Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Rhetoric, Theory and Culture (PhD)

Administrative Home Department

Department of Humanities

Advisor 1

Patricia Sotirin

Committee Member 1

Beatrice Smith

Committee Member 2

Ramon Fonkoue

Committee Member 3

Kari Henquinet


This dissertation amends the Crisis Renewal Model of corporate rhetoric based on analyses of two multinational organizational crises in Nigeria and Cameroon. The Renewal model revises the dominant apologia model of corporate crisis rhetoric to focus on strengthening relationships with stakeholders following a crisis rather than solely on repairing or restoring reputation. Yet while the renewal model redresses the classic Aristotelian premises of apologia, the Nigerian and Cameroonian situations call for a significant reframing of rhetorical strategies in response to the colonialist legacies, cultural traditions, political volatilities, and socioeconomic particularities of these contexts. The research questions driving the dissertation are: What are the limitations of the Crisis Renewal model for multinationals operating in West African countries? How can this model be amended based on African communication principles? Data about the cases came from newspapers, company documents, and local and international NGO reports, and radio texts generated from LexisNexis. The data for Shell in Nigeria spans 1993-2016 while the data for Herakles Farms in Cameroon spans 2009-2016. The analyses found that both apologia and renewal were evident in corporate rhetoric produced by Shell and Herakles Farms; nonetheless, their respective crises damaged corporate reputation and stakeholder relationships. Drawing from lessons learned in these cases in West Africa, I turn to African communication concepts of communality and hybridity to rethink the Western premises of the Crisis Renewal model, particularly dimensions of ethical leadership, prospective vision, and organizational learning and build on Spivak’s arguments in “Can the Subaltern Speak?” and Kraidy’s notion of hybridity. I propose a concept I call responsive hybridity to modify the Crisis Renewal model. Responsive hybridity reframes renewal as a creative self-reflexive process producing hybrid forms, relationships, and practices.