This summary is provided by the IPR Organizational Communication Research Center.

This study focused on the influence of startup CEO communication on the relational and behavioral outcomes of employees. Specifically, this study examined how the responsiveness, assertiveness, and authenticity of executive communication may impact an employee’s relationship with their employing startup organization as well as their organizational-citizen behavior.

This study positions responsive communication as executive communication that is empathetic and warm in nature and values the interactions with other parties within the organization. In contrast, assertive executive communication can be understood as dominant, decisive, and embodying stereotypical masculine qualities. Lastly, authentic CEO communication can be understood as communication that is genuine and in alignment with core values of the communicator. The researcher theorized that these types of communication from the CEO may play a role in the relationship the employee has with their employer (employee-startup relationship) as well as the likelihood for employees to go “above and beyond” in their role (organizational citizenship behavior).

To test the model, an online survey was conducted with 77 participants employed in startups in Mainland China. Respondents averaged 30 years of age, and 56 % were women. Most were educated, with 88% of them having received at least some college education. Almost half of the respondents (48%) were middle management,  36% were lower-level managers, and 16% were entry-level employees. Nearly all respondents had been at their current startup organization less than ten years, with half being employed for five years or less. Industries represented included software and IT services (63 %), manufacturing (13%), and scientific research and technology services (5%). Most startup CEOs were male (85 %) and between 31 and 45 years old (80 %).

Key Findings
1.) CEOs’ communication responsiveness, assertiveness, and authenticity all positively influence employee relationships with their startups.
2.) Assertiveness had a weaker impact on employee-startup relationships than the other two attributes (responsiveness and authenticity).
3.) The quality of the employee’s relationship with the startup impacted the efficacy of the startup CEO’s communication efforts and the subsequent impact on an employee’s reported intention to engage in organizational citizenship behavior.

Implications for Practice
Startups and their leaders should 1) be aware that CEO communication style and efforts matter, and executives should acknowledge that how they communicate with their employees is likely to play a role in employee perceptions and their relationship with the organization, and 2) understand that responsive and authentic communication show great potential as modern ways that CEO’s may communicate with their employees if they aim to improve employee-organization relationships and encourage employees to go the extra mile in their job roles.

Men, L. R. (2021). The impact of startup CEO communication on employee relational and behavioral outcomes: Responsiveness, assertiveness, and authenticity. Public Relations Review, 47(4), 102078.

Location of Article
This article is available online here.
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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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