The public versus private nature of organizations influences their goals, processes, and employee values. However, existing studies have not analyzed whether and how the public nature of organizations shapes their responses to concrete social pressures. This article takes a first step toward addressing this gap by comparing the communication strategies of public organizations and businesses in response to large-scale social protests. Specifically, we conceptualize, theorize, and empirically analyze the communication strategies of 100 organizations in response to large-scale social protests that took place in Israel during 2011. We find that in response to these protests, public organizations tended to employ a “positive-visibility” strategy, whereas businesses were inclined to keep a “low public profile.” We associate these different communication strategies with the relatively benign consequences of large-scale social protests for public organizations compared with their high costs for businesses.
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