Article

Self-censorship on Internal Social Media: A Case Study of Coworker Communication Behavior in a Danish Bank

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Abstract

Internal social media (ISM) or social intranets provide organizations with a communication arena in which coworkers can actively contribute to organizational communication. Coworkers are, however, far from impulsive and spontaneous when they communicate on ISM. A case study in a Danish bank found that coworkers considered carefully the consequences of their posts or comments before publishing them. These coworkers perceived four different risks associated with ISM communication, and they used seven self-censorship strategies to ensure that both the content and the formulation of their communication were relevant and appropriate. Coworkers not only censor themselves by withdrawing, as previous studies have suggested, but they also postpone publishing content, phrase or frame content differently, imagine responses from organizational members, ask others for a second opinion, choose another channel, or write only positive comments. Through these seven self-censorship strategies, coworkers retain the quality of communication on ISM and prevent conflict or relational damage. Future research should explore the self-regulation strategies underlying self-censorship in order to improve understanding of the circumstances that increase the likelihood of responsible use of ISM. The potential dark side of self-censorship also requires exploration: when can self-censorship threaten coworkers’ freedom of expression, and develop into organizational silence?

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... However, there is also an urge to protect the group and self from negative repercussions of sharing information. Self-censorship can be used as a protective mechanism to avoid personal distress, isolation, rejection, and to preserve selfimage (Bar-Tal, 2017;Hayes et al., 2006;Madsen & Verhoeven, 2016;Pain & Korin, 2020). Choosing to self-censor when potential conflict is perceived is a method to preserve relationships. ...
... FNT explains that stronger face concerns (self, mutual, or other) are concerned with protecting the self-image or feelings of communicators (Ting-Toomey, 2005). Self-censorship of opinions is a behavior engaged in to avoid self-perceived social risk for one's self or others (Madsen & Verhoeven, 2016). Therefore, it is anticipated that the stronger sense of face someone has, the more they would wish to avoid sharing opinions that could lead to embarrassment or potential conflict, and therefore the higher their willingness to self-censor will be with their supervisor. ...
... Face concerns result in face work, which are behaviors strategically used to protect the face of the individual of concern. Self-censoring often happens when an individual perceives that their words could create a risk of embarrassing themselves or upsetting the person they are talking to (Madsen & Verhoeven, 2016). As such, self-censoring can be an output of having strong face concerns. ...
Article
The face concerns a person holds dictates how they will approach conflict in the workplace. The present study sought to understand how these conflict orientations ultimately affected subordinate burnout. The data were consistent with a model in which self-face and mutual-face concerns affected employee burnout through the mediation of their job satisfaction and their willingness to self-censor communication with their supervisor. Most notably, self-face concerns were negatively associated with job satisfaction while mutual-face concerns were positively related to job satisfaction.
... Employees' active communication behaviors are strategic, in the sense that employees use them purposefully (Mazzei, 2010). Employees can promote organizational aims (Hallahan et al., 2007), but their communication is also often aimed at obtaining personal gains, such as personal branding (Lee & Kim, 2020;Madsen & Verhoeven, 2016), the attainment of power and influence, and career advancement (Valentini, 2010). Employees can thus strive to increase their visibility, and distinguish themselves from competitors on the job market by undertaking extra-role communication activities. ...
... They can build up a strong personal profile when they promote the organization on social media, enhancing their personal network at the same time. Their communication becomes part of their personal branding strategy, and in this way, they can hope to improve their perceived value as employees (Madsen & Verhoeven, 2016). ...
... In other words, through conversations and story exchanges, employees 'talk the organization into being' (Clifton, 2012): they construct organizational identities and structures through their communication. Organizations can facilitate these exchanges by offering platforms such as internal social media (Madsen & Verhoeven, 2016), or by organizing events such as townhall meetings to facilitate participative decision making. However, these exchanges may also occur in an unplanned way, through informal encounters. ...
Preprint
Several scholars have pointed out the importance of employees' strategic communication behaviors for organizational performance and employee wellbeing. Employees contribute to organizations by acting as brand ambassadors , boundary spanners and crisis communicators. Employees play such roles on top of assigned job tasks, which can lead to role overload, role conflicts and job stress. The analysis of employees' communication role enactment is hampered by the lack of a framework describing the complete range of active communication roles that employees are expected to play in the workplace. This article introduces the Active Employee Communication Roles Framework (AECR Framework), develops the conceptualization of eight communication roles, and discusses implications for strategic communication. The first four roles-the embodier, promotor, defender, and relationship builder role-describe ambassador roles. In addition, employees play the roles of scout, sensemaker, innovator, and critic to contribute to organizational development. The AECR framework provides a new lens which aids our understanding of the relationship between communication, and employee performance and wellbeing, and provides employees and employers a tool to analyze and calibrate mutual expectations regarding communication behaviors. The framework can also help employees to more strategically allocate resources when executing the various communication roles. This may help to alleviate employee role stress, and create healthier workplaces.
... A growing number of studies have pointed out that knowledge sharing, collaboration, increased employee engagement, and organizational democracy are not easily achieved, even if the organizational context supports communication. ISM forms a complex communication arena with many voices acting and communicating, and more recent studies (Baptista, Wilson, Galliers, & Bynghall, 2017;Madsen & Verhoeven, 2016) have tried to understand this complexity. They have explored coworker communication behavior, what happens in the interactions between coworkers in an arena based on a CCO (the communicative constitution of organizations) understanding, and the consequences of participatory communication, such as engagement and more democratized forms of strategy making. ...
... According to the theory of imagined audiences, on social media different audiences collapse into one (Marwick & boyd, 2011), and employees have to imagine the audience they are communicating with. Madsen and Verhoeven (2016) found that, in an organizational context, coworkers are likely to take cues both from the ISM environment and from the organization as they imagine whom they are talking to and how the audience will respond to what they are saying. In this way, the imagined audiences are socially constructed by the choices that employees make about how and what to write. ...
... They will try to balance organizational and personal needs, so that they both help the organization and present a desirable image of themselves. Madsen and Verhoeven (2016) also found that coworkers perceived four risks in entering the ISM arena: the risks of providing low-quality content and comments, of harming their personal reputation, of violating unwritten norms and rules, and of being on the receiving end of comments and reactions from coworkers and managers. These four risks led them to apply seven self-censorship strategies which transformed them into strategic and reflective communicators. ...
Article
Internal social media (ISM) is a web‐based communication arena that provides all members of organizations with a communication opportunity. ISM has emerged in organizations since 2004, and is increasingly seen as a way of giving employees a voice that can benefit their organization in terms of knowledge sharing, collaboration, and employee participation and engagement. The first wave of studies of ISM was primarily from an information‐systems perspective and focused more on ISM's adoption, its affordances, and the outcome of its introduction. The second wave of studies was more concerned with studying the dynamics of communication on ISM, in order to understand coworkers as strategic communicators and how communication on ISM can constitute the organization. With the successful introduction of ISM, coworkers can become co‐authors of organizations, so the media offers new challenges and opportunities for internal strategic communication.
... INTRODUCTION employees in post-bureaucratic organizations have been acknowledged by researchers (Heide & Simonsson, 2011;Madsen & Verhoeven, 2016;Pekkala & Luoma-aho, 2017;van Zoonen, Verhoeven, & Vliegenthart, 2017); yet, they are still poorly conceptualized. No overview has been developed of what these changing roles entail specifically for employees. ...
... However, employees' motives for sharing information and developing ideas do spring not only out of their identification with the organization, but also out of impression formation motives. Research so far has found that employees behave strategically when they communicate and share knowledge on internal social media (Gibbs, Rozaidi, & Eisenberg, 2013;Madsen & Verhoeven, 2016;Treem & Leonardi, 2013). They carefully craft impressions of themselves as experts (Treem & Leonardi, 2013), and they manage the tensions they experience when they communicate, by both preserving openness and ambiguity (Gibbs et al., 2013). ...
... Dreher (2014) Employees as ambassadors Encourage employees to retweet/share corporate content rather than that they develop own messages Opgenhaffen and Claeys (2017) Anonymous online dissenters Employees can reveal issues about the organization as either an act of prosocial behaviour or an act of revenge. Can be framed honestly or fabricated Ravazzani and Mazzei (2018) Strategic communicators Employees strategically manage tensions on internal social media to preserve both openness and ambiguity Gibbs et al. (2013), Madsen and Verhoeven (2016) Sensemakers ...
