Author(s), Title and Publication
Broch, C., Lurati, F., Zamparini, A. & Mariconda, S. (2018). The Role of Social Capital for Organizational Identification: Implications for Strategic Communication. International Journal of Strategic Communication, 12:1, 46-66, DOI:10.1080/1553118X.2017.1392310

Strategic communication scholars and professionals are continually interested in how organizations use communication to effectively achieve their mission. Organizational identity, specifically helping stakeholders identify with an organization’s over-arching mission, corporate values, and messaging reflects an effective communication strategy. Employee stakeholders who identify with an organization are more likely to engage in behaviors that are desirable for an organization, such as cooperation, performance and organizational citizenship behavior. Despite the widely held benefits of organizational identification to strategic communicators, there remains a research gap regarding antecedents to organizational identity. Most notably, the authors fill the research gap by accounting for the role of employee’s relationships or networks within the organization as antecedents to organizational identity. This gap is accounted for by introducing a social capital perspective into organizational identification, which contemplates the influence of an individual’s cognitive and relational social capital (i.e., prestige, resourceful others, friendship), on organizational identity.

Researchers collected 121 questionnaires broken into two parts to evaluate employee’s organizational identity and their organizational networks. Findings revealed social capital defined as “the individual’s assortment of resources owned through his or her personal social network and obtained as a consequence of the history of these relationships,” as an influencing driver of organizational identification processes. Informal communication proved instrumental in building organizational identification and in establishing social capital. Further, social capital influenced attractiveness of perceived organizational identity (APOI) and thus affirmed previous studies that posit APOI as the most influential driver of organizational identification. Contrary to previous studies however, attractiveness of construed external image (ACEI) which measures how outsiders view an organization’s identity revealed no impact on organizational identification. Likewise, an individual’s need to identify (NOID) revealed no impact on organizational identity. Finally, greater employee tenure positively influenced APOI and the relational processes of social capital and thus organizational identification as a whole.

Implications for Practice
Organizations should (1) favor a relational approach to internal communication aimed at promoting information and emotional sharing (multiplexity), (2) work cross functionally with internal communications managers, human resources managers and leadership to promote a culture of supportiveness and to foster employee-organization relationships, peer relationships, and networking (3) plan internal communication initiatives that allow employees the opportunity to speak, be heard, and actively participate in organizational decision-making to facilitate ownership, and (4) stimulate connection and identification by involving and asking the feedback of tenured employees in relational initiatives.

Location of Article
This 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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