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The significance of communicating in enacting decisions

Hartmut Huebner (University of Salford, Manchester, UK)
Richard Varey (University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand)
Laurie Wood (University of Salford, Manchester, UK)

Journal of Communication Management

ISSN: 1363-254X

Article publication date: 25 July 2008




Rational modes of decision‐making, followed by communication of the decision to stakeholders, leading to implementation of the decision is taken as a given in most management theories. The role of corporate communication managers in many cases is to support this process via standard communication tools. This study aims to challenge the efficacy of this model by drawing on discourse and strategy‐as‐practice perspectives in order to explain the link between managed communication and performance in terms of enacting decisions.


Following an ethnographic case study approach, the research analyses communication discourse at Intech, a major international conglomerate based in Germany. Data was collected over a period of 15 months, structured and thematic analysis conducted, supported by ATLAS.ti computer‐aided qualitative data analysis software. Methods of discourse analysis were applied in order to explain concrete practices.


A key contribution is to provide a framework that enables researchers and practitioners to understand in‐depth the setting in which decision‐related communication takes place, as recently demanded by Suchan and Charles (2006). Three critical fields of action for effective communication and strategy implementation are identified: giving decisions voice; facilitating the legitimisation process for decisions; and developing alternatives to cascading as a mode of decision implementation.

Research implications/limitations

Researchers may adopt the alternative view of corporate communication proposed and test or apply it in further case studies or in more large‐scale, perhaps quantitatively oriented research projects across companies and cultural boundaries.

Practical implications

For practitioners, a key challenge lies in implementing modes of legitimisation into managed communication.


This paper makes the case for an alternative approach to enacting decisions via practices of managed communication, based on the insights gained from the Intech case.



Huebner, H., Varey, R. and Wood, L. (2008), "The significance of communicating in enacting decisions", Journal of Communication Management, Vol. 12 No. 3, pp. 204-223.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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