Asked: Mar 30th, 2019
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Question Description

Fundamentals of Crisis Management

Case Study: Mini- Case - Scandal at Penn State

Case Summary


In a narrative format, summarize the key facts and issues of the case.


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Update the information in the case by researching it on the Internet. Focus your response on the specific issues in the case.


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Consider the impact of the Sandusky scandal on Penn State. What organizational functions (management, marketing, human resources, etc.) were affected by the crisis?
How were they affected?


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Who are the internal and external stakeholders? How were the stakeholders affected?


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Imagine you are a crisis management consultant called in to advise Penn State's Board of Trustees after the scandal began. What steps would you recommend to contain the damage to long-term the university's overall image and reputation? What factors should you consider and why? Please explain your reasoning regarding your recommendation.


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Case Analysis


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S A N F O R D , B E T H A N Y 1 3 5 3 T S FOR THE USE OF SAVANT LEARNING STUDENTS AND FACULTY ONLY. NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION, SALE, OR REPRINTING. ANY AND ALL UNAUTHORIZED USE IS STRICTLY PROHIBITED. Copyright © 2014 by SAGE Publications, Inc. CHAPTER 1 A Framework for Crisis Management S A N F Visualizing Crisis Management O R Visualize the term crisis management,D and a number of images may pop into your head. Consider these possibilities: , ■ ■ ■ ■ Maybe you thought of a recent YouTube video of two Domino’s Pizza employees, one of whom put cheese up his nose and then placed it on a sandwich. The video received B nearly one million views on YouTube before it was removed (Beaubien, 2009). E Perhaps you remembered stories about numerous outbreaks of violent T weather, particularly tornadoes that have hit the Midwest and southern portions of the United States H in recent years. These weather patterns were not only sudden, but were catastrophic the physical and human damage A they inflicted. N On a broader level, you might have envisioned a team of managers trying to Y part of the production facilities at their deal with a fire that has destroyed manufacturing plant. Indeed, fires remain one of the most prominent types of crises that managers must address. 1 You might have thought of the tsunami that hit Japan in 2011, causing widespread death, destruction,3and the interruption of global supply chains. This event was further complicated 5 by the spread of nuclear fallout in the air and water. 3 Indeed, the term crisis management T invokes a number of images in the mind of the reader. However, crisis management is not just a one-time response to an unfortunate event. It is much broaderSthan that. We view it as a strategic process that must occur far before the first crisis ever takes place in the life of the organization. It is a process that must be planned both before and after the crisis occurs. 1 2 FOR THE USE OF SAVANT LEARNING STUDENTS AND FACULTY ONLY. NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION, SALE, OR REPRINTING. ANY AND ALL UNAUTHORIZED USE IS STRICTLY PROHIBITED. Copyright © 2014 by SAGE Publications, Inc. CRISIS MANAGEMENT IN THE NEW STRATEGY LANDSCAPE When we view crisis management as a holistic process, a conceptual framework must be developed to understand how this process should be organized. A framework functions as a map that helps us see how the different parts of a process are interrelated. This book offers a framework to help you understand the field of crisis management and how you can better prepare for crisis events that may occur in your organization. The onset of crises in organizations is a common occurrence in our contemporary environment. And yet many people associate a crisis with a highly dramatic event that produces mass destruction and even causalities. Most organizational crises are far less dramatic but can still have a substantial negative impact on the firm. The problem with associating only catastrophic events with a crisis is that they sound so dramatic that most organizational leaders may assume an “It can’t Sthen, consider these crises that are still damaging, yet happen to us” mentality. But less prominent: A ■ ■ ■ In January 2012, Coca-Cola Company encountered a problem with its N orange juice products, Simply Orange and Minute Maid. Some of the prodF ucts sold in the United States contained small amounts of carbendazim, an O used with oranges from Brazil. Although the fungiunapproved fungicide cide is approved in R that country, it is not in the United States, prompting Coca-Cola to move into crisis management mode (Kiernan & McKay, 2012). D General Motors (GM) faced a setback in late 2011 when its electricity-propelled , poorly in three crash tests that resulted in fires or sparks Chevy Volt performed from the vehicle’s battery pack. GM, realizing it was facing a crisis, offered loaner cars to any of the 6,000 Chevy Volt owners while engineers worked to fix B the problem (Terlep, 2011). E online advertisement by Johnson & Johnson (J&J) In 2008, a now-infamous promoting its pain T reliever, Motrin, met resistance from young mothers. The ad stated that mothers who carry their babies in a sling are making H a “fashion statement,” something that many of the moms found offenA Johnson & Johnson quickly pulled the ad from the sive (Wheaton, 2008). Internet. N As these examples illustrate, Y not every organizational crisis is dramatic, but each one can have a far-reaching impact if it is not managed properly. 1 3 Setting the Context 5 3 Unfortunate events will occur in the life of most organizations. We refer to these T broad approaches to the managing of these events: events as crises. There are two (1) Try to keep them fromS occurring in the first place, and (2) mitigate or soften the impact of the crisis when it does occur. Crisis management is the discipline that addresses these two approaches. Crisis management is a field of growing interest because many managers now realize that their firms are not immune to those sudden, unexpected events that can FOR THE USE OF SAVANT LEARNING STUDENTS AND FACULTY ONLY. NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION, SALE, OR REPRINTING. ANY AND ALL UNAUTHORIZED USE IS STRICTLY PROHIBITED. Copyright © 2014 by SAGE Publications, Inc. Chapter 1. A Framework for Crisis Management 3 put an organization into a tailspin, and sometimes even out of business. This book is written for managers and students of crisis management. As present or future leaders in your organizations, the key issue you will face is not whether a crisis will occur, but when, and what type. As a result, an understanding of crisis management is an essential part of your toolkit for organizational and professional success. Developing a Framework for Studying Crisis Management A starting point for understanding crisis management is to view it in terms of a S what we experience in organizational framework. Frameworks group or organize life. In this book, we develop a framework A that looks at crisis management in four distinct phases. In addition, each phase is divided into its internal and external N . Our framework begins with a definidimensions, a distinction we call landscapes tion of the term, presented in the nextFsection. O R Definition of Crisis D The word crisis has been used interchangeably with a number of other terms, , including disaster, business interruption, catastrophe, emergency, or contingency (Herbane, 2010). Hence, the definition of a crisis must be established before a suitable framework can be developed. Numerous definitions have been offered, and B most synthesize previous definitions to some extent. Pearson and Clair (1998) have E offered the most widely used definition of an organizational crisis: T An organizational crisis is a low-probability, high-impact event that threatens H the viability of the organization and is characterized by ambiguity of cause, effect, and means of resolution, as A well as by a belief that decisions must be N made swiftly. (p. 60) Y The following implications of this definition should be highlighted: ■ ■ ■ A crisis is a “low-probability” event. This characteristic makes the planning 1 for a crisis even more troublesome. Events that are not perceived to be immi3 nent are hard to plan for. In addition, it is often difficult for management to find the motivation to plan5for such an event. The notion is, “Why plan for something bad if it may not occur?” (Spillan & Crandall, 2002). Many 3 managers have asked that same question until they were confronted with a T major crisis. A crisis can have a high-damage S impact. A crisis can devastate an organization, even kill it, or at best, leave it badly wounded. The reference to “ambiguity of cause” means that the origins and effects of the crisis might not be known initially. As humans, we instinctively like to point to simple causes. We especially seek to look for human stakeholders 4 FOR THE USE OF SAVANT LEARNING STUDENTS AND FACULTY ONLY. NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION, SALE, OR REPRINTING. ANY AND ALL UNAUTHORIZED USE IS STRICTLY PROHIBITED. Copyright © 2014 by SAGE Publications, Inc. CRISIS MANAGEMENT IN THE NEW STRATEGY LANDSCAPE ■ ■ such as management or company owners who might have contributed to negligence, ultimately causing a crisis. However, as we will see throughout this book, multiple interrelated factors can lead to a certain trigger event that can initiate a crisis. The ambiguity in this definition also implies that the means of resolving the crisis are often debatable. In other words, several viable options may be available for the crisis management team to use in its goal of mitigating the crisis. Certain aspects of managing a crisis may require swift decision making. The failure to act decisively during the acute stage of the crisis can often intensify the ordeal. All of these definitions provide a starting point for understanding crisis manageS ment. As more understanding of crisis management has emerged, more contempoA of crisis and crisis management have been developed. rary ideas and interpretations Timothy Coombs’s (2007) N has developed one of the most recent conceptualizations of a crisis: F A crisis is the perceptionO of an unpredictable event that threatens important expectancies