The Effects of Authentic Leadership on Strategic Internal Communication and Employee-Organization Relationships

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<ul><li><p>This article was downloaded by: [University of Newcastle (Australia)]On: 25 September 2014, At: 19:22Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registeredoffice: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK</p><p>Journal of Public Relations ResearchPublication details, including instructions for authors andsubscription information:</p><p>The Effects of Authentic Leadership onStrategic Internal Communication andEmployee-Organization RelationshipsLinjuan Rita Men a &amp; Don Stacks ba Communication Studies , Southern Methodist Universityb School of Communication , University of MiamiPublished online: 19 Aug 2014.</p><p>To cite this article: Linjuan Rita Men &amp; Don Stacks (2014) The Effects of Authentic Leadershipon Strategic Internal Communication and Employee-Organization Relationships, Journal of PublicRelations Research, 26:4, 301-324, DOI: 10.1080/1062726X.2014.908720</p><p>To link to this article:</p><p>PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLE</p><p>Taylor &amp; Francis makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of all the information (theContent) contained in the publications on our platform. However, Taylor &amp; Francis,our agents, and our licensors make no representations or warranties whatsoever as tothe accuracy, completeness, or suitability for any purpose of the Content. Any opinionsand views expressed in this publication are the opinions and views of the authors,and are not the views of or endorsed by Taylor &amp; Francis. The accuracy of the Contentshould not be relied upon and should be independently verified with primary sourcesof information. Taylor and Francis shall not be liable for any losses, actions, claims,proceedings, demands, costs, expenses, damages, and other liabilities whatsoever orhowsoever caused arising directly or indirectly in connection with, in relation to or arisingout of the use of the Content.</p><p>This article may be used for research, teaching, and private study purposes. Anysubstantial or systematic reproduction, redistribution, reselling, loan, sub-licensing,systematic supply, or distribution in any form to anyone is expressly forbidden. Terms &amp;Conditions of access and use can be found at</p><p></p></li><li><p>The Effects of Authentic Leadership on StrategicInternal Communication and Employee-Organization</p><p>Relationships</p><p>Linjuan Rita Men</p><p>Communication Studies, Southern Methodist University</p><p>Don Stacks</p><p>School of Communication, University of Miami</p><p>This study examines how strategic leadership influences excellent internal public relations by</p><p>establishing the linkage between authentic leadership, symmetrical and transparent communication,</p><p>and employeeorganization relationships. The results showed that authentic leadership as an</p><p>antecedent factor plays a critical role in nurturing an organizations symmetrical and transparent</p><p>communication system, which in turn, cultivates quality employeeorganization relationships. An</p><p>organizations symmetrical communication worldview greatly fosters its day-to-day transparent</p><p>communication practice. Transparent communication, characterized by information substantiality,</p><p>accountability, and employee participation, largely contributes to employee trust, control mutuality,</p><p>commitment, and satisfaction. The impact of symmetrical communication on employees relational</p><p>outcomes is fully mediated via transparent communication. Significant theoretical and practical</p><p>implications of the findings are discussed.</p><p>Internal communication, as a central process in which employees share information, create</p><p>relationships, make meanings, and construct organizational culture and values (Berger, 2008),</p><p>has been recognized as the foundation for modern organizations. A growing body of evidence</p><p>has demonstrated that effective internal communication plays a vital role in developing positive</p><p>employee attitudes such as trust, organizational commitment (Jo &amp; Shim, 2005), job satisfaction</p><p>(Gray &amp; Laidlaw, 2004), organizational identification (Smidts, Pruyn, &amp; van Riel, 2001), and</p><p>positive employeeorganization relationships (Kim &amp; Rhee, 2011). These attitudes, in turn, lead</p><p>to higher productivity, improved performance, organizational learning (Berger, 2008), favorable</p><p>employee communication behaviors, and better external relations (Kim &amp; Rhee, 2011).