It is now common practice for corporate leaders to offer a public apology during a crisis when the organization is deemed responsible for the negative event. These are collective apologies as the ‘corporation’ apologies to its many stakeholders. A variety of research suggests that public apologies are an effective way to repair damaged corporate reputations after a crisis. Commentators have suggested that corporate apologies are now a ritual, something managers automatically enact when there is a crisis.
This chapter begins by explaining why corporate apologies have proven valuable in crisis communication. The evidence that supports the corporate value of public apologies is reviewed. The focus then shifts to the emerging view that corporate apologies are becoming rituals. Some critics argue that by becoming a ritual, corporate apologies lose much of their positive effects on post-crisis reputations. The last section explores the implications of ritualized corporate apologies in terms of effectiveness. Narrative is used as a framework to explain how corporate apologies as rituals still can have a positive effect on post-crisis reputations.