Topic: Employee Communication and Business Alignment

Authors, Title and Publication

van Riel, C. B., Berens, G., & Dijkstra, M. (2005). The Influence of Employee Communication on Strategic Business Alignment. Report of the Erasmus Research Institute of Management: Erasmus University, Rotterdam, the Netherlands.


This study surveyed more than 2,400 employees in two international companies to examine the influence of different dimensions of internal communication on strategic business alignment (SBA), which is the degree to which employees understand, support, and are able to execute the companies’ strategic initiatives. Previous studies have shown that employee communication is crucial to SBA, which leads to better organizational performance. This study focused on employee attitudes and behaviors regarding strategic issues and examined six dimensions of employee communication: 1) management communication, 2) internal media, 3) cross-departmental communication, 4) personal messaging, 5) corporate messaging, and 6) communication climate, which refers to how communication takes place, or how information is communicated.

Results showed that 1) the amount of communication from line management, 2) the amount of communication content related to strategic issues, and 3) especially the climate of communication had a strong and positive influence on employee attitudes and behaviors regarding strategic initiatives. Management communication had a significantly stronger influence in both companies on supportive attitudes regarding strategic issues than did internal media or cross-departmental communications. Corporate messaging also was more important for strategic alignment than personal messaging. But management communication had a stronger direct effect on strategy-aligned behaviors in Company 1, than did communication through internal media. Most respondents in Company 1 were professionals, while most respondents in Company 2 were operating personnel. This suggests that the level of a person’s job position determines which dimensions of employee communication are most important in stimulating support for the organization’s strategy. Overall, the study indicated that employees are more likely to hold supportive attitudes for the company’s strategy issues when they perceive the flow, content, and climate of employee communication are adequate.

Implications for Practice

Communicators can help improve employee line of sight and enhance SBA by stimulating line managers to communicate more with employees and by providing line managers with more strategic information, messaging, and communication training.

Location of Article

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Heidy Modarelli handles Growth & Marketing for IPR. She has previously written for Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, The Next Web, and VentureBeat.
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