Strategic communication at the organizational frontline : Towards a better understanding of employees as communicators
Abstract: The idea of employees as important (strategic) communicators has emerged in both strategic communication theory and practice during the 21st century. Researchers increasingly urge managers to consider employees as important communicators, and employees’ communication role is increasingly formalized as organizations explicate the importance of all employees taking responsibility for communication in strategies and policies. However, while researchers and practitioners agree on the importance of employees’ communication role, the understanding of it is still heavily influenced by idealistic thinking of employees as organizational embodiments of a management driven idea of what the organization is.This thesis problematizes this idea and aims to contribute knowledge to improve and broaden our understanding of employees as communicators by empirically investigating the employee communication role and communication responsibility. Article one and article two investigate how the employee communication role has emerged. These articles contribute a more profound understanding of the emergence of the phenomenon. Article three introduces the concept employee communication responsibility and investigates factors influencing employees’ predisposition towards taking communication responsibility. Article four investigates how employees relate to and experience ambassadorship to contribute a more profound understanding of theemployee communication role from an employee-perspective. Finally, article five investigates the employees’ communicative practice through which they accomplish a collective enactment of the organization in interactions with external stakeholders.The thesis provides a more profound understanding of employees as communicators by investigating: 1) why the employee communication role and communication responsibility are increasingly emphasized and explicated by organizations, 2) which internal communication-factors influence employees’ predisposition towards taking communication responsibility and thereby enacting the various communication roles, employees’ attitudes towards communication, and 3) their experience of the communication role and their enactment of it. Through explicating the phenomenon, the knowledge contributes to challenge widespread idealistic thinking of employees’ communication role by improving and broadening our understanding of it, as well as its more problematic consequences.
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