Internal Communication, Information Satisfaction, and Sense of Community: The Effect of Personal Influence

Topic: Internal Communication and Information Satisfaction

Author(s), Title and Publication

White, C., Vanc, A., & Stafford, G. (2010). Internal Communication, Information Satisfaction, and Sense of Community: The Effect of Personal Influence. Journal of Public Relations  Research, 22(1), 65-84.

Summary

This study examined employees’ perceptions of information flow from top administrators, their communication preferences, sense of community within the organization, and the impact of those perceptions on their willingness to advocate for the organization.

In-depth telephone interviews with 147 employees in a large multi-campus university found that the most important source of communication was the top leader(s) of the organization. Hearing directly from top management, particularly the chancellor, gave employees the sense they were receiving full information. It also made them feel important. The personal influence of the chancellor and top administrators positively affected employees’ information satisfaction. Employees who had a relationship with the chancellor (e.g., through an advisory committee) were more satisfied with the information they received and felt a greater responsibility to advocate for the organization. Even the perception of a relationship with top administrators produced information satisfaction.

Interpersonal communication was the core of effective internal communication. The preferred communication channel among all employees was face-to-face interactions. Meetings were valued as a channel for feedback and providing face time with top managers. Electronic channels, if used thoughtfully, flattened the traditional, hierarchical structure of internal communication and gave employees the sense of hearing things first-hand from the top. Studying other types of organizations would enrich the findings of this study, which focused on one university.

Implications for Practice

To enhance employees’ information satisfaction and foster their sense of community, top management may want to: 1) provide information directly to employees; 2) share more information with employees, even when the information is not essential to their jobs; 3) trust that most employees have the best interests of the organization in their hearts; and 4) use email and organizational websites carefully, directing employees to information on the website through other communication channels if possible.

Location of Article

The article is available online at: http://www.instituteforpr.org/wp-content/uploads/White_Vanc_Stafford.pdf

 

 

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