Please find here the articles written by Wouter Jong, crisis consultant at the Dutch Association of Mayors, and others. For enquiries, please feel free to e-mail info [@]



Crisis leadership by mayors; an empirical multhimethod study
De dissertatie van Wouter Jong bevat een deel van de onderstaande studies. Op deze studie promoveerde hij op 19 december 2019. De Engelstalige PDF-versie is hier te downloaden. Een Nederlandstalige samenvatting (Leiderschap bij crises. Een onderzoek naar de rol van burgemeesters) in PDF is hier te downloaden.



Wijzen op de schuld van een ander
Artikel uit het Tijdschrift voor Communicatiewetenschap. Klik hier voor download.


Anticipating the unknown: Crisis communication while under investigation
Article in Public Relations Inquiry

The cause of a crisis may have to be reidentified when, during the aftermath of the crisis, new insights come to light in the accident reports. The possible reassignment of responsibility for a crisis complicates the suitable choice of an appropriate crisis response strategy that is ultimately intended to optimize reputational protection. This article describes how this phenomenon should be taken into account and suggests an ‘acknowledge and await’ response strategy for situations in which organizations prefer to respond with care and not jump to conclusions before the outcomes of an investigation are known.



The Perspective of the Affected: What People Confronted With Disasters Expect From Government Officials and Public Leaders​
Article in Risk, Hazards, Crisis & Public Policy

Despite available knowledge on appropriate psychosocial support for people confronted with death, loss, and severe stress in the context of major crises and disasters, it is crucial to understand what people affected expect from government officials and public leaders in the aftermath of an extreme event. Eight interviews with affected adult residents were conducted to explore their expectations and experiences in relation to government. This was done against the background of Park's (2016) model on meaning making. Findings revealed that interviewees expected the government to help them in a fair, compassionate, equal, and reliable manner. They also expected support in fulfilling event‐related practical needs, and assumed that the government would use its capacity to align network partners and break down bureaucratic barriers. The affected individuals’ global beliefs and situational meaning may differ from the perceptions of the public leader who provides support.


Meaning making by public leaders in times of crisis: An assessment
Article in Public Relations Review - Sep 2017

Public leaders are expected to provide information on a crisis situation and present a plan to restore a state of normalcy. This study, based on interviews with Dutch mayors who were personally involved in crises between 1979 and 2014, assesses the various roles of public leaders’ meaning making. A total of 94 case studies were analyzed for this purpose. Responsibility and collective impact turn out to be closely intertwined phenomena, which influence the modus operandi as a public leader as perceived by the mayors themselves. The Public Meaning Making Model presented, shows four distinctive roles based on the meaning making by Dutch mayors: the roles of ‘mourner-in-chief’, ‘orchestrator’, ‘advocate’ and ‘buddy’. All of these roles emphasize different elements that depend on the collective, emotional impact of a situation as well as on the political responsibility attributed to the public leader. This article discusses the characteristics and implications of each of the four roles.

The full supplement with interviews of Dutch mayors regarding experiences from 1979-2014 can be downloaded here. The article itself can be retrieved from Researchgate.


Crisis Leadership by Mayors: A Qualitative Content Analysis of Newspapers and Social Media on the MH17 Disaster

Article in Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management · Aug 2016
DOI: 10.1111/1468-5973.12124

Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 crashed in the Ukraine on 17 July 2014 with 193 Dutch passengers on board. The present study assessed which MH17-related activities (or absence of certain activities) of 54 mayors from the Netherlands were mentioned in (social) media and if and how they were evaluated. Analyses of newspaper articles and social media showed that public ‘meaning making’ and ‘remembering’ by mayors can be considered as a table stake or conditio sine qua non. Mayors are expected to speak at memorials and attend community activities. Strong appreciation was however retrieved from victims’ families whenever mayors visited them with a listening ear in the privacy of their homes, demonstrating the role mayors can fulfil as mourners-in-chief in local communities.

Click here to download article. The raw datafiles (tweets and newspaper articles), including a complete list of all identified and processed newspapers articles and tweets (In Dutch), including the codings of the identified articles and tweets, can be obtained from the first author.


Self-correcting mechanisms and echo-effects in social media: An analysis of the “gunman in the newsroom” crisis

Article in Computers in Human Behavior 59:334-341 · June 2016
DOI: 10.1016/j.chb.2016.02.032

The positive and negative effects of social media in crises are currently receiving an increased amount of scholarly attention. This study focuses on Twitter users in the context of a crisis in the Netherlands on January 29, 2015. After having made a bomb threat, an armed man managed to get access to the national news broadcasting station around 8 pm, where he demanded airplay to share “an important message” with Dutch citizens. Three weeks after the terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo in Paris, approximately 1.5 million viewers were anxious that a similar attack was taking place in the television studio. The crisis, also followed by social media users, reached a climax when armed policemen arrested the man, which was later shown on national TV. We analyzed 58,931 tweets, posted in the six hours after the incident. By examining shared facts and rumors during the gunman crisis, we identified an “echo-effect”: the dissemination of older tweets continued after the posting of new facts by the same source. Moreover, we found that two rumors were based on misinterpreted humor in Twitter messages. The study adds insight into the self-correcting mechanism of social media communities when verifying and dispelling online rumors during crises.

Click here to download article. The raw datafile can be downloaded here.


Leadership of Mayors and Governors during Crises: A Systematic Review on Tasks and Effectiveness

Article in Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management 24(1) · March 2016
DOI: 10.1111/1468-5973.12091

The aim of this article is to provide a systematic review of peer-reviewed literature on leadership tasks and effectiveness of mayors and governors during drastic collective events. A total of 34 peer-reviewed articles met our criteria. They were analysed using the theoretical framework by Boin on leadership tasks, i.e., sense making, decision making, meaning making, terminating, and learning. Studies ranged from minor incidents like local riots, to the events of 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina. The material turned out to be dominated by Western and American studies. Because of limitations in the empirical and knowledge base of the studies, it is difficult to draw general conclusions on what is supposed to be effective leadership by mayors and/or governors in these circumstances.

Click here to download article.

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