of stakeholders R and can seriously impact an organization’s performance and generate negative outcomes. (pp. 2–3) D This definition emphasizes , perception. A crisis is generally perceived to be a threat by the organization’s stakeholders, various groups that have an interest in the organization. Employees, customers, and the community in which the organization B resides are considered stakeholders. Coombs infers that not all stakeholders will perceive that a crisis is occurring. E A product defect that is detected by consumers, but not individuals inside the T company, is an example of the incongruity that can take place. Nonetheless, a crisis has occurred, because the perceptions of at least one group of stakeholders H have been affected in a negative manner by the event. Recognizing this distinction Ais important because there are occasions when management has gone into denial, proclaiming that no crisis has occurred (or could N ever occur, for that matter), when in fact one has transpired (Sheaffer & ManoYfull of examples of this type of denial, such as General Negrin, 2003). Textbooks are Motors’ denial that anything was wrong with its Corvair automobile (Nader, 1965). In this early 1960s example of a corporate crisis, consumers and the media 1 claimed that the Corvair automobile was subject to instability when going into a 3 involving fatalities had occurred as a result of this turn. Indeed, several accidents structural problem. GM maintained that the problem of instability was caused by 5 driver error, not a defect in the car. This denial by GM that a crisis existed resulted 3 in a huge public image problem for the company. This book follows these T crisis definition guidelines. We build on the definition offered by Pearson and ClairSin 1998 (which is the most frequently cited in the crisis management literature), but we also include the perspective offered by Coombs. To paraphrase Pearson, Clair, and Coombs, we offer the following definition to serve as our reference point throughout the book: FOR THE USE OF SAVANT LEARNING STUDENTS AND FACULTY ONLY. NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION, SALE, OR REPRINTING. ANY AND ALL UNAUTHORIZED USE IS STRICTLY PROHIBITED. Copyright © 2014 by SAGE Publications, Inc. Chapter 1. A Framework for Crisis Management A crisis is an event that has a low probability of occurring, but should it occur, can have a vastly negative impact on the organization. The causes of the crisis, as well as the means to resolve it, may not be readily clear; nonetheless, its resolution should be approached as quickly as possible. Finally, the crisis impact may not be initially obvious to all of the relevant stakeholders of the organization. One characteristic of a crisis that should be mentioned is this: they rarely occur without warning. Instead, a number of preconditions usually exist that breed a crisis. Put differently, crises have life cycles, and understanding what occurs before a crisis commences is important to helping prevent it. S The Life Cycle of a Crisis A Researchers usually examine a crisisNin a sequential manner to better understand its evolution. One approach is to lookFat a crisis in four stages: preconditions, the trigger event, the crisis itself, and the postcrisis. O 1. Preconditions. Smith (1990) was R one of the first to point out that a set of smaller events typically interact before a crisis occurs. This combination of events D eventually leads to a significant occurrence, commonly called the “trigger event” , causes the crisis to commence. For exam(Roux-Dufort, 2009; Smith, 1990), which ple, the trigger event at Union Carbide’s Bhopal India plant in 1984 was the entry of water into a gas storage tank that subsequently caused the unit’s temperature to rise. The resulting pressure increase forcedB the dangerous gas methyl isocyanate (MIC) to escape, resulting in the deaths ofEthousands of innocent civilians. However, responsibility for the crisis cannot beT attributed solely to those involved with that step in the crisis because numerous preconditions contributed to the origin of the H a refrigeration system, failing to reset the accident. These included shutting down A gas scrubber, and an inoperative flame tank temperature alarm, the nonfunctioning tower designed to burn off toxic gasesN (Hartley, 1993). 2. Trigger event. The trigger eventYis the point at which the crisis escalates and upsets the normal equilibrium of the organization. The firm has been functioning normally up to this point, but preconditions brewing “beneath the surface” 1 ultimately setting the crisis in motion have been leading up to the trigger event, and making it noticeable to the key stakeholders of the organization. Some might 3 equate it to the point “where all hell breaks loose” or “the straw that broke the 5 camel’s back” (Crandall, 2007). 3 3. Crisis. The escalation of the crisis produces the greatest damage to the T stakeholders include employees, manorganization and its stakeholders. Potential agement, owners or stockholders, customers, those who use social media outlets, S suppliers, the local community, and government regulators. Damage can be extensive during this acute stage of the crisis and can have a major effect on the business or organization’s continuity. 