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Employees as ambassadors: embracing new role expectations and coping with identity-tensions

Rickard Andersson (Department of Strategic Communication, Lund University, Helsingborg, Sweden)

Corporate Communications: An International Journal

ISSN: 1356-3289

Article publication date: 20 September 2019

Issue publication date: 20 September 2019




To provide an employee perspective on ambassadorship in the context of corporate communication, the purpose of this paper is to explore how employees relate to and experience ambassadorship.


The study has a qualitative approach, and the empirical material consists of semi-structured interviews with, and focus groups of, employees of seven organizations in both the public and private sectors. The paper draws on a contemporary understanding of identity where identity is perceived as an ongoing reflexive process in which employees negotiate and construct of their selves through relating to role expectations and interacting with others. Therefore, ambassadorship is understood as a social-identity, or persona, that is referenced by employees in their identity work.


The findings indicate that employees embrace this persona as they imagine that external stakeholders, colleagues and managers expect it of them. However, the ambassador persona also gives rise to identity-tensions both during work and off work.

Research limitations/implications

The paper contributes a novel way to understand ambassadorship as well as highlighting some of the more problematic aspects of it and furthering the understanding of the concept.

Practical implications

The findings highlight that ambassadorship can have problematic consequences that needs to be addressed. They suggest that the employee perspective should be taken into consideration in internal communication education and training.


The paper contributes a novel employee perspective on ambassadorship.



The author would like to thank the two anonymous reviewers for their insightful feedback on earlier versions of this paper. The research project in which the empirical data were collected was co-funded by eleven Swedish public and private organizations and The Swedish Association of Communication Professionals.


Andersson, R. (2019), "Employees as ambassadors: embracing new role expectations and coping with identity-tensions", Corporate Communications: An International Journal, Vol. 24 No. 4, pp. 702-716.



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