Topic: Organizational Identification and Communication Climate


Author(s), Title and Publication

Smidts, A., van Riel, C. B. M., & Pruyn, A. T. (2000). The impact of employee communication and perceived external prestige on organizational identification. Erasmus Research Institute of Management: Research in Management Report ERS-2000-01-MKT. Erasmus University, Rotterdam, the Netherlands.



This study used social identity theory as a framework for examining the effects of employee communication (EC) and perceived external prestige (PEP) on organizational identification (OI) in a customer service organization in the Netherlands. Previous studies have shown that strong employee OI contributes to a company’s success and may help explain sustained superior performance. Understanding employee needs and motivations for OI, then, is important to increasing identification, and internal communication is one crucial instrument to affect such motivations.

A stratified random sample of 775 employees in 15 units of a large service organization were surveyed to assess OI, or the perception of “oneness” with an organization; PEP, which refers to how employees think others view their organization, and thereby themselves; and communication climate (CC), which refers to how information is communicated. Slightly more than half (402) of the employees completed the survey.

The study found that OI was affected by both EC and PEP, though EC exerted stronger influence. OI also was influenced strongly by CC, which in turn was affected by the adequacy of personal and organizational information provided in internal communication. In fact, CC was found to be the most important communication antecedent of OI. How an organization communicates internally is more vital than what is communicated, in terms of building identification. An open CC in which employees feel they have a voice, are appreciated, and are taken seriously by top management and co-workers, increases OI.


Implications for Practice

Managers should be attuned to communication climate and provide opportunities for employees to “speak out, get involved, be listened to and participate actively.” Managers also should evaluate and determine the key dimensions that constitute their organization’s identity and communicate them.


Location of Article

The article is available online at:

Share this:

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

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *