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:http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/hprr20</p><p>The Effects of Authentic Leadership onStrategic Internal Communication andEmployee-Organization RelationshipsLinjuan Rita Men a & 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 & 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: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1062726X.2014.908720</p><p>PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLE</p><p>Taylor & Francis makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of all the information (theContent) contained in the publications on our platform. 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Terms &Conditions of access and use can be found at http://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditions</p><p>http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/hprr20http://www.tandfonline.com/action/showCitFormats?doi=10.1080/1062726X.2014.908720http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1062726X.2014.908720http://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditionshttp://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditions</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 & Shim, 2005), job satisfaction</p><p>(Gray & Laidlaw, 2004), organizational identification (Smidts, Pruyn, & van Riel, 2001), and</p><p>positive employeeorganization relationships (Kim & 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 & 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: email@example.com</p><p>Journal of Public Relations Research, 26: 301324, 2014</p><p>Copyright # Taylor & 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 & Larkin, 1994). Further, leaders communication competence, communi-</p><p>cation styles, and behaviors can influence employee outcomes (e.g., Cameron & 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, & 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 & Toth, 2004; Jin, 2010;</p><p>Werder & 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 & Toth, 2004; Jin, 2010; Meng, Gower,</p><p>Berger, & Heyman, 2012; Shin et al., 2011; Werder & 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 & 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>& 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 & 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, & Nahrgang, 2005; Luthans & 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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