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Internal communication for employee enablement: Strategies in American and Italian companies

Alessandra Mazzei (IULM University, Milan, Italy)

Corporate Communications: An International Journal

ISSN: 1356-3289

Article publication date: 28 January 2014




This paper aims to understand if, and how, internal communication strategies can promote strategic employee communicative actions such as to disseminate positive information that enhances the company's reputation. These communicative actions sustain the competitive advantage of a company.


This paper is based on interviews with internal communication experts; internal communication managers in ten American and 22 Italian companies. Three focus groups in Italy comprised of internal communication managers, scholars and experts.


Employee communicative actions have been categorized into: exploration, interpretation, sharing and acting. Internal communication strategies enable employees to be effective communicators.

Research limitations/implications

A survey among employees was used to investigate the link between employee communicative actions and internal communication and relationship quality.

Practical implications

Internal communication managers are expected first, to become enablers towards employees and line managers; and second, to facilitate sense-making processes and the quality relationship building.


This article provides empirical evidence of the emerging issues of employee communicative actions and the enablement function of internal communication. It adds a broader and validated range of employee communicative actions to those that had previously been studied, and develops a preliminary inventory of enablement strategies that have been adopted by leading companies.



The research project, “Internal communication for employee enablement”, was carried out in 2011 by the Internal Communication Laboratory at IULM University in cooperation with the Baruch College/CUNY and supported by Ascai, Ferrero, Henkel Italia, Hogg Robinson Italia, IBM Italia, illycaffè, Iper, la grande i, Micron Technology, Natuzzi Group, Porsche Italia and Unicoop Firenze.


Mazzei, A. (2014), "Internal communication for employee enablement: Strategies in American and Italian companies", Corporate Communications: An International Journal, Vol. 19 No. 1, pp. 82-95.



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