A quantitative and qualitative examination on the effects of corporate communication
Business is a subset of communication. One may communicate and never conduct an economic transaction, but one cannot conduct an economic transaction and not communicate. To understand corporate communication, look at communication. Every living thing communicates, whether it is a microbe, plant, lower-order invertebrate, higher-order mammal or human. Humans, like other social animals, depend on communication to organise society. Every human has a unique intellect, behaviour, capacity for growth and change and ability to articulate thoughts and feelings and choose courses of action.
Every human is limited by his or her environment, as well as by the state of knowledge and of society before and during the time the person is alive. How individuals view one another has a fundamental effect on corporate communication. Some persons believe humans are perfectible or perfect. Therefore, they communicate to persons as ideal creatures. Others see humans as improvable. Therefore, they communicate with the expectation that, over time, humans come to act in better ways.
Still others believe that humans are fundamentally flawed. No matter how well one communicates to them, each one is damaged goods who will receive messages poorly. Yet other individuals see humans as leaning toward self-interest or even as always self-interested and acting without regard for others. Some persons believe humans are controlled by outside forces, such as the environment, genetics, gods, furies, stars, fate or third parties. One communicates to them as individuals blessed or cursed by circumstances. Finally, there are those who see humans as free-willed and capable of making choices based on both self-interest and the interests of others. In corporate communication, all beliefs coexist side by side with message development, transmission and reception.
Several years back, corporate organisations had steadily increased in size. Several companies became large, complex, and bureaucratic, often employing thousands of workers. In any way possible, whether by art or science, corporate managers had to plan and coordinate these operations in order to supervise their employees with the employers to bring success to the company. As is true of all instances when humans band together to amplify their individual efforts, communication was instrumental in the endeavour of managers to direct activities needed to create, produce, and sell products or to provide services.
Management theories in the early years had assumed that corporate managers should be able to be dominant, paternal, and rational in the use of communication to direct employees’ work. The theories and the existing bodies of knowledge relevant to that managerial philosophy can be reduced to one directive: Give instructions clearly and firmly. From that limited beginning, research and theory progressed to explain the impact organisations have on how their employees are able to talk and discuss and why communication helps or harms organisations (Morgan, 1986).
Management philosophy advanced when researchers demonstrated that human relations help employees feel good about their work, themselves, and the organisation. Being able to work on those aspects, the human resources approach resulted when managers and researchers recognised the importance of involving employees in the design and execution of work; it acknowledged that bosses cannot control workers. This kind of organisational drive had sprung a revolution in the organisational management theory. With this kind of drive, human resources shifted the locus of control from the exclusive domain of managers toward a cooperative balance between bosses and employees. A recent version of this approach reduces organisational excellence and productivity to the axiom “Work smarter, not harder.” That approach to management treats employees and organisational processes as being thoughtful (Morgan, Frost, & Pondy, 1983).
On the other hand, as corporate managers always have the good thing in mind, they are not always rational. As Shrivastava, Mitroff, and Alvesson (1987) reasoned, “The assumption that organisations are rational entities is an unnecessary and mystifying limitation that obscures important aspects of organizing” (p. 90). Organisational behaviour has often thought to be thoughtful even though people do not continually and “consciously select a set of means to achieve predetermined ends with optimal or at least satisfying results” (p.90).
Recent organisational development theories have pushed more and more the theory of corporate communication to be utilised in the workplace. Existing studies has defined that corporate communication is the process of facilitating information and knowledge exchanges with internal and key external groups and individuals that have a direct relationship with an enterprise. It is concerned with internal communications management from the standpoint of sharing knowledge and decisions from the enterprise with employees, suppliers, investors and partners.
The main objective of corporate communication work is for an organisation to promote the organisation itself as opposed to marketing communications where the objective of communication is to promote what the organisation can provide to the customers. The aim of corporate communication is building company’s reputation among its stakeholders – its corporate sponsors, partners and most importantly its employees.
The aim of this study therefore is to present an undergraduate dissertation that is focused on the facets of corporate communication. The focus of this study is to determine the perception common to the company’s stakeholders towards corporate communication. Studies will be presented in order to identify the common kinds of corporate communication being used by companies and how they affect the corporation in the long run. Part of the study would examine the rationale for using corporate communication and how this kind of organisational management strategy would affect the business in general. Lastly, the study aims to examine whether or not corporate communication is just a new kind of marketing strategy for companies in order to present a good image to the companies to their stakeholders or are they really trying to encourage a deeper of ideological change among the company’s stakeholders in order to promote corporate growth.
REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE
The study deals with the most common types of corporate communication that is being used by organisations today. The corporate communicator’s work is ethically committed to truthful and verifiable information. So, there is a premium on finding out the facts: getting the right data and information together on clients, events and issues. This contributes to the better understanding of clients’ needs and enables the consideration of the right responses to problems and the construction of appropriate messages. It is normative to ensure that corporate communication action is driven by quality information: the best guarantee of quality communication. Information and knowledge management thus become complementary and self-reinforcing to corporate communication practice. The most common modes of corporate communication include analyst relations, Internal communications; Investor relations; Corporate governance (communications aspects of corporate governance); Issue management; Change management (communications aspects of growth management, mergers and acquisitions etc.); Corporate social responsibility; Litigation (communications on/around litigation); and Crisis communications. In this section, the study presents studies focusing on these modes of corporate communication.
The first mode of corporate communication is analyst relations. Extant studies define analyst relations is defined as a corporate communication and PR activity whereby businesses objective to influence technology industry analysts or identified also as research analysts that are independent from research and consulting firms. Overly large corporate entities that provide technology hardware, software, networking, and IT services always have an Analyst Relations specialist. These specialists/officers are the point persons for briefing of industry analysts about the organisation’s strategy, products and services. These specialists generally objective to encourage these research analysts in order to acknowledge their companies in the best possible light in order to vouch for their company’s prowess in the field. Analyst Relations is often found under corporate communication as part of its overall function within the company. On the other hand, corporate communication can be handled under marketing, investor relations, sales, or a number of other groups.
The other kind of corporate communication being utilised in companies right now are Investor relations. Investor relations (IR) is defined as a set of activities that is associated to the manner that a company is required to disclose information for regulatory compliance to existing corporate laws and for very good means to investment between shareholders and the very wider financial market.
Effective communication of corporate strategy may provide a boost to shareholder value. Enhanced shareholder value is based on a positive stakeholder’s view of the company’s overall strategy and strategic direction. This perception is shaped, in part at least, by corporate strategy communications that are specific, timely and open. The importance of strategy communications has been demonstrated in a recent study that has further shown that communications about the future appears to be of special importance. While the financial community is interested in a company’s candid appraisal of past performance and disappointments, they may be more sensitive to information about strategic intentions that will allow them to make judgements about future corporate prospects
Several companies that are now publicly registered have full time IR specialist that objectives to take care and look after the organisation’s relations with its investors and initiate activities and deal with buy-side and sell-side investment professionals. Functions of investor relations personnel often include collection of information on competitors and dissemination of information via press conferences, one-on-one briefings, investor relations sections of company websites, and company annual reports. One of the main tasks also of the investor relations function also includes the delivery of relevant information with regards to the insubstantial directives and programs to the corporate governance and the company’s corporate social responsibility.
A key sub topic of internal communications that is part of corporate communication is corporate culture. According to Scott (1987), organisations are concerned about corporate culture because it helps to sustain the commitment of individual members to the good of the organisation. There is the perception that individuals who have genuinely internalised the values of the organisation are likely to engage in cooperative and spontaneous behaviour in their service to the organisation. To understand fully the extent to which employees identify with their organisation, it is necessary to explore the various perspectives of corporate culture adopted by organisational-behaviour researchers. Martin and Meyerson (1988) performed an extensive analysis of the literature and identified the following three major perspectives in corporate culture research:
The integration perspective: This view portrays a strong or desirable culture as one where there is organisation-wide consensus and consistency. Espoused values are consistent with formal practices, which are consistent with informal beliefs, norms, and attitudes. Cultural members share the same values, promoting a shared sense of loyalty and commitment to the organisation.
The differentiation perspective: This view emphasises that consensus, rather than being organisation-wide, occurs only within the boundaries of a subculture. At the organisational level, differentiated subcultures may coexist in harmony, conflict, or indifference to each other. Van Maanen’s (1991) study of Disneyland found groups of employees who identified with specific groups rather than with the entire organisation. These specific groups, or subcultures, related to different jobs, different levels of organisational status, gender, and class. Claims of harmony from management masked a range of inconsistencies and group antagonisms. What is unique about a given organisation’s culture, then, is the particular mix of subcultural differences within an organisation’s boundaries.
The fragmentation perspective: This approach views ambiguity as the norm, with consensus and dissension coexisting in a constantly fluctuating pattern influenced by events and specific areas of decision making. Consensus fails to coalesce on an organisation-wide or subcultural basis, except in transient, issue-specific ways (Frost et al., 1991).
Another function of the investor relation is also being knowledgeable in the up-coming issues which the organisation may face, and which may have an impact on the organisation. Corporate governance is the set of processes, customs, policies, laws and institutions affecting the way a corporation is directed, administered or controlled. Corporate governance also includes the relationships among the many players involved (the stakeholders) and the goals for which the corporation is governed. The principal players are the shareholders, management and the board of directors. Other stakeholders include employees, suppliers, customers, banks and other lenders, regulators, the environment and the community at large.
Another form of corporate communication is corporate governance. An important theme of corporate governance deals with issues of accountability and fiduciary duty, essentially advocating the implementation of guidelines and mechanisms to ensure good behaviour and protect shareholders. Another key focus is the economic efficiency view, through which the corporate governance system should objective to optimise economic results, with a strong emphasis on shareholders welfare. Recently there has been considerable interest in the corporate governance practices of modern corporations.
Change management is a structured approach to change in individuals, teams, organisations and societies that enables the transition from a current state to a desired future state. From an individual perspective, the change may be a new behaviour. From a business perspective, the change may be a new business process or new technology. Successful change, on the other hand, requires more than a new process, technology or public policy. Successful change requires the engagement and participation of the people involved.
Change is difficult, and organisational change is particularly challenging, thus the huge amount of research on managing organisational change, usually called ‘change management’. What is change management? Some might say that it is an oxymoron since change is too unpredictable and chaotic to control or manage. On the other hand, good managers must attempt to manage it. Change management is the executive skill or art of leading or supervising the people involved in the transformation of or in an organisation. People are the heart of change management, and communication is at the heart of people. Nothing happens in an organisation without communication. Without effective employee communication and a rigid approach to communication during major change, a change program has little chance to succeed.