</p><p>Recognizing the increasing importance of employees in achieving organizational success,</p><p>scholars have also begun exploring the sundry factors that drive internal communication</p><p>effectiveness. For instance, Dozier, L. A. Grunig, and J. E. Grunig (1995) and L. A. Grunig,</p><p>J. E. Grunig, and Dozier (2002) suggested that a participative organizational culture, an organic</p><p>Correspondence should be sent to Linjuan Rita Men, Southern Methodist University, Communication Studies, 6550</p><p>Shady Brook Lane, Dallas, TX 75206. E-mail:</p><p>Journal of Public Relations Research, 26: 301324, 2014</p><p>Copyright # Taylor &amp; Francis Group, LLCISSN: 1062-726X print/1532-754X online</p><p>DOI: 10.1080/1062726X.2014.908720</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Uni</p><p>vers</p><p>ity o</p><p>f N</p><p>ewca</p><p>stle</p><p> (A</p><p>ustr</p><p>alia</p><p>)] a</p><p>t 19:</p><p>22 2</p><p>5 Se</p><p>ptem</p><p>ber </p><p>2014</p></li><li><p>structure, a symmetrical communication system, and diversity are important contextual factors</p><p>facilitate communication with employees. Recently, scholars have pointed out the connections</p><p>between leadership and internal communication. According to Whitworth (2011), communi-</p><p>cation between leaders of various levels and followers constitute a major component of the orga-</p><p>nizations internal communication system. Leaders (i.e., managers) interact with followers on a</p><p>daily basis, and they are often regarded as preferred and credible sources of information by</p><p>employees (Larkin &amp; Larkin, 1994). Further, leaders communication competence, communi-</p><p>cation styles, and behaviors can influence employee outcomes (e.g., Cameron &amp; McCollumn,</p><p>1993; Dowling, 2004; Madlock, 2008; Men, 2011b). However, public relations research to date</p><p>has not adequately explored the role of organizational leadership in achieving communication</p><p>effectiveness with internal or external publics. Thus, to fill the research void and extend the</p><p>literature on how organizational leadership influence the effectiveness of internal communi-</p><p>cation, this study examines how an emerging leadership styleauthentic leadershipinflu-ences the development of the organizations strategic internal communication system,</p><p>characterized by symmetrical communication and transparent communication, and the qualityof employee-organization relationships.</p><p>According to Walumbwa, Avolio, Gardner, Wernsing, and Peterson (2008), the construct of</p><p>authentic leadership was developed given a recent upswing in highly publicized corporate</p><p>scandals, management malfeasance, and broader societal challenges facing public and private</p><p>organizations (p. 34). These negative social trends call for research on a new type of genuine</p><p>and value-based authentic leadership, the ultimate goal of which is to train and develop leaders</p><p>who will proactively foster positive environments and conduct business in an ethical, socially</p><p>responsible manner (Cooper, Scandura, &amp; Schriesheim, 2005, p. 477). Similarly, in the public</p><p>relations domain, researchers have recently embraced the construct of transparent communi-</p><p>cation as a response to the growing exposure of deceptive practices that took place behind</p><p>the doors (Rawlins, 2009, p. 71). Further, the rising of new technology tools, such as social</p><p>media, provide organizations numerous innovative means to share information and remain open</p><p>with the publics, which has, at the same time, escalated the publics expectation of organiza-</p><p>tional transparency. Facing the unprecedented public demand for visibility and openness in</p><p>todays business world, it is important for enterprises to develop a strategic communication sys-</p><p>tem that fully embraces symmetry, transparency, and authenticity. However, unlike the construct</p><p>of symmetrical communication, which has generated decades of research, there is a dearth</p><p>of scholarship on concepts of transparent communication and authenticity in the public</p><p>relations field.</p><p>One purpose of the study, therefore, is to examine transparency and authenticity in the</p><p>context of organizational internal communication. In particular, this study proposes a normative</p><p>model that links authentic leadership to symmetrical and transparent communication as well as</p><p>employee relational outcomes. The studys findings will provide significant implications for</p><p>public relations scholars and professionals. Theoretically, the study will contribute to the</p><p>growing body of knowledge on organizational transparency and internal communication;</p><p>also, it will provide new empirical evidence on how strategic leadership as an antecedent and</p><p>contextual factor influences internal communication effectiveness and relationship management.</p><p>Practically, the study provides recommendations for organizational leaders and communication</p><p>professionals on how to collaboratively achieve leadership effectiveness and communication</p><p>excellence.</p><p>302 MEN AND STACKS</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Uni</p><p>vers</p><p>ity o</p><p>f N</p><p>ewca</p><p>stle</p><p> (A</p><p>ustr</p><p>alia</p><p>)] a</p><p>t 19:</p><p>22 2</p><p>5 Se</p><p>ptem</p><p>ber </p><p>2014</p></li><li><p>LITERATURE REVIEW</p><p>Leadership and Public Relations</p><p>As pointed out by several public relations scholars (e.g., Aldoory &amp; Toth, 2004; Jin, 2010;</p><p>Werder &amp; Holtzhausen, 2009), although the importance of leadership is widely recognized and</p><p>the concept is well researched in the disciplines of management, business, and marketing, lead-</p><p>ership research in the public relations setting is still in the emerging stage. Following Aldoory and</p><p>Toths call for leadership research in public relations, a couple of initiatives have been conducted.