... "Individuals practice self-censorship for reasons of self-interest to avoid external negative sanctions and gain positive ones" (Bar-Tal, 2017, p. 9). Research suggests that self-censorship is motivated by perceived risks, such that someone perceives that they are putting themselves in social jeopardy if they disclose certain information, be it opinion or factual observation (Madsen & Verhoeven, 2016). This notion of perceived risks is prevalent in most of the work covering self-censorship in the workplace and within workplace communication (e.g., Adamska, 2017;Detert & Edmondson, 2011;Madsen & Verhoeven, 2016). ...
... Research suggests that self-censorship is motivated by perceived risks, such that someone perceives that they are putting themselves in social jeopardy if they disclose certain information, be it opinion or factual observation (Madsen & Verhoeven, 2016). This notion of perceived risks is prevalent in most of the work covering self-censorship in the workplace and within workplace communication (e.g., Adamska, 2017;Detert & Edmondson, 2011;Madsen & Verhoeven, 2016). This perceived risk is often legitimate and can be especially high when the disclosure happens across power dynamics. ...
Article
Through the guidance of construal level theory, this paper tested a model in which supervisor computer-mediated immediate behaviors indirectly increased subordinates’ relational maintenance communication at work and decreased their self-censoring behaviors in the presence of their supervisor. The influence of supervisor computer-mediated immediate behaviors was mediated through the affective construal variable of job satisfaction and the psychological construal variable of perceived immediacy. Results indicate that even in the virtual workplace, strategic use of supervisor communicative behaviors can promote healthy workplace communication practices for subordinates.
... The content posted on social media may stay there even though a person changes workplaces over time (McFarland and Ployhart, 2015), and employees have become increasingly aware that employers monitor their past and present social media use (Hurrell et al., 2017). Therefore, when employees communicate about their work through their personal profiles in social media, they continuously think about who they are representing (Madsen, 2016;Madsen and Verhoeven, 2016). "Whereas in the past people could have a separate identity in their free time and 'be' the organisation during work time, they now represent their organisation all the time" (Siegert and L€ owstedt, 2019, p. 33). ...
... Helm, 2013), and that "employees are influenced by how they and others perceive their employer, and in turn, they may contribute to their employer's good name by displaying reputable behavior" (Schaarschmidt and Walsh, 2020, p. 719). Empirical findings show that while employees desire to be seen as knowledgeable professionals who benefit the organization, they also simultaneously consider their selfpromotion and self-protection (Madsen and Verhoeven, 2016). This is particularly pertinent as recent studies affirm that employees' work-related social media use is associated with employability and maintained employment (Khedler, 2019). ...
Article
Full-text available
Purpose – This study focuses on managers’ perceptions of employees’ communicative role in social media, and explores the changes in the contractual nature of employment relations in mediatized workplaces in which the boundaries of professional and private life are becoming more fluid. Design/methodology/approach – A qualitative approach was employed to explore this relatively new phenomenon. The data, comprising 24 interviews with managers responsible for corporate communication and human resources in knowledge-intensive organizations, was thematically analysed. Findings – The analysis shows that employees’ work-related social media use creates new types of exchanges and dependencies between an organization and individual employees, which relate to employees’ representation, knowledge and networks. Originality/value – The study is among the first to examine the exchanges and dependencies in an employment relationship that emerge from increased use of social media for professional purposes. Keywords Social media, Psychological contract, Knowledge work, Employment relationship, Employees’ communication behaviour Paper type Research paper
... This empowerment of coworkers is viewed as a key to employee engagement (Koch et al., 2012;Mazzei, 2014;Parry and Solidoro, 2013;Ruck, 2015;Welch, 2012) which has been found to benefit an organization in several ways. The organization can enhance workplace productivity (Leftheriotis and Giannakos, 2014), provide better customer service (Men and Bowen, 2016;Ruck, 2015), cause coworkers to display organizational citizen behavior (Madsen and Verhoeven, 2016) and create a sense of community in the organization (Uysal, 2016). ...
... Coworkers must perceive that they are able to speak freely. Communication on ISM will not develop in the same way as on public social media since coworker self-censorship influences coworkers to contribute in a constructive manner in an organizational context (Madsen and Verhoeven, 2016). ...
Article
Abstract Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore whether internal socialmedia (ISM) introduces a new kind of participatory communication within organizations that is capable of influencing and moving the organization. Design/methodology/approach – The paper is based on two exploratory studies: a multiple case study in ten Danish organizations, and a single case study in a Danish bank. Findings – The paper finds that different types of communication on ISM develop in different types of organizations. Participatory communication capable of changing the organization only develops when coworkers perceive that they have a license to critique. The paper, therefore, proposes to distinguish between three different types of communication arenas created by ISM: a quiet arena, a knowledge-sharing arena and a participatory communication arena. Research limitations/implications – The research is exploratory and based on two Danish case studies and the perceptions of coworkers and social media coordinators. A deeper, summative analysis of ISM across more and various organizations in multiple countries has to confirm the findings. Originality/value – The paper conceptualizes ISM as an interactive and dynamic communication arena, and proposes that the participatory communication on ISM is a co-constructed process among coworkers, middle managers and top managers. Keywords Participatory communication, Internal communication, Employee communication, Internal social media, Enterprise social media, Social intranet Paper type Research paper
... Seriously Speaking] in P1 July 21, 2018. 24 Macnamara (2016b) 25 Drucker (1990, p. 184) 26 Habermas (1995) 27 Deetz (1992) Bark and Heide (2002) 9 Simonsson (2006) 10 Heide (2015) 11 Madsen and Verhoeven (2016) 12 Zerfass, Tench, Verhoeven, Verčič, and Moreno (2018) 13 Heide and Simonsson (2011) 14 Pilkington (2016) 15 Grunig and Hunt (1984, p. 92) 16 Falkheimer et al. (2017), Falkheimer, Heide, Simonsson, Zerfass, and, Zerfass, Verčič, and Volk (2017), Volk (2018) 17 Falkheimer et al. (2017), Heide (2017) 18 Mykkänen (2017) 19 Watzlawick, Beavin, and Jackson (1967, p. 1) 20 Cornelissen (2011) 21 Tench, Verčič, Zerfass, Moreno, and Verhoeven (2017 22 Brønn (2014), Zerfass, Tench, Verčič, Verhoeven, and Moreno (2017) 23 Cyert and March (1963) 24 Bowen (2009) 25 Bowen (2015 26 Grunig, Grunig, and Dozier (2002) 27 Volk et al. (2017) 28 Grunig, Grunig, and Dozier (2006) 29 White and Dozier (1992) (2014) 2 Bark (1997), Bark and Heide (2002) 3 Heide (2015) 4 Bark (2002) 5 Schön (1973) 6 White, Vanc, andStafford (2010) 7 Men (2014) 8 Compare Heide (2015) 9 Madsen (2018) 10 Compare Heide (1997) 11 Compare Young and Hinesly (2014) 12 Heide (2017) 13 Omilion-Hodges and Baker (2014) 14 Compare Heide (2002) 15 Madsen (2018) 16 Madsen (2018) ...
... 19 Dreher (2014), Flynn (2012) 20 Linke and Zerfass (2011) 21 Madsen and Verhoeven (2016) 22 Madsen (2018) 6 Zerfass, Tench et al. (2018) 7 https://sverigeskommunikatorer.se/nyheter/hur-paverkas-kommunikatorer-av-artificiellintelligens/ 8 https://sverigeskommunikatorer.se/nyheter/hur-paverkas-kommunikatorer-av-artificiellintelligens/ 9 Institutet för stressmedicin (2018) 10 Hultberg (2018) 11 Hultberg (2018) 12 Simon (1957) 13 Weick (1969Weick ( , 1979Weick ( , 1995 14 Zerfass, Volk, Lautenbach, and Jakubowitz (2018) 15 Brunsson (1982) 16 Weick (1979) 17 Weick (1984) 18 Weick (1984) ...
... opportunity to address issues that they would not otherwise have addressed (Madsen and Verhoeven, 2016;Fägersten, 2015). Through ISM, employees may gain support from coworkers who either comment on or 'like' their entry. ...
... Finally, the use of rhetorical tactics such as humor, illustrative examples and metaphors indicates that employees devoted time to craft their entries and comments. In other words, the visibility and persistence of ISM communication prompted employees in Jyske Bank to behave in a reflective and strategic way when communicating on ISM (Madsen and Verhoeven, 2016). They deliberately used discursive tactics to move issues from the operational to the strategic level so that their coworkers and managers would react to their posts. ...
Article
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to explore the discursive tactics that employees use when they speak up on internal social media (ISM) to gain support for their cause, and how this can develop into a “spiral of voice” when organizational members interact with each other on ISM. Design/methodology/approach The study is based on screenshots of four months of coworker communication on ISM in a Danish bank and on semi-structured interviews with 24 employees. Findings Employees succeeded in speaking up and gaining support on ISM by using eight different discursive tactics. These tactics helped move organizational issues from an operational to a strategic level, thus making the issues relevant for management as well as gaining the support of other coworkers. The visibility and persistence of communication on ISM forced managers to react. Research limitations/implications Further research should investigate whether similar tactics and reactions occur in organizations with a less open communication culture where it might be less safe for employees to speak up. Practical implications Organizations need to be aware of the dynamics of the “spiral of voice” and of the way in which the visibility and persistence of communication on ISM forces managers to handle organizational issues. Originality/value This study is the first to explore what happens when employees speak up on ISM and to propose the concept of “a spiral of voice” as an extension of the theory of “the spiral of silence” (Noelle-Neumann, 1974).
... They usually consider what they write carefully to avoid irking imagined audiences, damaging their own self-presentation, violating unwritten rules, or facing a storm of comments from other coworkers. Self-censorship was therefore found to be a central dynamic of coworkers' communication on internal organizational social media networks (Madsen & Verhoeven, 2016). ...
Article
The approach of context collapse and the notion of unintentional context collisions are of importance to scholars of social media. Israeli public hospitals are a particularly suitable venue for studying these topics, as they employ both Jewish and Arab practitioners, who care for both Jewish and Arab patients amid an ongoing violent conflict. In-depth interviews were conducted with 50 managers and healthcare practitioners (physicians and nurses), both Jewish and Arab, employed at 11 public hospitals in Israel. We found that despite hospitals managements’ instructions to avoid political discourse, it erupts nonetheless whenever the conflict escalates. Fearing damage to professional relations and care of patients, political discourse spills over into social media, where political opinions are expressed mostly by Arab practitioners and stereotypical attitudes against Arabs are expressed mostly by Jewish ones. Our study exemplifies the usefulness of the context collapse approach—and specifically unintentional context collisions—to work organizations and all the more so to healthcare organizations.
... As the communication responsibility of employees is receiving increasing attention from researchers arguing that new media changes the prerequisites for organizations and increases the demand for organizational members to take responsibility for communication (Gulbrandsen & Just, 2016a), and that all organizational members need to take responsibility for effective communication (Heide & Simonsson, 2011;Mazzei, 2014;Zerfass & Franke, 2013), this study is a timely contribution providing knowledge about factors that influence employees predisposition towards taking communication responsibility. It adds to the growing body of research interested in the communication of employees and complements and confirms previous research arguing for the importance of considering internal communication enablement strategies for turning employees into strategic communicators (Mazzei, 2014), studying the communication behavior of employees offline and online (Kang & Sung, 2017;Kim & Rhee, 2011;Madsen & Verhoeven, 2016), and arguing for the importance of increasing employees awareness about communication and to educate and counsel them to improve their communication skills (Heide & Simonsson, 2011;Zerfass & Franke, 2013). These studies have directed attention towards the importance of considering and including employees in the strategic communication management of organizations, and especially how interlinked internal and external communication are. ...
Article
Full-text available
Although organizations increasingly acknowledge the communicative importance of employees, and increasingly frame communication as an employee responsibility, communication responsibility remains an unexplored topic in strategic communication research. To address this gap, this study introduces the concept employee communication responsibility and offers insight into factors influencing employees’ predisposition towards taking communication responsibility. Data were obtained from 4,726 employees working in ten Swedish organizations. Half the sample (2,244) was used for exploratory factor analysis that enabled the identification of a smaller number of factors to construct a model with four hypotheses, and half the sample (2,482) was used to test the proposed model through structural equation modeling (SEM). Hypotheses formulation was informed by previous research examining factors influencing employees’ communication. The study shows that all tested factors, internal communication climate openness, immediate supervisor communication, top management–employee communication, and perceived importance of communication significantly contribute to employees’ predisposition towards taking communication responsibility. Thus, the study provide knowledge useful to researchers interested in employees’ communication, and to strategic communication practitioners responsible for internal communication and employees’ communication.
... Empowering employees and identifying employee social advocates Essentially, internal social media are developed for employees and used by employees (Men & Bowen, 2017). However, an obstacle is that employees tend to engage in self-censorship when it comes to social posting inside organizations (Madsen & Verhoeven, 2016) for fear of posting lowquality comments or getting judgment from peers or supervisors. Many of the interviewees in this study recognized the need to empower, encourage, involve employees to use internal social media, such as identifying employee social media advocates, who are tech-savvy and innovative to be the leading social voices. ...
Article
The growth of social media in organizations is reshaping internal communication strategy. This article explores the value of internal social media with a focus on employee engagement, which is defined as employees who are connected to the values and mission of the company, feel empowered, bring energy, passion, and discretionary effort to their jobs, and serve as advocates. Interviews were conducted with 27 senior-level internal communication practitioners working for global companies. Practitioners said they use a variety of communication channels, including social media, to drive employee engagement. The findings revealed best practices in using internal social media to engage employees, including providing clear social media policies and employee training; empowering employee social advocates; involving leadership and securing endorsement; social media listening; sharable, relevant, and practical content strategies; and, authenticity and consistency. Future trends and evolvement of internal communication around social media are also discussed.
... In fact, research indicates that censorship is a global phenomenon in social media, at least with respect to self-censorship: Madsen and Verhoeven (2016) found that coworkers of a Danish bank did not only censor themselves by withdrawing, "but they also postpone publishing content, phrase or frame content differently, imagine responses from organizational members, ask others for a second opinion, choose another channel, or write only positive comments" (p. 387). ...
Article
Full-text available
Facebook started as a platform intended for connecting people but it has developed into a rich information source. Based on the uses-and-gratification approach, we examined to what extent censorship endorsement and personality factors can explain information seeking behavior on Facebook. 1525 German-speaking Facebook users participated in a cross-sectional survey. Censorship endorsement, three personality traits (extraversion, neuroticism, and openness), age, and gender served as predictors in blockwise regression models. Participants’ information seeking behavior on Facebook served as the criterion variable, whereby we examined different behavioral strategies. Overall, the extent of one’s endorsement of censorship was positively and reliably related to different facets of information seeking. Apparently, censorship might be considered a protection measure to establish a decent communication and information space. In contrast, personality traits were inconsistently related to different facets of information seeking. Extraversion and neuroticism were positively related to information seeking in general, but their impact was absent on some subscales. The effects of age and gender differed from what has been found in previous studies. Overall, the results highlight the necessity of a more differentiated perspective on social media use, provide implications for uses-and-gratification research in the context of social media, and indicate interesting venues for future research by incorporating censorship attitude as a hitherto neglected factor.
... One possible explanation is that the length of the negative employee messages given to the participants in this study may have affected the results. Employees tend to avoid disclosing information about their organizations via social media and act rather passively, because a social media usage policy prevents them from doing so (Sánchez Abril, Levin, & Del Riego, 2012) or due to perceived risks (Smith, Stumberger, Guild, & Dugan, 2017) or self-censorship strategies in presence in social media (Madsen & Verhoeven, 2016). In contrast, given that virtually all employees find themselves produce, hear, or participate in conversations about their organization (i.e., gossip; Kuo, Chang, Quinton, Lu, & Lee, 2015), it is plausible that negative messages shared during face-to-face interaction may have higher credibility than those shared via social media. ...
Article
Full-text available
This study examines how employees’ messages about a corporate crisis affect external publics’ attitudes and behaviors toward an organization. Specifically, the study investigates whether the valence (positive vs. negative) and communication channels (face-to-face vs. social media) of employees’ messages interact with each other. The results of an online experiment indicate that negative messages concerning an organizational crisis significantly affect publics’ perception of message credibility, behavioral forgiveness, and message retransmission intentions when the messages were delivered during face-to-face communication, while negative messages on social media do not significantly affect publics’ attitudes and behaviors. Positive messages had almost equal impacts on the outcomes, regardless of the communication channels through which the message was shared. Theoretical and practical implications for corporate and business communication are discussed.
... As previously mentioned, a growing sub-branch of investigations into employees' communication behavior is their communication behavior on social media. In their studies on employees' communication behavior on internal social media (ISM) platforms, Madsen (2016) and Madsen and Verhoeven (2016) showed that employees actively contribute to constituting the organizational identity, and that they, through self-censoring strategies, improve the quality of their communication. Additionally, from a managerial perspective, Madsen (2017) identified four challenges when introducing internal social media, such as a lack of employee' understanding, employee self-censorship, that social media were not part of employees' daily routines, and that managers supported ISM in words but not in action. ...
