Topic: Employee Communication Behavior; Employee-Organization Relationships

Authors, Title and Publication
Mazzei, A., Kim, J., & Dell’Oro, C. (2012). Strategic value of employee relationships and communicative actions: Overcoming corporate crisis with quality internal communication. International Journal of Strategic Communication, 6(1), 31-44

This study analyzed a case to understand how continuous managerial efforts and internal communication to secure employee safety would cultivate quality of relationships between company and employee publics and further influence employee communicative actions in crisis situations. According to the researchers, internal communication is a lever that helps to prevent crises, supports appropriate reactions, minimizes damage and eventually produces positive results. In the context of a crisis, employees may act as either advocates or as adversaries of their company. They are also exposed to the company’s crisis communication strategy through press releases, interviews and information on the website, and may serve to critique the strategy adopted by the management. The study examined the role of internal communication and worker relationship quality in triggering employees to communicate in favor of or against their company.

This study analyzed a work safety crisis at a plant in Northern Italy and found that positive employee communicative behaviors and decreased negative communicative actions would be likely during a crisis as a result of good quality relationships. This showed the value of good relationships to corporate strategic management and enhanced adaptability to organizational turbulence. The researchers attributed the effective relationship building to three communication strategies: 1) the use of primary communication conveyed by the company’s actions and managerial concern; 2) the convergence and consistency of behavior among organizational units; and 3) continuous investment in internal communication.

Implications for Practice
Organizations should 1) exert continuous and consistent managerial efforts towards promoting workplace safety; 2) have a parallel internal communication program and policy in place to prevent negative affective reactions and the related negative communication behaviors in case of crises; and 3) foster convergence among the many levers of communication, including organization, technology and training.

Location of Article
The article is available online at: (abstract free, purchase full article)

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