5 6 FOR THE USE OF SAVANT LEARNING STUDENTS AND FACULTY ONLY. NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION, SALE, OR REPRINTING. ANY AND ALL UNAUTHORIZED USE IS STRICTLY PROHIBITED. Copyright © 2014 by SAGE Publications, Inc. CRISIS MANAGEMENT IN THE NEW STRATEGY LANDSCAPE 4. Postcrisis. When the acute phase of the crisis is over, management should reflect on the event and glean lessons on what changes need to be made to prevent future crisis events (Kovoor-Misra and Nathan, 2000; Smith & Elliott, 2007). For example, after the first cyanide poisoning in 1982 of extra-strength Tylenol, Johnson & Johnson switched to a tamper-proof container. After the second poisoning in 1986, J&J made additional changes and manufactured the product as a caplet, a nonpenetrable material that cannot be adulterated by cyanide. Strategic Orientation In many instances, crisis events in organizations are addressed with a short-term, reactive perspective. When S a crisis occurs, select individuals in an organization— perhaps those on an established A crisis management team—convene to minimize the damage and present a positive image to the public. Any preparations for dealing with such crises often focus on N effective communications and public relations. In contrast, organizations continually F face strategic challenges. They must adapt to their changing business environments and modify their strategies to survive and remain O competitive. In doing so, their managers tend to adopt a long-term perspective on R strategic planning. Between the extremes ofDan organizational crisis and a strategic challenge are obstacles to organizational success that are not always easy to classify. Indeed, , distinguishing between a crisis and a strategic challenge may be difficult. Consider these potential scenarios, all of which are based on a number of events that have occurred over the past several B years: ■ A supplier in another E country produces a product that turns out to be defective and the product isTassembled as a component into a domestically manufactured product. The final product fails, and in the process, kills three people. Is H this a crisis or a strategic challenge? The answer is both. It is a crisis because there has been a loss of life because A of a defective product. It is a strategic challenge because the supplier might have been selected solely for its ability to manufacture N the component product at a low cost. Y A labor union stages a mass boycott of certain products that are sold by domestic companies but manufactured overseas. The message from the protest is that these products have1caused the loss of domestic jobs. The boycott causes some revenue loss for the companies that manufacture and retail these products. 3 In a few cases, vandalism occurs on retail store properties that offer the products. Is this a crisis or a strategic5challenge? Again, it is both. It is a crisis because of the sudden and unexpected loss 3of revenue for the companies involved. Furthermore, the damage and public apathy T is of concern because it requires swift and effective decision making to ease the problem. It is a strategic challenge because the products S are made overseas for cost reasons. ■ ■ A major pharmaceutical company begins a program for the expansion of products that involves addressing health needs for baby boomers, a market that is seen as a major revenue source in the years to come. Several new drugs are approved FOR THE USE OF SAVANT LEARNING STUDENTS AND FACULTY ONLY. NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION, SALE, OR REPRINTING. ANY AND ALL UNAUTHORIZED USE IS STRICTLY PROHIBITED. Copyright © 2014 by SAGE Publications, Inc. Chapter 1. A Framework for Crisis Management and introduced to the market. After a few years, however, one of the drugs is linked to a deadly heart disease. Pressure to withdraw the drug is put firmly on the pharmaceutical company. Is this a crisis or a strategic challenge? Once again, it is both. It is a crisis because stakeholder attention is questioning the credibility of the drug and, indirectly, the credibility of the company. A major repercussion could result from this event, and swift decisions are required. And it is a strategic challenge because the drug was in the firm’s long-term arsenal of products that would be popular and viable over the next 20 years. ■ A major corporation establishes a compensation plan for its management staff that rewards them on the basis of performance. As hoped, performance indicators begin to look good in certain areas of the company, despite the fact that the local economy has been faltering. For seven quarters, two managers receive bonuses S based on meeting the performance indices established under the compensation plan. Unfortunately, it is discovered later thatA both managers have been “cooking the books.” They are eventually fired, and the company N is fined. During the ordeal, the company receives negative press because of the “unethical acts of its managers.” Is this a crisis F or a strategic challenge? Of course, this answer is both. The crisis aspect was manifested by the reputational and financialO damage the company suffered. This dilemma also has roots as a strategic challenge. R The decision to set up a bonus plan based on performance was, in itself, not a poor decision. Indeed, most ma ...
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Tutor Answer