Although there is considerable research existing on change management, few of the articles or books give adequate attention to the change communication that accompanies any good change management program; on the other hand, at least communication does appear as one component necessary for a change program to succeed in most cases. For instance, in Kotter’s often cited (1995) approach to successful organisational transformations, communication is listed as the fourth of his eight steps:
1 establishing a sense of urgency;
2 forming a powerful guiding coalition;
3 creating a vision;
4 communicating the vision;
5 empowering others to act on the vision;
6 planning for and creating short-term wins;
7 consolidating improvements and producing still more change;
8 institutionalizing the new approaches.
Another frequently cited approach to change management is the ten commandments of executing change found in Kanter, Stein and Jick’s The Challenge of Organisational Change (1992):
1 analyse the organisation and its need for change;
2 create a shared vision and common direction;
3 separate from the past;
4 create a sense of urgency;
5 support a strong leader role;
6 line up political sponsorship;
7 craft an implementation plan;
8 develop enabling structures;
9 communicate, involve people, be honest;
10 reinforce and institutionalise change.
In both of these examples, although the word ‘communicate’ appears in only one step, the role of communication is explicit in most of the other steps. For instance, how could a manager create a ‘sense of urgency’ without communicating messages that inspire the necessity to act? How can managers create coalitions, without convincing people (through words) to follow them? How can managers institutionalise new approaches, without instructing people in expected actions? And, of course, we could go on, but these few examples demonstrate how communication is interwoven in all aspects of a change program. Obviously, without effective employee communication, change is impossible and change management fails.
In ‘Leading change: why transformation efforts fail’, Kotter lists ‘under-communication’ as one of the major reasons change efforts do not succeed. As he says, ‘Transformation is impossible unless hundreds or thousands of people are willing to help, often to the point of making short-term sacrifices. Employees will not make sacrifices, even if they are unhappy with the status quo, unless they believe that useful change is possible. Without credible communication, and a lot of it, the hearts and minds of the troops are never captured’ (Kotter, 1995). Therefore, companies need to apply the same analytical energy and rigour to employee communication and the design of their change communication plan that they give to the financial and operational components of any change program.
Another form of corporate communication is Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). CSR these days are more common in large scale organisations and multinational corporations. The scale and nature of the benefits of CSR for an organisation can vary depending on the nature of the enterprise, and are difficult to quantify, though there is a large body of literature exhorting business to adopt measures beyond financial ones found a correlation between social/environmental performance and financial performance. On the other hand, businesses may not be looking at short-run financial returns when developing their CSR strategy.
The definition of CSR used within an organisation can vary from the strict “stakeholder impacts” definition used by many CSR advocates and will often include charitable efforts and volunteering. Some companies may implement CSR-type values without a clearly defined team or program. Potential recruits are increasingly likely to ask about a firm’s CSR policy during an interview and having a comprehensive policy can give an advantage. Managing risk is a central part of many corporate strategies. Building a genuine culture of ‘doing the right thing’ within a corporation can offset these risks.
Companies are facing increasing pressure to both maintain profitability and behave in socially responsible ways, yet researchers have provided little information on how corporate social responsibility impacts profitability. This paper reports the findings from in-depth interviews of consumers to determine their views concerning the social responsibilities of companies. A typology of consumers whose purchasing behaviour ranges from unresponsive to highly responsive to corporate social responsibility was developed from the analysis.
The public generally holds less confidence in big businesses than other institutions such as the military, the police, public schools, and newspapers. In the US for instance, the public generally holds a lesser sense of confidence towards big businesses as compared to other national organisations. The only national institutions that may rank lower in US consumer confidence were Congress and the criminal justice system. Concurrently, firms are under increasing pressure to give money to charities, protect the environment, and help solve social problems in their communities–in other words, to behave in socially responsible ways. Although academics and business leaders have engaged in a great deal of debate about the social responsibilities of business, there has been little research on what the general public expects. As a result, those who run corporations lack a clear understanding of what the public wants from them and how far they are expected to go toward helping their communities.
In crowded marketplaces companies strive for a unique selling proposition which can separate them from the competition in the minds of consumers. CSR can play a role in building customer loyalty based on distinctive ethical values. Business service organisations can benefit too from building a reputation for integrity and best practice. Corporations are keen to avoid interference in their business through taxation or regulations. By taking substantive voluntary steps they can persuade governments and the wider public that they are taking current issues like health and safety, diversity or the environment seriously and so avoid intervention. This also applies to firms seeking to justify eye-catching profits and high levels of boardroom pay. Critics of CSR will attribute other business motives, which the companies would dispute.
The last form of corporate communication that is highlighted in this study is Crisis communications. Communication in times of crisis, or crisis communication, consists basically of a set of concepts, principles, analysis, and working methods that apply specifically to the very particular situation known as a crisis. It is considered a specialty under PR that is developed by specialists in order to protect and defend the company facing a public challenge to its reputation. These concepts, principles, analysis, and methods are rooted in the diverse but for those familiar with them — closely related human sciences of social anthropology, psychology, and cindynics, as well as in the field of medical emergencies and disasters. These challenges may come in the form of an investigation from a government agency, a criminal allegation, a media inquiry, a shareholders lawsuit, a violation of environmental regulations, or any of a number of other scenarios involving the legal, ethical, or financial standing of the entity. Operationally, crisis communication can be justified by the fact that their appropriateness and effectiveness are demonstrated on the ground from crisis to crisis.
