This summary is provided by the IPR Organizational Communication Research Center
Lies, misunderstandings, and mis/disinformation are common in the workplace. Pseudo-information may hamper organizational reputation, relationships with stakeholders, and hurt an organization’s bottom line. The current study explored how to prevent or mitigate the negative outcomes related to pseudo-information. Specifically, the authors looked at the gatekeeping role of employees and their constructive behaviors in combatting the flow of pseudo-information within the organization. The authors believed that organizations could benefit from employees who can voluntarily debunk pseudo-information by controlling, selecting, and screening information. The authors focused on two factors—two-way symmetrical internal communication and employee-organization relationships—and explored how they may affect employees’ involvement in gatekeeping behaviors.
Consistent with prior literature, the authors proposed that two-way symmetrical internal communication promotes employees’ feelings of trust, satisfaction, commitment, and sharing of mutual power with their organizations. Furthermore, they argued that employees would be more likely to clarify misinformation and help combat organization-related disinformation and rumors when they perceive symmetrical internal communication from their employers. A good relationship can also serve as a motivator for employees to protect their organizations by committing to debunking and preventing pseudo-information.
The authors administered an online survey and recruited 300 employees who worked for the 10 biggest corporations in the South Korean economy. The final sample included 44.3% males and 55.7% females. The average age was 45 years old. Most participants (90.3%) worked full-time, had a bachelor’s degree (77.7%), and had worked for their company for more than nine years (30%).
- Two-way symmetrical internal communication increased employee-organization relationship quality.
- Employees who were exposed to two-way symmetrical internal communication were more willing to increase their gatekeeping behaviors.
- Quality employee-organization relationships also enhanced employees’ gatekeeping practices.
Implications for practice
To increase employees’ voluntary gatekeeping behaviors, organizations should 1) implement two-way symmetrical communication that focuses on understanding, collaboration, listening, and responsiveness, and 2) cultivate quality, long-term relationships with employees.
Andreu Perez, L., Kim, N., Martino, V., & Lee, S. (2022). Constructive Roles of Organizational Two-Way Symmetrical Communication: Workplace Pseudo-Information Gatekeeping. American Behavioral Scientist, 00027642221118294.