School: New York University



Crisis Management in Business
Institutional Affiliation




Jerry Sandusky a once respected football coach at Penn State University and who was
hired in the late 1960s, sexually abused young boys and men. Although top management who
included Spanier, Schultz, Curley, and Paterno was aware of Sandusky’s deeds, they failed to
take actions against him because they did not care about plight faced by Sandusky’s victims
(Crandall, Parnell & Spillan, 2013). After the mother of an 11-year-old boy who was assaulted in
the Lasch building by Sandusky reported the cases to the University Police Department, the
management failed to determine the identity of Sandusky’s victim.
Even though top management met with relevant authorities to discuss and address the
issue, they handle the matter inefficiently and discretely. The meetings and actions taken by the
management did not succeed because they failed to seek the input of the board of trustee.
Secondly, the victims were not properly identified as well as their critical information was not
protected (Crandall, Parnell & Spillan, 2013). As a result, it did not prevent Sandusky from
abusing the minors. Failure to seek information of board of trustee denied the management with
the opportunity to acquire diverse opinions that could have improved decision-making process.
33 months later after the mother of an 11-year-old boy reported the case, Mike
McQueary, football assistant at Penn State witnessed Sandusky assaulting a 10-year-old boy in
the showers of Lasch Building. After McQueary reported the case to Paterno who later met with
Schultz and Curley, Curley confronted Sandusky and directed him not to bring any more boys to
the athletic facilities (Crandall, Parnell & Spillan, 2013). Curley later met with the executive
director of Second Mile charitable organization. The executive director dismissed the case



terming it as a “non-incident”. The executive director failed to take action against Sandusky
because he was the founder of the organization.
Sandusky was later charged with 45 counts of child sex abuse. This occurred at the time
when Penn State University had gotten subpoenas from the attorney general of Pennsylvania
detailing personal records of Sandusky abusing the minors (Crandall, Parnell & Spillan, 2013).
Months later after subpoenas were received by Penn University, the crisis grows rapidly. The
reports indicated that the abuse committed by Sandusky occurred both within and outside
The height of the scandal is to be blamed on the incompetence of Paterno. Being a Head
Coach, it has emerges that Paterno was not keen ...

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