Crisis communications professionals preach that an organisation’s reputation is often its most valuable asset. To emerge with its reputation intact, an organisation must anticipate every move and respond immediately and with confidence. Companies facing such a threat will often bring in experienced crisis communications specialists to help prepare and guide them through the process. This is when the analysis, concepts, principles, and methods mentioned above will help, insofar as is possible, to avoid making crude errors of judgment and prevent any worsening of the situation caused by stress-inducing delays, inappropriate reactions, or irresponsible comments. The scope of crisis communication is not, however, limited to the few hours or days when the crisis breaks out. In most cases, if upstream methods are deployed, it can be possible to anticipate a crisis, take heed, prepare for, and even sometimes prevent the worst. A number of principles and techniques have proven to be effective on this slippery slope of identifying and managing potential crises in advance. Similarly, downstream, in the so-called postcrisis period, the use of specific communication methods is recommended to avoid prolonging the crisis, stimulating it, or even triggering a relapse (Ogrizek & Guillery, 1999, p. xiii).
Crisis communications can include crafting thorough and compelling statements, known as “messages,” often tested by research and polling. Other kinds of crisis communications may include proactive media outreach to get messages and context to the media, identifying and recruiting credible third-party allies, who can confirm to the organisation’s statement, not waiting to be hit. Crisis communications is a part of very much bigger process that is often referred to as crisis management though it may well be a major tool of handling a crisis situation in government, organisation or business.
In addition, it is also considered part of the Business Continuity presently. Its objective is to provide aid to organisations to maintain continuity of critical business processes and information flows under crisis, disaster or event driven circumstances. Being able to provide quick responses effectively and in a premeditated way are the primary objectives of an effective crisis communications strategy and/or solution. The inherent lag time in acquiring a quick response to a looming crisis can result in considerable losses to company revenues, reputation as well as substantially impacting on costs.
The need for enhanced corporate reputation and trust-based relationship becomes more critical in an environment of less traditional relationship coalition, relational history, and interpersonal communication. This is more important for companies as they primarily are supposed to make money hence the need to safe keep their corporate identity to be solid and untarnished. This can aid them to further develop the trust that their stakeholders and at the same time encourage people to invest in them. The new means is fostering transitional relationship, and easy access to information and forum to critique, criticise or condemn an institution. Modern information technology is creating a new corporate communication landscape. It is affecting communication channels, corporate audience identification, mode and methods of communication, message content and form, communication feedback and corporate personae. It is impacting shared meaning of message, information packaging, strategic information management and corporate identity. There is also the need to carefully investigate how companies now manage public issues, advocacy role and reaction to emerging and sustained crises. Computer technology has altered the power structure and the relationship between companies and their stakeholders, stakeholders and the media. Internet may be creating a shift from the status quo style of corporate communication paradigms that can ultimately benefit or not companies as a whole.
The corporate image is similar to weather. People notice when it is extremely good or extremely bad. The image of the company is the reputation and is a reflection of how the organisation, in this case the company is perceived by others, either through conversation, written words and even through the internet. When the image the company project to the stakeholders is in sync with your firm’s corporate culture, the company will be in much surer footing. However, a persona not in keeping with protocol reflects poorly on the company,
The study adopts a descriptive quantitative design in determining the effects of the corporate communication in a corporation and its stakeholders. The quantitative design aims to describe the factors which determine the satisfaction of short-term project employees in the exposition industry. In this portion of the study, the advantages of a quantitative study are discussed.
In a study which is quantitative in nature, the proponent intends to gather data so that a valid conclusion may be arrived at regarding the outcomes of broadly comparable experiences. An objective or positivist approach is adopted by those who utilise this design (Cohen & Manion, 1994). The main principle underlying this approach is that knowledge and facts are measurable and that complicated problems may be comprehended more effectively if they are broken down into less complicated pats (Easterby-Smith et al, 1996).
The quantitative approach has several advantages, among them is the fact that they have clearer boundaries with regards to data gathering. And yet, these do not come with its weaknesses. For this approach to yield valid conclusions, the tool that is used for data gathering has to have acceptable psychometric properties. The construction of the research tool must be subjected to rigor and careful analysis (Reason & Rowen, 1981). One other limitation for quantitative methods is the need to use a substantially large sample to be able to garner more valid results (Easterby-Smith et al, 1996).
Another study that aims to enforce the quantitative results and the overall research design is the qualitative analytical framework. In order to further acquire and gain more insight into statistics that will be gathered from the instrument, interviews ought to be carried out some of the respondents. In addition, Researchers who decide to utilise qualitative methods take on a subjectivist approach (Cohen & Manion, 1994), suggesting that facts cannot be effectively comprehended by looking at them exclusively; they must be placed in context. It is critical that problems be considered as components of a complicated fabric or relationships, and such components may not be taken in isolation (Easterby-Smith et al, 1996).
The deductive approach shall be utilised in the present study, with the Theory of Reasoned Action being tested through empirically gathered data. The use of the deductive approach shall allow the researcher to validate the theoretical framework through the gathering and analysis of primary data (Saunders et al, 2003).
To further the use of the qualitative design in the study, a descriptive, comparative and correlational to aid the quantitative results. The study is both descriptive and quantitative since it aims to qualify and quantify how corporate communication and its many derivatives effect the overall perception of the stakeholders to the company. Moreover, the levels of consciousness of the stakeholders to the facets of the organisation and the research is said to be correlational since it aims to establish significant bivariate relationships between the variables and patronage of either the image generated by corporate communication tools and the common perception of the students.
