Chemical Manufacturing and Refining Industry Legitimacy: Reflective Management, Trust, Precrisis Communication to Achieve Community Efficacy

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Abstract

Calls for emergency right-to-know in the 1980s, and, in the 1990s, risk management planning, motivated U.S. chemical manufacturing and refining industries to operationalize a three-pronged approach to risk minimization and communication: reflective management to increase legitimacy, operational safety programs to raise trust, and community engagement designed to facilitate citizens' emergency response efficacy. To assess these management, operational, and communication initiatives, communities (often through Local Emergency Planning Committees) monitored the impact of such programs. In 2012, the fourth phase of a quasi-longitudinal study was conducted to assess the effectiveness of operational change and community outreach in one bellwether community. This study focuses on legitimacy, trust, and response efficacy to suggest that an industry can earn legitimacy credits by raising its safety and environmental impact standards, by building trust via that change, and by communicating emergency response messages to near residents to raise their response efficacy. As part of its campaign to demonstrate its concern for community safety through research, planning, and implementation of safe operations and viable emergency response systems, this industry uses a simple narrative of risk/emergency response—shelter-in-place—communicated by a spokes-character: Wally Wise Guy.

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