</p><p>For example, Werder and Holtzhausen examined the influence of leadership style in the use of</p><p>public relations strategies. From the trait perspective, Jin examined the role of emotions in public</p><p>relations leadership. Shin, Heath, and Lee (2011) compared the preferred leadership characteris-</p><p>tics of public relations practitioners in the United States and South Korea. The limited existing</p><p>literature on leadership in public relations (e.g., Aldoory &amp; Toth, 2004; Jin, 2010; Meng, Gower,</p><p>Berger, &amp; Heyman, 2012; Shin et al., 2011; Werder &amp; Holzhausen, 2009) mainly focused on</p><p>examining the leadership styles and traits preferred or demonstrated by public relations leaders.</p><p>Yet, public relations effectiveness is influenced not only by public relations leadership, but also</p><p>organizational leadership. For instance, leadership influences organizational infrastructures, such</p><p>as the development of organizational culture (Yukl, 2006), structure, and communication climate.</p><p>Such organizational contextual factors (e.g., participative culture, organic structure, diversity), in</p><p>turn, nurture excellent public relations practices because they provide a hospitable and supportive</p><p>environment to communicate with the external public and facilitate the organizations internal</p><p>communication with employees (L. A. Grunig et al., 2002; Kim &amp; Rhee, 2011).</p><p>Additionally, organizational hierarchical communication, represented by top-down or bottom-</p><p>up communication among the successive layers of executives, managers, supervisors, and</p><p>nonmanagement employees, is a major component of an organizations internal communication</p><p>system. Leaders at different levels play an important role in pushing or cascading messages until</p><p>they reach every employee, and pass along employee voices to top management. Studies have</p><p>consistently suggested that immediate supervisors are employees preferred source of infor-</p><p>mation, and have more credibility with employees compared to senior executives (e.g., Larkin</p><p>&amp; Larkin, 1994; Whitworth, 2011). In addition, researchers have noted that a leaders communi-</p><p>cation styles and behaviors can influence the employees outcomes. For example, Holladay and</p><p>Coombs (1993) noted that leadership communication shapes follower perception. When leaders</p><p>clearly and persuasively communicate a vision, they gain the confidence of followers. In a similar</p><p>vein, this study argues that organizational strategic leadership, in particular, authentic leadership,</p><p>provides a critical organizational context for effective internal communication practice.</p><p>Authentic Leadership</p><p>Various types of leadership, such as transformational, transactional (e.g., Bass, 1990), inclusive</p><p>(e.g., Aldoory &amp; Toth, 2004), authentic, and shared leadership, have been identified by scholars</p><p>in the past. This study paid special attention to authentic leadership, which is currently receiving</p><p>attention in terms of research, theory, and practice, because of its direct relevance to the focal</p><p>constructs of the study. Luthans and Avolio (2003) first defined authentic leadership as a</p><p>AUTHENTIC LEADERSHIP, INTERNAL COMMUNICATION, AND RELATIONSHIPS 303</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Uni</p><p>vers</p><p>ity o</p><p>f N</p><p>ewca</p><p>stle</p><p> (A</p><p>ustr</p><p>alia</p><p>)] a</p><p>t 19:</p><p>22 2</p><p>5 Se</p><p>ptem</p><p>ber </p><p>2014</p></li><li><p>process that draws from both positive psychological capacities and a highly developed organiza-</p><p>tional context, which results in both greater self-awareness and self-regulated positive behaviors</p><p>on the part of leaders and associates, fostering positive self-development (p. 243). This</p><p>definition reasons a key idea that authentic leaders are deeply aware of their values, beliefs,</p><p>emotions, self-identities, and abilities. They know clearly who they are and what they believe</p><p>in; thus, they can stay true to themselves. With that said, authentic leaders do not conform</p><p>to role expectations that are not consistent with their values and beliefs (i.e., what they believe</p><p>is right, proper, or necessary). In other words, the actions of authentic leaders are largely</p><p>determined by what they believe, rather than a desire to be liked or admired (Yukl, 2006).</p><p>Consistency in what they believe, say, and do is a key tenet for authentic leadership. In addition,the reason why authentic leadership was created determines its ethical foundation. Luthan and</p><p>Avolio (2003), and May, Chan, Hodge, and Avolio (2003) also argued that authentic leadership</p><p>incorporates a positive moral perspective that guides decision making and behaviors, such</p><p>as honesty, altruism, kindness, fairness, accountability, and optimism (Yukl, 2006).</p><p>Walumbwa et al. (2008) operationally defined authentic leadership (e.g., Cooper et al., 2005;</p><p>Gardner et al., 2005; Illes, Moreson, &amp; Nahrgang, 2005; Luthans &amp; Avolio, 2003; May et al.,</p><p>2003) to include four dimensions based on previous literature: self-awareness, relational</p><p>transparency, balanced processing, and internalized moral perspective. Self-awareness refersto the leaders understanding of how they make meaning of the wor...</p></li></ul>


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