The present research also utilises a case study approach that focuses on the different existing kinds of corporate communication and how they had affected the company that had used these kinds of communication modes and techniques. A case study is defined as a means for carrying out research which entails empirical study of a specific phenomenon within the natural setting in which it occurs, utilising various sources of proof or evidence (Robson, 2002). The use of a case study lends itself to effectively addressing the questions of why and how and data may be yielded through survey methodologies and observational methods (Saunders et al, 2003).
The case study approach was used for the purposes of the current study because it offers several advantages. We used the case study method because we deliberately wanted to cover contextual conditions – believing that they might be highly pertinent to the phenomenon of study. Other advantages are the discovery of hidden forms of behaviour, the exploration of causal mechanisms linking phenomena, the revelation of a critical case, and the explanation of variations (Leedy & Ormrod, 2005). The case study approach also provides a way of studying human events and actions in their natural surroundings (Babbie, 2003). On the other hand, because phenomenon and context are not always distinguishable in real-life situations (Yin 2003), a whole set of other technical characteristics such as logic of design, data collection techniques and data analysis approach have been applied in the study.
The general characteristics of the case studies could be interpreted following two dimensions: the number of units of analysis and the number of cases (Yin 2003). Based on the number of units of analysis a case study can be holistic (single unit of analysis) or embedded (multiple unit of analysis). In addition, based on the number of cases, the design of the case study can be single (one case) or multiple (more than one cases). In this study, the focus is on a single case study.
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
This part of the study focuses on the analysis of a multinational company and how corporate communication has affected its corporate identity. The multinational company is a major U.S. based fast moving consumer goods Product Company, with 332 branches and around 6,300 employees. Senior management within this company had put a great effort into cultural-change initiatives with staff of all levels. These initiatives were aimed at creating a strong internal corporate identity, with emp`loyees sharing the same beliefs and values as the organisation.
In this case, quantitative research to examine the company’s corporate culture was undertaken within forty-eight branches. Within each branch, the research focused on the service providers consisting of two groups: the Customer/Client relations specialists (CRS), and the Client Consultants (CC). In each branch, one-third of all CC and CRS were surveyed, with a minimum sample of five being used in any one branch. In total, this meant a sample of 300 people. In order to reduce any bias in the selection of respondents, the participants were randomly selected by the study from listings of branch personnel.
An instrument to measure components of corporate culture was developed, following an earlier program of qualitative research with fifteen senior managers in ten U.S. companies, a detailed literature review, and a further program of in-depth interviews in the selected company. The result was a forty-seven-item instrument that assessed respondents’ service orientation, job motivation, role conflict, job satisfaction, and the climate of the branch as a place to work. The instrument was similar, in many ways, to instruments used by Cooke and Rousseau (1988) in their studies of corporate culture in the US.
The forty-seven items on the research instrument, representing norms, values, and behaviours, were classified into the following ten subgroups:
1. Satisfaction with the job and the employer;
2. Positive perceptions of the company’s reputation;
3. Conscientious and service-oriented personnel;
4. Involvement in sales and marketing tasks;
5. Operating as a team;
6. Supportive behaviour from branch managers;
7. Clear understanding of roles;
8. Consistency of orders and requests;
9. Work activities consistent with personal beliefs; and
10. Socializing with colleagues outside the workplace.
The internal consistency of these ten subgroups was tested and confirmed, using Cronbach’s coefficient alpha. The items were attached to a six-point scale on which respondents had to indicate the frequency (always, usually, fairly often, occasionally, rarely, never) with which certain behaviours or attitudes occurred. The design also allowed for checks on the consistency of a respondent’s answers. This self-completion research instrument was distributed to the 279 personnel within the 48 branches. Usable responses were received from 268 respondents.
The returns were analysed using SPSS software.
An analysis of the variance in the cultural ratings given by the staff in different branches was done. The F ratios and the significance levels in the table recommend that there are significant differences among branches in certain areas of behaviour and attitude. The differences between branches are significant at the 95 percent level with regard to the following items:
1. Supportive behaviour from CSMs (branch managers);
2. Team spirit;
3. Satisfaction with the job and the company;
4. Confidence in the company;
5. Socializing with colleagues outside the workplace;
6. Personal belief in work tasks.
On the other hand, the differences among branches were not significant at the 95 percent level with regard to:
I. A clear understanding of roles;
2. A customer orientation;
3. Consistency of orders and requests;
4. Involvement in sales and marketing tasks.
In considering these two groups of variables, the group where there is consistency across the company’s subsidiaries tends to relate to the clarity and nature of the tasks and roles that the service-delivery personnel are expected to perform. These are the elements that would tend to be set out on a company wide basis or stem from or be encouraged by the company’s head office. In other words, these are the elements that are more directly controlled and influenced by the company’s formal socialization process. The group of variables showing no company wide consistency relate to team building, supportive management, and commitment/satisfaction with the employer and the work environment. These are the elements that could potentially be more directly influenced at the branch level by the informal socialization process within the branches and the management and leadership skills of the branch manager (CSM).
