LEVERAGING A RECESSIVE NARRATIVE TO TRANSFORM JOE PATERNO’S IMAGE: MEDIA SENSEBREAKING, SENSEMAKING, AND SENSEGIVING DURING SCANDAL

Derron G. Bishop, Linda Klebe Treviño, Dennis A. Gioia, Glen E. Kreiner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations

Abstract

Image is an important individual and organizational resource. In the modern era, image is vulnerable to rapid transformation because the media, a powerful social arbiter, exerts a strong influence on image construction processes. To better understand these pro-cesses, we analyzed media accounts concerning Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno in the immediate aftermath of the Jerry Sandusky scandal at the university. For decades, the media had portrayed Paterno as a moral beacon who personified “success with honor.” When the Sandusky scandal erupted, however, the media rapidly (within 5 days) transformed Paterno’s image from moral beacon to moral disgrace. Our findings identify key media sensebreaking, sensemaking, and sensegiving processes that help to explain how this swift media image transformation occurred, and we discuss theoretical and practical implications for organizations and for prominent figures associated with them. Especially distinctive is a finding that the media leveraged a preexisting negative recessive narrative into a dominant narrative to quickly and dramatically transform image.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)572-608
Number of pages37
JournalAcademy of Management Discoveries
Volume6
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Business and International Management
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Strategy and Management
  • Industrial relations

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