The State of Crisis Communication Research and Education Through the Lens of Crisis Scholars: An International Delphi Study

Abstract: This Delphi study explores the status of crisis communication research and education qualitatively through the lens of 22 internationally recognized crisis communication scholars, systematically recruited and retained to serve on the crisis expert Delphi panel in a two-year span. Taking a multi-iteration consensus-building approach, this study enabled the expert panel to individually elaborate and collectively evaluate shared observations and insights regarding trends, patterns, and nuances in crisis communication as a unique interdisciplinary area of research and practice. The quality and impact of current scholarship, methodological rigor and diversity, and perceived knowledge gaps between academia and industry were compared and synthesized across countries. Consensus was achieved in the majority of the proposed questions. Results show challenges and particular deficiencies within the crisis communication research domain. The main challenge is bridging the gap between academia and industry. The lack of theory development and cross-cultural studies contribute to part of this challenge. The knowledge and perceptual gaps identified by our Delphi expert panel also suggest a need to align crisis communication academic research more closely with crisis communication teaching. Despite the increasingly broadened presence of crisis communication scholarship, it remains small and stunted at some universities. The discussions and insights that emerged in this Delphi study help pave the way for further research innovation and educational program development in crisis communication.