These findings support the view that there is no overriding cultural consensus across the company. This is supported by the multivariate tests on variance shown in Table 3a where the Pillais, Hotellings, and Wilks multivariate tests of variance by branch all produced F values of between 1.57 and 1.66, all of which are significant at the 95 percent level. This means that the analysis of the combination of subscales that create the overall corporate culture identifies larger differences among the cultures of the branches than among the staff within the individual branches.
Although this may recommend that the company consists of subcultures relating to individual regional offices, it may also recommend that the culture of the company takes a fragmentation-type perspective where consensus only occurs in transient issue-specific ways. If consensus relates to issues rather than to employee groupings, then different employee groupings should also show consensus on these elements. In order to assess this situation, the ratings and their variance were examined relative to the positions of the respondents.
The multivariate tests do identify significant differences for the combination of cultural subscales between the ratings given by CRSs and the ratings given by CCs. On the other hand, the analysis of the individual cultural subscales identified significant differences between the ratings given by the CRSs and the ratings given by the CCs in only three of the subscales:
1. Supportive behaviour from CSMs;
2. Confidence in the company;
3. Involvement in sales and marketing tasks.
In all the other subscales, the differences among the individuals on the same grade of position were greater than the differences between the cultural attributes of the CCs and the CRSs, recommending that the branch is more likely to be the dominant differentiator in terms of culture.
In the three subscales where variation by position occurred, the CCs recorded higher frequencies of these activities or attitudes occurring. This is not too surprising, since the CC’s role is sales and marketing, so they should have confidence in the ability of the company to meet customer needs and are likely to have more involvement with the CSM in developing sales activity than will the CRSs.
Multivariate tests of significance on variance by branch end by position of respondent
Significance of F
B. Position of respondent
On the other hand, the differences in the ratings given for “supportive behaviour from CSMs” and “confidence in the company” are in subscales where there was no significant difference when the data were analysed by branch. This recommends that the level of cultural consensus does not relate to specific issues but instead relates to specific subcultures, whether they consist of individual branches or different levels of staff. In summary, the findings recommend that the company exists with companywide consensus on some issues and subcultural consensus on other issues. Contrary to the view of senior management, the research shows that employees may identify with a number of identities, including that of the company, their individual branch, their service team, and their job function.
The next part of the study deals with the use of the internet and its effects on corporate communication and how it has affected its potency in delivering the varying messages it is meant to deliver to the stakeholders. In accordance to our study, we focus on how a company and its subsidiary divisions are able to effectively utilise the internet in order to promote its corporate identity through various modes of corporate communication. As it has been proven in extant research that time and space no longer limit the amount of information and audience size. PR audience is becoming more diverse in an increasingly integrated global economy, with the attendant cultural barriers. This has caused several organisations to go beyond the conventional modes of corporate communication and utilise the internet as means of communicating with their different stakeholders.
The Internet, over the years has astronomically enhanced with PR feedback and evaluation, and virtual story telling. It is extending PR outreach programs, though in a more depersonalised and transitory environment. The new means is providing enhanced information delivery systems, not available just few years ago. A new societal communication culture has emerged because the new information technology is providing all with the easy access to vehicles of mass communication, which historically belonged to just few institutions. This contemporary social reality discourages PR practitioners to adopt the one-way communication model.
Stakeholders now have ready access to the mass media to tell their story from their own perspective and complain vehemently if necessary. This means that corporate transactions have been more and more transparent with the influx of this kind of communication medium. The meaning and definition of literacy in the New Information Age may have to be carefully reviewed. Audience literacy has always been very important in segmenting and understanding a public. The Information Age may be ushering in “document literacy.” It is the use of images, graphics, video, and audio to present information (Rafferty, 1999).
Internet therefore provides the unique opportunity for alphabetic illiterates to take control, digest, and understand a message through images, graphics, video, audio and other visual displays which the traditional media could not put together to effectively communicate. As the culture of the PR audience and information technology is altering, there is need to review the traditional PR and communication models that is used by corporations, in this case the companies. Like other aspects of the national life, there is a substantial lag between new information technology creation and theories and models that match the rapidly evolving social and communication landscape. PR specialists, across the industries are hell bent on catching up. This is also through for companies. Communication styles and paradigms which previously worked may be irrelevant in today’s global marketplace reality. In a very competitive marketplace, more so in an environment of downward economic trend, poor PR practice could be very costly.
The very ingenious kind of new media environment needs creative new approaches to accomplishing corporate communication goals and objectives. The invention of the mass media such as the printing press, radio, and television had always radically changed societal culture. They have all enhanced knowledge and empowered the poorer segment of the society. Computer technology may be playing similar revolutionary role but with different communication and relationship outcomes. The following are some of the ways that corporate communication may be directly affected by the new information technology.
In order to communicate effectively, a company has to have a solid and continuous line of communication with its relevant stakeholders. It was much easier for companies to clearly identify, define and segment their message receivers through the media of print, radio and television. This kinds of communication lines can be used by their investor relations specialists in order to determine the kind of method that is needed in order to get through their stakeholders. Advertisements could be placed in the right media followed by an accurate headcount of the message receivers. And some message content and timing could be controlled. Companies could fairly accurately measure the effectiveness of their advertising dollar and public relations efforts with the amount of investments that they are getting.
On the other hand, the advent of the Internet and other information technology is making audience definition and segmentation more difficult and highly diverse. The internet users has a very large and very varied demographic that goes across geography, national, cultural and even political boundaries. The possibility of audience flight from the traditional media to the new means may be adding to this audience definition problem. Nearly all the major media now have an online version of their message content free to Internet users, making it difficult for companies to clearly know some of their stakeholders. Every single company that has made some kind of effort in corporate communication has some kind of online version of their method of communication.
