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Internal communication and innovation culture: developing a change framework

Anne Linke (Institute of Communication and Media Studies, University of Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany)
Ansgar Zerfass (Institute of Communication and Media Studies, University of Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany)

Journal of Communication Management

ISSN: 1363-254X

Article publication date: 15 November 2011




Since employees are considered to be one of the most important sources for innovation, the purpose of this study is to create a change management framework for implementing an innovation culture by means of internal communication.


First, an interdisciplinary model was derived from research and existing literature. It was then tested in a case study with qualitative expert interviews and a quantitative online survey among all employees of a sample firm.


Instead of a linear change, as implied by the theoretical model, different identification levels existed simultaneously within the firm's culture. A typology summed up the corresponding perceptions of the innovation culture: innovation culture, innovation pioneers, mediocrity, standstill, and refusal. Significant correlations between identification and internal media (r=0.405), as well as identification and action (r=0.158) underlined the importance of internal communication.

Research limitations/implications

This study only explores the topic from a communication science perspective. However, examining its link to other important factors like organisational structure would provide further insight. Also, research in different countries and fields is needed, since the results of this case study cannot be considered representative.

Practical implications

The goal of communication managers should be to lead employees through the phases of identification by specifically targeting their identification levels and using the appropriate media to address the findings.


The developed framework helps as a management tool for assessing how employees perceive messages of an innovation philosophy and internal media. By linking the internal, innovation, and change communication, it identifies new essential aspects for creating a communication mix and specifically communicating with the target‐group.



Linke, A. and Zerfass, A. (2011), "Internal communication and innovation culture: developing a change framework", Journal of Communication Management, Vol. 15 No. 4, pp. 332-348.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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