Thesis
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 the employee 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.
... Individuals tend to disclose information about themselves with a sense of how they are presented to others (Goffman, 1959). According to previous research, people consider the consequences of their posts or comments before publishing on social media, and thus they engage in internal social media communication strategically after ensuring the contents are relevant and appropriate (Madsen & Verhoeven, 2016). Hence, people might avoid linking with hoax-related content on social media, which potentially describes them as irrational. ...
Article
Full-text available
To facilitate the immediate effects of social media activism, some activists adopt a deceptive strategy, swaying lay individuals’ perceptions and manipulating their behavior despite ethical considerations. This study identified instant activism, which targets lay individuals’ effortless supportive actions (e.g., clicking) on social media and examined its effects in the context of GMO (genetically modified organisms) labeling issues in the United States. Grounded in the situational theory of problem solving, this study investigated who engages in instant activism and what their behavioral consequences are. Results of an online survey ( n = 483) suggested that (a) individuals with a low level of issue knowledge but a high level of issue involvement tend to believe a social media hoax and (b) belief in the hoax leads individuals to engage in active communicative activities that involve problem solving and behavioral changes when mediated by situational motivation. Theoretical and practical implications were discussed.
... According to the study, though social media may play an effective role in sparking innovation, individuals or employees are core components, as they can interact with the external environment easily and acquire new evolving knowledge from customers as it happens. Madsen and Verhoeven [43] suggested that employees censor their communication in internal social media, because they perceive several types of risks related to such communication. Similarly, Ali-Hassan, Nevo, Kim, and Perelgut [44] reported that the utilization of social computing in the workplace enhances employee collaboration and work performance. ...
Article
Enterprise social media (ESM) is an emerging technology that is widely adopted by organizations as a digital platform for facilitating employee communication. However, very few studies explore ESM, and those that examine the technology show mixed findings about the outcomes of ESM in organizations. This study addresses this issue by investigating how ESM usage in organizations is related to employee agility. Two-wave research data are collected from 306 employees in different Chinese organizations that employ ESM in the workplace. Drawing on information processing theory, we propose the moderating role of information technology (IT) proficiency and work expertise in the relationship between ESM usage and employee agility. Findings confirm the positive relationship between ESM usage and employee agility, and work expertise strengthens the positive relationship between ESM usage and employee agility. However, IT proficiency is not a significant moderator in this study. Furthermore, theoretical and practical implications are discussed.
... in-depth interviews). Furthermore, future studies can incorporate other organizational and individual factors, such as organizations' diverse social media usage policy for employers or implicit rules, employees' self-censorship strategies on social media (Madsen and Verhoeven, 2016) or individuals' privacy protection rules, to enrich employees' diverse motivational routes for social media behaviors. Finally, although employees are not likely to share negative information about their organization due to perceived risks of being salient in the social media environment (Smith et al., 2017), it would also be meaningful to explore how companies' strategic communication efforts demotivate or reduce employees' intentions to share negative contents about their organization or job in their own social media in future studies. ...
Article
Full-text available
Purpose To advance the theoretical understanding of employees' advocacy on social media, this study aims to propose and test an integrative model that incorporates individual and organizational antecedents. Drawing from the relationship management theory in public relations and online behavior literature, the model specifically examines the collective impacts of the social media-related behavioral motivations of individuals and the quality of employee–organization relationship (EOR) on their positive information-sharing intentions about their company on personal social media. Design/methodology/approach An online survey was conducted with 419 full-time employees in the USA who use social media. Findings The results of an online survey with full-time employees in the USA showed that the EOR influenced by symmetrical internal communication significantly increases employees' advocacy intentions and social media-related motivations. Considerable and distinct effects of individuals' positive behavioral motivations on social media (i.e. self-enhancement, altruism, enjoyment) on advocacy intentions are also found. Originality/value This study is among the first attempts to test the value of strategic internal communication and relationship management approach in enhancing employee advocacy on the digital environment, social media and their motives of using such channel for benefiting their company.
... Consequently, employees are active dialogue partners, who enact their engagement in employee ideation on ISM through interactive sensemaking processes . Here, an organizations' internal communication climate is significant in relation to whether employees engage in communicating on ISM since self-censorship may limit their engagement (Madsen, 2018;Madsen and Verhoeven, 2016). ...
Article
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to explore employees’ perceptions of enablers and barriers to engage in multi-vocal dialogues about ideas (ideation) on internal social media (ISM) within a context of corporate communication. Design/methodology/approach This exploratory study is based on four data sets: online observations of employee ideation on ISM from 2011 to 2018, semi-structured interviews and informal conversations with two managers (2015–2016), archival material, and semi-structured interviews with 14 employees (2017–2018) in a large, knowledge-intensive Danish organization. Findings The study identified various enablers and barriers to engagement related to psychological engagement conditions of meaningfulness, safety and availability. Managers’ communication role or importance of innovation, as well as tensions, e.g. obligation vs option to ideate or employee influence vs no influence, were identified as enabling or constraining employee engagement in ideation on ISM. Research limitations/implications Broadening interviews to include employees who decided not to participate in online ideation would increase insights and nuance this study’s results. Practical implications Managers need to be aware of the psychological engagement conditions and balance identified enablers, barriers and tensions by acknowledging communication reciprocity on ISM. Not only employees, but also managers, are dialogue partners in employee ideation on ISM. Originality/value The study is one of the first to explore enablers of and barriers to psychological engagement conditions in a context central to corporate communication, namely internal innovation communication on ISM, and to study ideation from a coworker perspective.
... On the flip side, potential negative effects have just attracted more scholarly attention. For instance, being constantly visible and active on social media could lead to pressure for the individual (Bergk & Slomian, 2018;Hoffmann, 2017), resulting, i.e., in employee self-censorship or a lack of freedom of expression (Madsen & Verhoeven, 2016). Work-related social media use can also cause interruptions in daily work processes and work-life conflicts, leading to lower productivity rates (Van Zoonen et al., 2017) or straining identitytensions (Andersson, 2019b). ...
... Rice et al., 2017;Treem and Leonardo, 2012;Vaast and Kaganer, 2013), and visibility has been found to be the most important affordance (Treem et al., 2020). Visibility can be used by organizational members strategically to promote themselves or their team and be strategic about what they share and communicate about (Madsen and Verhoeven, 2016;Van Osch and Steinfield, 2018). ISM also afford employee participation as they make it possible for all employees to voice their opinion or comment on issues. ...
Article
Purpose Internal social media (ISM) make it possible for all employees to participate in knowledge sharing and decision-making and to voice their opinions. However, several studies have found that organizations are far from unlocking the full potential of ISM. This paper seeks to explore and explain this gap further by adopting a sensemaking lens to managers' understanding of a social intranet in a public sector organization. Design/methodology/approach A longitudinal case study of the process of introducing ISM was conducted in a Danish municipality. Before, during and after the launch of the intranet, interviews with department heads and communication managers in the six different municipal departments were carried out to explore how they made sense of the purpose of ISM. Findings Findings indicate that during the process of introducing and implementing ISM, department heads' and managers' narratives about the purpose of the intranet changed from being a matter of involving, engaging and hearing the voices of the employees to being an effective administrative tool and a channel for management to reach all employees. Originality/value Rather than the traditional focus on whether ISM fail or succeed, the paper offers new understandings of how managers' sensemaking of ISM changes over time, leading to changes in the actual usage of and communication on ISM.
... In general, presence on online platforms has often been construed as a risk, due to the presence of multiple audiences from a variety of contexts, and the resulting potential for "context collapse" (Vitak, 2012). This is no less problematic within the context of organisational communication and can lead to a variety of coping and self-silencing strategies on the part of the employees (see Madsen & Verhoeven, 2016). This is congruent with the findings, that -at least in a Danish context -the opposition towards increasing surveillance is strongly felt within the workplace (Wiecek & Saetnan, 2002), and opposition to surveillance or monitoring of and via digital technologies being especially strongly felt (Jørgensen, 2019). ...
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Enterprise social media (ESM) have largely gone ignored in discussions of the datafication practices of social media platforms. This article presents an initial step towards filling this research gap. My research question in this article regards how employees of companies using the ESM Workplace from Facebook feel that the implementation of this particular platform relates to their potential struggles for digital privacy and work–life segmentation. Methodologically, I explore this through a qualitative interview study of 21 Danish knowledge workers in different organisations using the ESM. The central analytical proposal of the article is that the interviewees express a “digital resignation” towards the implementation of the ESM. In contrast to previous discussions, this resignation cannot only be thought of as “corporately cultivated” by third parties, but must also be considered as “organisationally cultivated” by the organisations people work for. The study suggests that datafication-oriented media studies should consider organisational contexts.