To achieve organisational goals, companies manage their message content, packaging and dissemination. Lack of a clear understanding of the target audience makes information design, packaging and diffusion difficult. The old forms of corporate communication were unidirectional in nature. Organisations were usually the senders of information and their audience the receivers. For the most part, organisations controlled and monopolised channels of communication. This provided companies with the opportunity to structure their message in conformity with the goals of the organisation. There was also opportunity to make messages consistent across multiple media channels. On the other hand, due to the fragmentation, complexity, time constraint and interactivity of computer communication, companies may be unable to carefully package their message and makes it consistent across all media channels. Internet communication is multi-directional in nature and very fast in transmission. Traditional companies that have long used the old means of corporate communication may find it very difficult to cope with the ever so changing internet mediums of communication.
Writing from the viewpoint of the audience when the audience is vaguely defined and remains elusive is an uphill battle for the corporate communicator. Easy access to the new information technology, such as the website, now empowers individuals to easily disseminate their viewpoints on anything, including their dealings with companies. This can be positive or negative comments. There are now rogue sites whose sole purpose is to spread rumours and vehemently attack a company’s image and reputation. Companies are prone to attack from disgruntled employees and market competitors under disguise can now use the computer technology to tell half-truths against companies in order to attack the companies corporate identity. To be successful, the corporate communicator has to know the target audience and its motivation in order to prepare receiver-centreed messages, and clearly identify the best channels of communication. Companies develop their message, based on the culture, needs and motivation of the target audience. On the other hand, a company using its website to communication cannot effectively segment its audience. The website can be viewed by the global audience who generally falls under what has been termed “low context” or “high context” communication style (Hall, 1976). Low context society, such as the US, wants the essence of a message clearly and quickly, while high context society, such as in the Arab countries, appreciates the nuances and uses the physical context of the message to attribute meaning.
While the corporate communicator could recognise and isolate institutional communication problems and determine campaign goals and objectives, in the new complex and more interactive media environment, it is difficult to create an effective public relations plan of action. With the unstructured nature of the Internet, corporate communicators may be unable to effectively predict campaign persuasion sequences and outcomes.
One of the advantages of the new computer age for the corporate communicator is information empowerment and uncertainly reduction. It also allows an organisation to share with the mass media, agenda-setting function.
Information becomes a greater asset if an organisation can take control, process, interpret and directly disseminate it. Corporate communicators may be shooting at a moving object. The emerging new communication trend could be compared with the impact of the printing press invention – the first mass communication – on the widespread diffusion of knowledge and the social change that followed. Early radio brought in social change in corporate and public communications. Radio ushered in new and creative ways for Companies to disseminate their information and relate to their target stakeholders. In the process, radio enhanced the stature and communicative abilities of companies. It enhanced public’s knowledge of the free enterprise system.
Radio greatly enhanced the marketing, promotional, advertising and public relations abilities of companies. In other regions, Companies through the means of their crisis communication managers were able to use the radio to clear up some public’s misunderstanding of its mission, operations, and place in the society. Early Companies sponsored radio programs to enhance their internal and external image. While radio gave more power to organisations, Internet is allowing them to share that power with their stakeholders. It is fostering two-way communication. The rapport between organisations and their stakeholders is becoming more interactive and multidirectional.
The coming of the internet in the scene for corporate communication is altering the meaning and process of corporate public relations. Information empowerment of the public has necessitated the need to shift away from the old PR paradigms. The new means has the power to maximise or minimise the quality of the relationship between companies and their relevant stakeholders. The outcome would depend on how companies perceive, react and use the new means.
The culture of corporate advertising, marketing, and promotion is altering how stakeholders perceive what the company is. Stakeholders now have ready means to deliver their complaints or praises. Brands can be instantly established or destroyed on the web. The information empowerment of the public does not negate the ability of an organisation to successfully relate to its various audience upon which its success or failure depends. Despite the multiplicity of channels, creative public relations are still needed in order to effectively utilise this kind of trend. Stakeholders still need organisations to inform, interpret, explain and make them understood so that the companies can address their needs effectively. When faced with serious financial allegation in some of this companies in the region, the company quickly used the Internet to provide needed information and also created links to that was related to the current issue.
With the multiplicity of channels, creative communication models are needed for companies to maximise their public relations efforts. PR Reporter (1999) pointed out that “PR has focused on ‘messages to marketplaces’ — but will become relationship-building.” One of the advantages of the new means is that companies now have the ability to deliver unfiltered information to their stakeholders and without time lag. They can communicate with their global stakeholders from their home offices without extra cost. On the other hand to achieve their public relations goals, they have to fully understand world communication cultures in order to avoid some unexpected rude awakening.
The last part presents the results of a survey conducted to acquire the views of a set of samples on the multinational company’s corporate communication and how the sample perceives it.
According to the results of the survey, the sample’s average age is 23.6 years old, with 87.5% of the sample indicating that they are students. Of the 87.5% that indicated that they are students, 71.5% are still taking their bachelors degree with the remaining 28.5% already taking their masters degree.
