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Abstract

Recent crises in the agricultural sector, such as the 2011 German dioxin scandal and deaths from EHEC or the last swine fever outbreak in Germany in 2006, have caused immense economic damage. As a result, German veterinary authorities at the district, state, and federal levels have been put in charge as crisis managers and leaders of active preventative organizations. To perform their tasks successfully, they require effective communication skills as well as close cooperation with stakeholders in the agribusiness sector. However, despite clear evidence that identifies these relationships as crucial, there is only very little research that directly addresses communication quality and intensity of public authorities responsible for food safety. The relevant literature so far primarily deals with the technical design and implementation of new information and communication systems. However, it often fails to address the particular needs and communication behaviour of individual users. It is the objective of this study to identify determinants of communication quality and to differentiate between types of communicators in order to shed light on the construct of communication behaviour in veterinary authorities. To do so, the determinants of the quality of communication between public authorities and their external stakeholders were identified based on a causal model. These determinants were used as cluster-building variables in a cluster analysis to determine different types of communicators in veterinary services.

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