... For instance, ESM facilitates effective communication and offers a collaborative platform through which employees can connect with coworkers, obtain suggestions and seek support on workrelated issues (Archer-Brown & Kietzmann, 2018;Pitafi et al., 2020;Tandon, Dhir, Talwar, Kaur, & Mäntymäki, 2021). Madsen and Verhoeven (2016) hold that ESM usage in organisations improves communication among employees and strengthens employees' organisational identity. Gonzalez, Leidner, Riemenschneider, and Koch (2013) explains that internal social media usage is positively related to socialisation and organisational commitment. ...
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Despite the increasing phenomena of supervisor phubbing (a counterproductive workplace behaviour of managers), very few studies have explored its outcomes in organisations. This study aims to bridge this gap by investigating the relationships between supervisor phubbing and key employee outcomes. We conducted two studies in cross-cultural settings. In Study 1, which was conducted in Pakistan (a collectivistic culture), we collected 370 useable responses through an online survey from the employees working in the service sector organisations. Study 2, which was conducted in the United States of America (an individualistic culture), utilised the Prolific data collection service to gather 352 responses. Our results from both studies reveal that supervisor phubbing is negatively related to employee job performance and work engagement via intrinsic motivation. Further, enterprise social media (ESM) usage in organisations moderates the relationships between supervisor phubbing and its outcomes such that these relationships are weaker for employees whose ESM usage is higher. Our work offers significant contributions to the literature on technology use at workplace as it discusses a counterproductive workplace behaviour of managers (phubbing) and that behaviour’s association with key employee outcomes in organisations while also considering the moderating role of ESM usage in organisations.
... Participants who favored posting positive messages over negative ones often cited the response they might get from those in their social networks. This assertion is consistent with other strategic communication research that has found that co-workers censor themselves in internal organizational social media (i.e., intranets) to avoid conflict and prevent potential relational damage (Madsen & Verhoeven, 2016). That study also found that social media users tend to post positive commentary rather than negative content. ...
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For all the hope and hype hailing the democratizing effect of social media, few studies have explained public influence as an element of social media engagement. Insight into how and why individuals attempt to exert influence over organizations online is particularly underdeveloped. This study takes the first step in understanding sense of influence online through in-depth interviews with social media users. Findings call into question assumptions in research about the motives and meanings underlying individual efforts to exert influence via social media. The data from 19 in-depth interviews with active social media users suggest that sense of influence is enacted for social relationships rather than to influence organizations or society, and information is the driving force of that effort. Findings also place the imperative on strategic communication to emphasize the value of the organization’s role on social interaction toward a fully functioning society.
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Purpose To provide an employee perspective on ambassadorship in the context of corporate communication, the purpose of this paper is to explore how employees relate to and experience ambassadorship. Design/methodology/approach The study has a qualitative approach, and the empirical material consists of semi-structured interviews with, and focus groups of, employees of seven organizations in both the public and private sectors. The paper draws on a contemporary understanding of identity where identity is perceived as an ongoing reflexive process in which employees negotiate and construct of their selves through relating to role expectations and interacting with others. Therefore, ambassadorship is understood as a social-identity, or persona, that is referenced by employees in their identity work. Findings The findings indicate that employees embrace this persona as they imagine that external stakeholders, colleagues and managers expect it of them. However, the ambassador persona also gives rise to identity-tensions both during work and off work. Research limitations/implications The paper contributes a novel way to understand ambassadorship as well as highlighting some of the more problematic aspects of it and furthering the understanding of the concept. Practical implications The findings highlight that ambassadorship can have problematic consequences that needs to be addressed. They suggest that the employee perspective should be taken into consideration in internal communication education and training. Originality/value The paper contributes a novel employee perspective on ambassadorship.
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This article examines employee ideation on internal social media, and how employees through dialogue strategies address uncertainty, a condition assumed inherent in ideation. The study explored online employee communication and interaction during 60 ideation sessions, including 2,420 suggested ideas, 6,558 comments, and 3,017 likes since the implementation in 2011 in a large, knowledge-intensive Danish organization. One ideation session counting 70 ideas, including 263 comments and 340 likes, was selected for an in-depth analysis of employee communication when generating ideas on internal social media. The study found that employees ideate mostly through three dialogue strategies: anticipating objections, asking directional questions, and opening up to other viewpoints. With these strategies, employees addressed uncertainty in mitigating interactions imagined to be face-threatening. Moreover, the present research suggests that uncertainty and dialogue strategies are considered resources for online employee ideation. Uncertainty may offer the opportunity for open, reflective, and stimulating dialogues, and the dialogue strategies may enhance online ideation. It is not until after an idea starts to develop through the multi-vocal dialogues that opportunities for innovation may emerge. In that sense, online employee communication about ideas is considered of strategic significance to one of the organization’s goals of being an innovation leader.
Chapter
Für Unternehmen bieten die fortschreitenden Entwicklungen in der Datenanalyse umfassende Möglichkeiten, ein besseres Verständnis ihrer Kunden, ihrer Mitarbeiter oder ihrer Konkurrenten, deren Verhalten und ihrer Präferenzen zu gewinnen und dieses in unternehmerische Entscheidungen einfließen zu lassen. Das steigende Bewusstsein von Nutzern sozialer Medien darüber, dass die von ihnen geposteten Informationen, Meinungen, Fotos oder Videos Gegenstand von Analysen sein können, kann ihr Kommunikationsverhalten jedoch verändern. Hemmt dies den freien Meinungsaustausch? Wie lässt sich das messen? Welche Konsequenzen hat es für eine Gesellschaft? Und würde sich dies auf die Kommunikation in Unternehmen auswirken, die soziale Medien für ihre interne Kommunikation verwenden? In diesem Beitrag werden relevante Forschungsarbeiten zur Messung und Erfassung des Chilling-Effektes sowie der Selbstzensur in sozialen Medien und deren Auswirkungen auf unternehmensintern genutzte soziale Medien kurz vorgestellt.
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Internal social media promises to transform the way organizational members interact and communicate with each other. This chapter explores the benefits of introducing internal social media balanced against the problems that are likely to emerge as well as different dynamics of communication on internal social media. The chapter argues that organizational culture, leadership receptiveness, and the presence of other internal communication channels influence how the communication on internal social media will develop, depending on how employees interpret and make sense of it. The chapter concludes that as ISM enhances organizational transparency on all levels, managers will have to adapt their management philosophy and managerial practices to the new communicative environment in order to accrue benefits to the organization.
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This article examines five common misunderstandings about case-study research: (1) Theoretical knowledge is more valuable than practical knowledge; (2) One cannot generalize from a single case, therefore the single case study cannot contribute to scientific development; (3) The case study is most useful for generating hypotheses, while other methods are more suitable for hypotheses testing and theory building; (4) The case study contains a bias toward verification; and (5) It is often difficult to summarize specific case studies. The article explains and corrects these misunderstandings one by one and concludes with the Kuhnian insight that a scientific discipline without a large number of thoroughly executed case studies is a discipline without systematic production of exemplars, and that a discipline without exemplars is an ineffective one. Social science may be strengthened by the execution of more good case studies.
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In four studies, we examine implicit voice theories - taken-for-granted beliefs about when and why speaking up at work is risky or inappropriate. In Study 1, interview data from a large corporation suggest that fine-grained implicit theories underlie reluctance to voice even pro-organizational suggestions. Study 2 survey data address the generalizability of the implicit theories identified in Study 1. Studies 3 and 4 develop survey measures for five such theories, establishing the measures' discriminant validity and incremental predictive validity for workplace silence. Collectively, our results indicate that implicit voice theories are widely held and significantly augment explanation of workplace silence.
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The widespread use of social network sites (SNSs) by children has significantly reconfigured how they communicate, with whom and with what consequences. This article analyzes cross-national interviews and focus groups to explore the risky opportunities children experience online. It introduces the notion of social media literacy and examines how children learn to interpret and engage with the technological and textual affordances and social dimensions of SNSs in determining what is risky and why. Informed by media literacy research, a social developmental pathway is proposed according to which children are first recipients, then participants, and finally actors in their social media worlds. The findings suggest that SNSs face children (aged approximately 9-11) with the fundamental question of what is real or fake. By around 1113, they are more absorbed by the question of what is fun, even if it is transgressive or fake. By age 14-16, the increasing complexity of their social and emotional lives, as well as their greater maturity, contributes to a refocusing on what is valuable for them. Their changing orientation to social networking online (and offline) appears to be shaped by their changing peer and parental relations, and has implications for their perceptions of risk of harm.
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When employees voluntarily communicate suggestions, concerns, information about problems, or work-related opinions to someone in a higher organizational position, they are engaging in upward voice. When they withhold such input, they are displaying silence and depriving their organization of potentially useful information. In this article, I review the current state of knowledge about the factors and motivational processes that affect whether employees engage in upward voice or remain silent when they have concerns or relevant information to share. I also review the research findings on the organizational and individual effects of employee voice and silence. After presenting an integrated model of antecedents and outcomes, I offer some potentially fruitful questions for future research.
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Given the large investments in Enterprise Social Media technologies in organizational settings, this paper sets out to explore the challenges and opportunities that ESM technologies provide for organizational communication. Merging existing conceptual work on ESM with findings from thirteen appreciative interviews with professionals from a large multinational organization, our papers offers six areas of opportunities and challenges—Social Capital Formation, Boundary Work, Attention Allocation, Social Analytics, Adoption and Use Incentives, and Governance and Control—that could guide researchers and practitioners in understanding and informing the use of social media technologies in their most productive and impactful ways.
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Organizational citizenship behavior (OCB) is reconceptualized in terms of civic citizenship as described in political philosophy. We used this theoretical foundation to derive substantive categories of OCB and to propose a nomological network of its potential antecedents. We also propose a new measurement of organizational citizenship behavior based on these substantive categories. Finally, data from 950 employees in diverse organizational and occupational contexts support the construct validity of the measurement of OCB proposed here.
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Organizations from government departments and corporations to small businesses are increasingly adopting social media for strategic corporate and organizational communication and public relations. This is seen by many as a positive development because the openness of the Web 2.0 environment potentially democratizes voice and affords participation, dialogue, and community-building. However, optimistic views of the benefits of organizational social media communication fail to adequately take account of potential conflict between the philosophy of openness that characterizes Web 2.0 and organizational strategy and management processes. Based on two international surveys from Australasia and Europe, this paper shows how social media are being deployed by organizations in a number of countries. These findings were further explored through depth interviews with a selection of social media specialists to examine how the tensions between the open, uncontrolled practices of social media and organizational strategy and management might be resolved or balanced, particularly in relation to objectives, control, and governance. The findings identify future directions in strategic communication that mediate the interests of organizations and online communities.
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Purpose This paper aims to discuss the motivational factors affecting the knowledge sharing through an intra‐organizational social media platform and to answer the following research questions: “What motivates employees to share their knowledge through an intra‐organizational social media platform?”; “What impedes them sharing knowledge this way?”; and “Do these factors differ from those motivational factors regarding knowledge sharing in general?”. Design/methodology/approach The paper approaches the issue from both theoretical and empirical viewpoints. The motivational factors regarding knowledge sharing in general are summed up from literature. The social media platform perspective to the issue is studied by conducting a survey in two companies. Findings The results reveal that the motivation to share knowledge through an intra‐organizational social media platform is the desire to help the organization reach its goals and helping colleagues, while financial rewards and advancing one's career were seen as least motivating. The key issues enabling the success of using a collaborative intra‐organizational social media platform in knowledge sharing are in line with the general knowledge sharing motivational factors, although supplemented with some additional features: reciprocity in knowledge sharing, making every‐day work easier and faster and ease of use are the key factors that make or break the success. Originality/value The empirical study reveals what motivates and impedes the employees of the companies to share knowledge via an intra‐organizational social media platform. The results are discussed in the light of those from earlier research about general knowledge sharing motivational factors.
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Purpose – When comparing the annotated relevance and the actual application of social media, enormous discrepancies show. This paper aims to introduce the concept of “Social Media Governance” as a means to accelerate the establishment of social media in communication practices and seeks to analyse its status quo in German organizations. Design/methodology/approach – The data presented here stem from a quantitative online survey among communication professionals that was carried out in Germany. Findings – The results indicate that although many organizations claim to have strategies for social media communications, nine out of ten had no explicit regulatory frameworks. Strategic pillars, such as managerial commitment and a participative corporate culture, were reported by one third of the organizations. This is crucial, because correlation analyses have revealed that the presence of such structures has a positive effect on skill levels, strategies and the level of activity. Research limitations/implications – In terms of theory, the concept of governance may be used in order to analyze the dynamics of introducing new modes of online communication. Practical implications – According to structuration theory, the actions of individual agents will only succeed if everyone involved can resort to structures in the sense of a common stock of (informal) rules and resources. This research indicates that public relations (PR) practices should focus on developing basic structures for social media communications and should not be limited to communications activities. Originality/value – While previous studies have focused on single aspects of social media governance, e.g. guidelines, very little research has been done on the overall concept. Also, the interconnection of strategic and structural aspects of social media communication has been neglected as a research topic so far.
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We investigate the relationships between two types of change-oriented leadership (transformational leadership and managerial openness) and subordinate improve- ment-oriented voice in a two-phase study. Findings from 3,149 employees and 223 managers in a restaurant chain indicate that openness is more consistently related to voice, given controls for numerous individual differences in subordinates' personality, satisfaction, and job demography. This relationship is shown to be mediated by subordinate perceptions of psychological safety, illustrating the importance of leaders in subordinate assessments of the risks of speaking up. Also, leadership behaviors have the strongest impact on the voice behavior of the best-performing employees.
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A case study was conducted to understand how continuous managerial efforts and internal communication to secure employee safety would cultivate quality of relationships between company and employee publics and further influence employee communicative actions in crisis situations. This case study shows that positive employee communicative behaviors and decreased negative communicative actions would be likely during a crisis resulted from good quality relationships. This showed the value of good relationships to corporate strategic management and enhanced adaptability to organizational turbulence.
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Workplace voice has been the subject of much research over the past 30 years. Prior work has examined the precursors of a wide variety of voice types including prosocial voice, grievance filing, whistle-blowing, informal complaints, and participation in suggestion systems. However, research on each type of voice has largely been conducted in isolation from work examining alternate types of workplace voice. The goal of this article is to review and integrate the literature on the determinants of workplace voice. The authors’ review of the literature is organized around the major categories of determinants that have been observed in the separate literatures on workplace voice. Based on the review, the authors identify commonalities and differences across alternative forms of voice in the determinants observed. Following this, they explore how the nature and purpose of voice varies, with emphasis on three dimensions of voice: formality, focus, and identifiability. The authors then explore whether this variation is relevant for understanding the pattern of determinants observed across alternative forms of voice. They close by discussing the implications of an integrative perspective of scholars’ understanding of the processes that determine voice and for organizations as they strive to facilitate the productive use of workplace voice.
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Voice behavior refers to the behavior that proactively challenges the status quo and makes constructive changes. Previous studies have explored the antecedents of employees' voice behavior, but to whom employees are likely to voice their thoughts has remained rarely examined. We propose that voice behavior is target-sensitive and that there are two types of voice behavior: speaking out (voice toward peers) and speaking up (voice toward the supervisor). Transformational leadership facilitates both speaking out and speaking up. However, it produces effects on employees via different types of employee identifications. Specifically, social identification predicts only speaking out, while personal identification predicts only speaking up. In contrast, affiliative extra-role behavior is less target-sensitive, and transformational leadership influences affiliative extra-role behavior via both social identification and personal identification. We examined our hypotheses by collecting both self-reported and coworker data from 191 Chinese employees in different organizations. Our hypotheses gained general support from the data. Implications for research and practice are discussed.
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This paper presents a model of team learning and tests it in a multimethod field study. It introduces the construct of team psychological safety—a shared belief held by members of a team that the team is safe for interpersonal risk taking—and models the effects of team psychological safety and team efficacy together on learning and performance in organizational work teams. Results of a study of 51 work teams in a manufacturing company, measuring antecedent, process, and outcome variables, show that team psychological safety is associated with learning behavior, but team efficacy is not, when controlling for team psychological safety. As predicted, learning behavior mediates between team psychological safety and team performance. The results support an integrative perspective in which both team structures, such as context support and team leader coaching, and shared beliefs shape team outcomes.
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Purpose Previous crisis communication research has primarily examined the external dimension of crisis communication, i.e. the crisis response strategies applied by organizations to protect and/or restore their image or reputation among external stakeholders in a crisis situation. The purpose of this paper is to set up an integrative framework for the study of internal crisis communication in private and public organizations. Design/methodology/approach The paper takes a theoretical approach reviewing the literature on crisis management and crisis communication and discussing the concept of internal stakeholder and the implications of a staged approach. Findings An integrative framework for the study of internal crisis communication is developed based on two assumptions: first, that internal crisis communication research must start with a detailed study of the relationship between an organization and its internal stakeholders (in this case: the employees) to clarify to what extent internal crisis communication differs from external crisis communication; and second, that internal crisis communication research can best be systematized applying a staged approach (precrisis stage, crisis event, postcrisis stage) as an heuristic method. Originality/value Apart from a few exceptions, the internal dimension of crises, crisis management, and crisis communication has, by and large, been unexplored.
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This study tracked 139 graduates of the same master's of business administration program for five years and demonstrated significant main effects of the personality variable self-monitoring on career mobility. The chameleon-like high self-monitors were more likely than the true-to-themselves low self-monitors to change employers, move locations, and achieve cross-company promotions. Of the 72 individuals who did not change employers, those high on self-monitoring obtained more internal promotions than those low on the variable.
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Social network sites like MySpace and Facebook serve as "networked publics." As with unmediated publics like parks and malls, youth use networked publics to gather, socialize with their peers, and make sense of and help build the culture around them. This article examines American youth engagement in networked publics and considers how properties unique to such mediated environments (e.g., persistence, searchability, replicability, and invisible audiences) affect the ways in which youth interact with one another. Ethnographic data is used to analyze how youth recognize these structural properties and find innovative ways of making these systems serve their purposes. Issues like privacy and impression management are explored through the practices of teens and youth participation in social network sites is situated in a historical discussion of youth's freedom and mobility in the United States.
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- This paper describes the process of inducting theory using case studies from specifying the research questions to reaching closure. Some features of the process, such as problem definition and construct validation, are similar to hypothesis-testing research. Others, such as within-case analysis and replication logic, are unique to the inductive, case-oriented process. Overall, the process described here is highly iterative and tightly linked to data. This research approach is especially appropriate in new topic areas. The resultant theory is often novel, testable, and empirically valid. Finally, framebreaking insights, the tests of good theory (e.g., parsimony, logical coherence), and convincing grounding in the evidence are the key criteria for evaluating this type of research.
Article
Purpose – Social media technologies are used by many organizations to project a positive image of their strategies and operations. At the same time, however, there are an increasing number of reports of slip-ups linked to poor situational awareness and flawed self-presentations on social media platforms. The purpose of this paper is to explore the triggers of inappropriate social media posts. Design/methodology/approach – Data were collected during a qualitative study of social media use in 31 organizations in the UK and interpreted using concepts from Erving Goffman’s theory of impression management. Findings – The findings point to a series of demanding triggers, which increase the likelihood of insensitive and contextually inappropriate posts and also damage fostered impressions. Originality/value – The authors identify four triggers linked to inappropriate social media posts, namely: speed and spontaneity; informality; blurred boundaries; and the missing audience. The authors also discuss how extending the notion of what Goffman refers to as “situation-like” encounters provides useful insights into impression management on social media.
Chapter
This chapter presents an analysis of a thread of intranet postings from a Swedish web consultancy at the time of its pursuit of a tobacco company as a client. Prior to the data collection, the tobacco company was to launch a new brand of snus, or moist snuff, and invited online marketing proposals from various web consultancy firms. During the proposal writing process, the Creative Director from this study’s focus company, hereafter referred to as WEB, posted on the company-wide intranet a brief announcement of the proposal work along with a 25-question survey concerning the habits and preferences of snuff-using colleagues. It was via this post that other employees learned of the company’s intentions to pursue the tobacco company, hereafter referred to as SNUFF, as a client. While the original intranet post presenting the survey did not indicate or acknowledge any anticipation of conflict or debate, a number of employees immediately called into question, problematized or even vilified the pursuit of SNUFF as a potential client. Other employees posted in defense of WEB’s decision to submit a proposal, and in this way a specific conflict about the ethical issues of pursuing a tobacco company unfolded, and a general debate over corporate vision and goals as well as moral responsibilities emerged.
Article
Although previous studies have shown that social-media platforms offer companies new ways to gain business value, they have also identified fundamental brand-related challenges in social media. The purpose of this paper is to complement the extant literature by addressing the ways in which companies manage their reputation in social media, focusing on the role of employees. We first illustrate how social-media environments amplify the need for distinct corporate reputation-management practices and, second, how challenges and solutions vary across companies in different sectors and businesses. We contribute to prior research by conceptualising corporate reputation management in social media as balancing acts, which take place in relation to different, contradictory, and sometimes paradoxical priorities related to branding and managing employees.
Article
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to contribute to the study of internal crisis communication, not only the communication from the management to the employees, but also the employees’ communication with each other, in order to highlight the role of communication in the employees’ sensemaking during a crisis situation. Design/methodology/approach – The study was conducted as interviews with both managers and employees at a municipality in the Stockholm region, where a former employee had just been accused of embezzling approx. 25 million SEK. The interviews were analysed with particular interest to descriptions of how information was communicated, and how the sensemaking process developed. Findings – The crisis communication was successful when it came to informing external stakeholders and media. But the management and the employees had different views on the communication. The employees felt that management did not present all the information they needed, which made their sensemaking based on assumptions and rumours, and on the culture in the unit. Management interpreted that the crisis was not due to a culture problem, while the employees felt that there was a shared responsibility. Blaming the former employee was perceived as a way of dodging the cultural problems. Practical implications – Conclusions can be generalized into three points: first, differences between external and internal crisis communication need to be taken into account. Second, a crisis can strengthen existing patterns within a dysfunctional culture. Third, do not use single employees as scapegoats, putting all blame on them. Originality/value – The study shows the significance of culture and rumour as components of sensemaking in a crisis situation. The results should be applicable to most kinds of organizations, commercial or not.
Article
Employees increasingly interact through social networking platforms in the workplace. A distinguishing feature of these platforms is their ability to build a sense of community (SOC)—the feelings of membership, influence, integration, and fulfillment of needs, and shared emotional connection. Yet much remains to be understood as to the way these platforms contribute to building a SOC at workplaces. This study examines whether organizational members exhibit community-like behaviors and processes in intranet communication. The study also tests a theoretical model in which members’ perceptions of the group’s norms affect the antecedents of SOC. The results of a survey of 112 employees revealed that both exchanging and observing support increased feelings of SOC. Furthermore, the perception of group norms mediated the relationship between observing and exchanging support and SOC. This study contributes to the field of business communication by applying a theory-based framework to intranets and empirically testing the role of group norms in shaping online communication behaviors at workplaces.
Article
This study explored how coworkers use internal social media (ISM) to contribute to the construction of organizational identity. The study analyzed 3 months of interactions among coworkers at a large Danish bank on ISM. In addition, 17 coworkers were interviewed to provide additional understanding about the online interactions. The study found that these coworkers constructed organizational identity when they challenge, negotiate, and discuss organizational issues on ISM. They use phrases from vision and mission statements to support their arguments and to push the understanding of organizational identity so that it is in line with their perceptions of what the bank really is or should be. Some of these discussions on ISM develop into organizational stories, which are shared and discussed in informal, in-person conversations among coworkers. The stories become narratives, which contribute to the organizational identity, help coworkers make sense of the organization, and help them identify with the organization.
Article
The aim of this article is to elucidate the complexity of internal crisis communication by identifying and discussing different paradoxical tensions embedded within a large, complex, multi-professional organization. This article is based on a qualitative case study of a university hospital. Internal dimensions of crisis management have long been neglected within the field of crisis communication research. In the first part of the article, two theoretical approaches are presented – the functionalist and social constructionist which are based on different ontological and epistemological assumptions. We take a social constructionist perspective on crisis communication, which focuses on aspects such as complexity, sensemaking, and symmetrical relations. In the first part, we also give a brief overview of the small, but growing research into internal crisis communication. In the second part of the article, five different paradoxical tensions are identified and discussed: (1) episodic–emergent, (2) centralized–decentralized, (3) professional–organizational, (4) planning–improvisation, and (5) external–internal. While the complexity of internal crisis communication demands a both-and perspective, we have found a tendency to a simplistic either-or thinking. In the concluding discussions, several explanations of the one-sided polarization within the tensions are offered. Furthermore, we discuss various ways of responding to paradoxical tensions. Metacommunication is presented as important in order to increase organization members’ understanding and thereby facilitate a more reflexive and broader approach to crisis management.
