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Understanding the impacts of issue types and employee–organization relationships on employees’ problem perceptions and communicative behaviors

Yeunjae Lee (University of Miami, Coral Gables, Florida, USA)
Katie Haejung Kim (Seoul National University, Seoul, South Korea)
Jeong-Nam Kim (The University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma, USA)

Corporate Communications: An International Journal

ISSN: 1356-3289

Article publication date: 31 July 2019

Issue publication date: 31 July 2019

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine the impact of different types of corporate issues and employee–organization relationships (EORs) on employees’ perceptions of the issues and on their communicative actions. Specifically, this study investigates how employees who have experienced an internal or an external issue within their organizations differently perceive the organizational issue and engage in positive and/or negative communicative behaviors.

Design/methodology/approach

An online survey was conducted with 363 full-time employees in large-sized companies in the USA who have experienced any internal or external issues within the past six months.

Findings

Employees are more cognitively aware of and feel more involved and less constrained in solving an internal company issue than an external one. Experiencing internal issues has led employees to share negative information about their organization externally. The quality of EORs pre-issue significantly increases employees’ involvement and positive communication behavior and decreases constraint levels and negative communication behaviors regarding an issue.

Practical implications

Corporate communication and public relations practitioners should incorporate strategic internal communication strategies to preemptively manage internal issues and to avoid them from evolving into internal crises.

Originality/value

This study is among the first to distinguish internal and external issues perceived by internal stakeholders and to examine their impacts on employees’ issue-specific perceptions and communicative behaviors. This study also provides significant practical guidelines for corporate communication practitioners and leaders by explicating the strategic role of issue type and employee behaviors in issue management.

Keywords

Citation

Lee, Y., Kim, K.H. and Kim, J.-N. (2019), "Understanding the impacts of issue types and employee–organization relationships on employees’ problem perceptions and communicative behaviors", Corporate Communications: An International Journal, Vol. 24 No. 3, pp. 553-568. https://doi.org/10.1108/CCIJ-12-2018-0127

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited