Rectification without assuming responsibility
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The purpose of this thesis was to help explain the crisis response strategies that Merck used in communicating its corporate messages in the first four-and-a-half months immediately following the Vioxx recall and how the media responded in their coverage. Coombs’ (1995) repertoire of crisis response strategies was tested to observe if Merck’s outgoing corporate messages included both mortification and ingratiation strategies, as prescribed by Coombs’ (1995) Transgression Decision Flow Chart. Merck used both mortification and ingratiation in its crisis management. The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal reported dominant strategies largely similarly. It was concluded that Coombs’ (1995) repertoire does not allow for corporate statements that employ rectification without assuming responsibility and an additional strategy – “rectification without assuming responsibility” – is recommended for a re-conceptualized flow chart repertoire.