Part II of the survey focused on the awareness of the sample to corporate communication. Of the total number of people surveyed, 87.5% expressed that they have heard one form of corporate communication or the other and the remaining 12.5% was not able to identify any kind of corporate communication from the ones used by the company. Of the 87.5% that had indicated that they were able to hear about corporate communication, 6.25% indicated that the kind of corporate communication they were able to hear was about external communication. On the other hand, no one from the external sample was able to hear about corporate communication that is related to internal communication alone. Amazingly, 93.75% of the samples were able to come across corporate communication that highlighted both internal and external communication.
In order to provide a more comprehensive analysis on corporate communication, the study went on to identify the kind of topics being highlighted in the corporate communication. The table below presents the results of the survey.
Percentage seen in Corporate Communication
The company itself
In addition to this, the survey also identified the perception of the sample with respect to the corporate communication’s period if it is old or new. The table below presents the results of the survey.
Percentage answered by the sample
New (less than ten years)
Recent (less than 20 years)
It has existed for 50 years
It has always existed
Part III of the survey focused on what was the target of corporate communication as perceived by the sample. The table below presents the results of the survey when the sample was asked who in particular they believed corporate communication is for. Based on the survey, the highest ranking is customers with a rating of 22.4%. On the other hand, companies got the lowest rating of 8.95%.
In addition to determining the perception of the sample as to who in particular corporate communication is for, its role was also ranked and tallied based on the perception of the sample. The table below presents the results.
Rating, 1 being very little and 5 a lot (Percentage of the sample)
To mould the company’s image
Rating of 4 (4.5%)
To alert of events or changes
Rating of 3 (3.75%)
To make understood working ways
Rating of 3 (3.46%)
To change the view of the company
Rating of 3 (3.5%)
To insure transparency of the company
Rating of 3 (3.5%)
To give financial details
Rating of 2 (2.25%)
The other section of the survey tried to identify the perception of a sample as to the involvement of a specific department under the company towards corporate communication. Based on the results, 50% believed that there is a specific department or function within companies that manage corporate communication. Of the 50% that agreed that there is a specific function towards the management of corporate communication, the table below presents the type of department which the sample believes should handle corporate communication management.
Finance / accounting
After sales service
Research and development
As for the medium, the survey also acquired the perception of the sample as to the most effective medium of corporate communication in order to meet the samples. The table below presents the results of the survey pertaining to this aspect of the study.
Advert by Journal
Lastly, the sample’s general perception of corporate communication was taken. In the survey, the sample was asked if they found that they strong agreed, agreed, disagreed or strongly disagreed with corporate communication being interesting, attractive, efficient and important. The table below presents the results of the survey.
The findings of both case studies have implications for corporate-identity research, scholarship, and consultancy. Both studies revealed that (1) personnel identified with more than one identity, and (2) personnel identified with noncorporate identities, such as their job function, as well as their professional and departmental/divisional culture. Therefore, we conclude that the basis of corporate-identity formation, management, and consultancy based on establishing a single corporate culture needs to be reappraised. What both studies reveal is that corporate identity is multifaceted and complex; the mix of identities with which staff identify forms the corporate personality, and it is this that provides the cornerstone of every organisation’s identity. Therefore, management’s goal to have an organisation’s corporate values and attitudes shared by all personnel may be unattainable. From this, we conclude that it may be more appropriate to speak of an organisation’s corporate identities, rather than of a single identity.
The results of both case studies have identified that there is certainly a need for further intraorganisational studies looking at the existence and effect of different identities within organisations. There is also scope for the development of a methodology that reveals staff identification to corporate and noncorporate identities. For example, research that compares the success of corporate-identity management and change programs that take into account questions of staff identification compared with those that ignore staff identification is likely to be useful.
In terms of corporate-identity scholarship, both marketers and organisational behaviourists have a great deal to learn from each other. Organisational behaviourists may usefully examine the bottom-line effects, positioning, and competitive advantage of understanding staff identification. For their part, marketers need to be more sensitive to questions of culture and staff identification when discussing questions of corporate branding, corporate communication programs, and corporate marketing management.
Internet has not altered the expected communications and public relations outcome that allows an organisation to adequately and effectively reach and communicate with its stakeholders. Even though there is less dependence on the mass media to disseminate information and reach the public, organisations still need to maintain good working relationship with them. Companies still need to maintain a solid means of communication to their stakeholders. The society still uses the media to get information, discuss contemporary events, and interpret issues. Edward J. Lordan (1999) advises public relations practitioners not to let any part of their communications plan wither on the vine. It could also include the new means’s impact on national and global societies.
On the other hand, the internet is a breeding ground for false PR that can significantly damage the corporate identity of a company. Being practically un-secure and free for everyone to use, companies are prone to attacks directed to the company itself that may affect the perception of the stakeholders and may potentially be the reason for the stakeholders to pull out their investment and can ruin the company’s future. It will be extremely difficult for the company and its corporate communicator to identify and apprehend internet users that attack the very foundation of the company.
Finally, corporate-identity consultancies need to reassess the rationale, processes, and outcomes of their corporate-identity change programs. It would appear that too many projects are vision driven and aim to communicate or nurture a single corporate culture. Such consultancies need to understand the organisation’s actual identity and give greater attention to questions of corporate culture. In other words, consultancies need to assign at least the same degree of importance to culture with regard to research and outcomes as they give to questions of visual identification. The overriding message from this analysis is that it is naive, if not somewhat dangerous, for managers to consider identity a corporate resource that can be easily managed and manipulated. Instead, corporate identity is a complex phenomenon.
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