Article
Social media are becoming widely adopted by organisations to encourage collaboration and communication. We seek to understand how social media can enhance employee voice and employees' willingness to engage in constructive dialogue with both colleagues and managers. By drawing on literature on employee voice, signalling theory and personal control to analyse qualitative data from research into three strategic business units in a major global telecommunications corporation, we find that (a) employee perceptions of personal control and autonomy influence whether and how employees' exercise voice through social media, and (b) these perceptions vary according to different organisational/field-level contexts evident in the corporation.
Article
This article examines whether managerial responses to employees speaking up depend on the type of voice exhibited - that is, whether employees speak up in challenging or supportive ways. In one field study and two experimental studies, I found that managers view employees who engage in more challenging forms of voice as worse performers and endorse their ideas less than those who engage in supportive forms of voice. Further, perceptions of loyalty and threat mediated these relationships, but in different ways. I discuss implications for research on voice, proactivity, and social persuasion.
Article
The present study demonstrates how three psychological antecedents (psychological safety, felt obligation for constructive change, and organization-based self-esteem) uniquely, differentially, and interactively predict supervisory reports of promotive and prohibitive "voice" behavior. Using a two-wave panel design, we collected data from a sample of 239 employees to examine the hypothesized relationships. Our results showed that felt obligation was most strongly related to subsequent promotive voice; psychological safety was most strongly related to subsequent prohibitive voice; and organization-based self-esteem was reciprocally related to promotive voice. Further, although felt obligation strengthened the positive effect of psychological safety on both forms of voice, organization-based self-esteem weakened this effect for promotive voice. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.
Article
Intense emotions such as frustration, anger, and dissatisfaction often drive employees to speak up. Yet the very emotions that spur employees to express voice may compromise their ability to do so constructively, preventing managers from reacting favorably. I propose that to speak up frequently and constructively, employees need knowledge about effective strategies for managing emotions. Building on theories of emotion regulation, I develop a theoretical model that explains the role of managing emotions in the incidence and outcomes of voice. In a field study at a health care company, emotion regulation knowledge (1) predicted more frequent voice, (2) mediated by the emotional labor strategies of deep acting and surface acting, and (3) enhanced the contributions of voice to performance evaluations. These results did not generalize to helping behaviors, demonstrating that emotion regulation uniquely affects challenging but not affiliative interpersonal citizenship behaviors. This research introduces emotion regulation as a novel influence on voice and its consequences.
Conference Paper
Social networking site users must decide what content to share and with whom. Many social networks, including Facebook, provide tools that allow users to selectively share content or block people from viewing content. However, sometimes instead of targeting a particular audience, users will self-censor, or choose not to share. We report the results from an 18-participant user study designed to explore self-censorship behavior as well as the subset of unshared content participants would have potentially shared if they could have specifically targeted desired audiences. We asked participants to report all content they thought about sharing but decided not to share on Facebook and interviewed participants about why they made sharing decisions and with whom they would have liked to have shared or not shared. Participants reported that they would have shared approximately half the unshared content if they had been able to exactly target their desired audiences.
Article
The common sense notion that people will be more reluctant to communicate information which is negative rather than positive for the recipient was tested under conditions that would rule out the following variables as determinats of this difference: the recipient's prior behavior toward the communicator, specified present or anticipated role relationships and/or interaction, a unit relation between communicator and message, and obvious anticipated rewards and punishments as a consequence of transmission (or non-transmission). Even when these factors were controlled for the hypothesized effect was obtained $(p<.001)$ . The difference in communication rates as a function of whether the news was good or bad was discussed in terms of some of the costs which might inhere in the communication situation per se and of other variables which might moderate the relationship.
Article
For more than a century, scholars have alluded to the notion of an “imagined audience”—a person's mental conceptualization of the people with whom he or she is communicating. The imagined audience has long guided our thoughts and actions during everyday writing and speaking. However, in today's world of social media where users must navigate through highly public spaces with potentially large and invisible audiences, scholars have begun to ask: Who do people envision as their public or audience as they perform in these spaces? This article contributes to the literature by providing a theoretical framework that broadly defines the construct; identifies its significance in contemporary society and the existing tensions between the imagined and actual audiences; and drawing on Giddens's concept of structuration, theorizes what influences variations in people's imagined audience compositions. It concludes with a research agenda highlighting essential areas of inquiry.
Article
Effective internal communication is a prerequisite for organisational success. Organisations need to evaluate and improve communication especially in increasingly difficult economic pressures. Assessment instruments enable organisations to monitor communication effectiveness. This review of academic and consultancy studies found over reliance on measuring satisfaction with the communication process. The analysis found management-centric rather than employee-centric approaches to assessment. This indicates a need to develop new approaches to assessing internal communication. A conceptual model is proposed here to encourage focus on employee communication needs in terms of content as well as channel. Future approaches to assessment should draw on a wider theoretical and conceptual framework. Assessment instruments need to reflect advances in practice. They need to assess the value of internal communication to employees as well as their organisations.
Article
Using role theory as the overarching framework, we propose that employees' voice has contrasting relationships with the traits of duty orientation, or employees' dispositional sense of moral and ethical obligation at the workplace, and achievement orientation, or the extent of their ingrained personal ambition to get ahead professionally. Using data from 262 employees and their managers, we demonstrate that duty and achievement orientations are, respectively, positively and negatively related to voice through their impact on voice role conceptualization or the extent to which employees consider voice as part of their personal responsibility at work. Further, we delineate how employees' beliefs about their efficacy to engage in voice and judgments about psychological safety in the organization can moderate these relationships. We discuss the implications of these findings for theory and practice. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2013 APA, all rights reserved).
Article
This paper develops the concept of listening as a metaphor for paying attention online. Pejorative terms such as ‘lurking’ have failed to capture much detail about the experience of presence online. Instead, much online media research has focused on ‘having a voice’, be it in blogs, wikis, social media, or discussion lists. The metaphor of listening can offer a productive way to analyse the forms of online engagement that have previously been overlooked, while also allowing a deeper consideration of the emerging disciplines of online attention. Social media are the focus of this paper, and in particular, how these platforms are changing the configurations of the ideal listening subject. Three modes of online listening are discussed: background listening, reciprocal listening, and delegated listening; Twitter provides a case study for how these modes are experienced and performed by individuals, politicians and corporations.
Article
Previous researchers have considered the nature of dissent as well as the audiences to whom employees express dissent. Absent in these treatments is a specific focus on the actual dissent strategies that employees use. The purpose of this study was to assess strategies employees use to express upward dissent within contemporary organizations. Employees completed a survey instrument that asked them to provide a dissent account. Five distinct strategies emerged from an interpretive thematic analysis of the accounts. Results indicated that employees used direct-factual appeal, repetition, solution presentation, circumvention, and threatening-resignation strategies for expressing upward dissent.
Article
This article brings together previous research efforts by the authors and reviews a wide range of relevant literatures to explain and analyze paradoxes of employee participation and workplace democracy. Although the authors do not take the position that all or even most of these paradoxes are necessarily harmful, they do maintain that there are a variety of practical avenues for dealing with them. The heart of the essay analyzes several main categories of participatory paradoxes: those of structure, agency, identity, and power. Following that, the authors offer practical suggestions for the management of paradoxes (and related tensions and contradictions), linking those recommendations to relevant theoretical and empirical propositions.
Article
Coworkers have received remarkably little attention in research and in practice within the field of strategic communication. The heroic view of leadership has nourished a view of coworkers as passive recipients rather than active and influential communicators. The first aim of this article is to illuminate how coworkership can be described and understood from a communication perspective. A greater focus on coworkers in strategic communication research will give a better understanding of the complex relationship between communication and organizing as coworker interpretations and actions constitute an organization. A second aim is to discuss new challenges for communication professionals resulting from coworkership.When communication professionals also support coworker communication processes, they will be perceived as a natural part of basic organizational processes. This conceptual paper emanates from the CCO (Communication Constitutes Organizing) perspective as a general meta-theory. We argue that coworkers must be put in the limelight since changes in organizational life have resulted in new demands on coworker communication practices and skills – not only in relation to their manager, but also in relation to colleagues and in relation to their employer as ambassadors. The article concludes with a discussion about five challenges for communication professionals.
Article
This paper describes the process of inducting theory using case studies-from specifying the research questions to reaching closure. Some features of the process, such as problem definition and construct validation, are similar to hypothesis-testing research. Others, such as within-case analysis and replication logic, are unique to the inductive, case-oriented process. Overall, the process described here is highly iterative and tightly linked to data. This research approach is especially appropriate in new topic areas. The resultant theory is often novel, testable, and empirically valid. Finally, framebreaking insights, the tests of good theory (e.g., parsimony, logical coherence), and convincing grounding in the evidence are the key criteria for evaluating this type of research.