Author(s), Title and Publication

Katsuhiko Shimizu, Keio University, Yokohama, Japan (2017). Senders’ bias: How can top managers’ communication improve, or not improve strategy implementation? International Journal of Business Communication, 54(1), 52-69. DOI: 10.1177/2329488416675449


Organizational change can lead to increased uncertainty that, if not addressed, can negatively impact strategy execution. In this study, the author examines the critical role of communication as a means of effective strategy implementation. In particular, this research focuses on the disparity between leaders’ perception of the value of their own communication, and employees’ perceptions of leaders’ communication. Identified as senders’ bias, leaders have a tendency to overestimate the quality and quantity of their communications. Creating a gap between leader expectations and employee interpretations, senders’ bias potentially limits strategy implementation and overall organizational success. The contemporary business climate, including increased competition, has accelerated the need for organizations to be nimble and efficient. While technology has certainly enabled efficiency, it has likewise added complexity to senders’ bias, as electronic and impersonal communication limits feedback and opportunity to adjust and modify messaging. The research and literature utilized in this study is intended to increase understanding of the idea of senders’ bias in effort to reduce the bias, and improve communication, and strategy execution.

This research suggests new strategies are often met with resistance due to organizational member’s uncertainty, differing perspectives than those of top management, and fear of challenging the comfortable status quo. Compounding this resistance, overreliance on electronic communication from top management closes the feedback loop, leaving voices unheard. The literature suggests top management utilize consistent, value-driven communication, in formal and informal, and personal and electronic environments to help align organizational members with organizational goals, values, and strategies.

Implications for Practice

Managers should (1) be mindful of their own possible senders’ bias, and (2) actively seek feedback from organizational members to understand potential reasons for resistance, (3) explicitly state openness to employee voices and ideas in one-on-one, group, and electronic communication, (4) pay close attention to non-verbal communication cues as indicators that the message is being heard, and (5) ask questions to minimize the occurrence of simple misunderstandings or misinterpretations that may lead to resistance and reduce effectiveness.

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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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