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Leadership strategies and internal communication in public organizations

Christian Bøtcher Jacobsen (Department of Management, Aarhus University, Aarhus C, Denmark)
Heidi Houlberg Salomonsen (Department of Management, Aarhus Universitet, Herning, Denmark)

International Journal of Public Sector Management

ISSN: 0951-3558

Article publication date: 24 December 2020

Issue publication date: 15 February 2021




Leadership can cultivate shared understandings of goals within organizations. Transformational leaders engage in vision-sharing, whereas transactional leaders apply contingent rewards and sanctions. To set the stage for better performing organizations, public managers could lead in ways to improve the communication that flows internally in public organizations, defined as the internal communication performance. Previous studies have linked transformational leadership with internal communication performance in public organizations, but no studies have considered the broader array of leadership strategies and their combination. The purpose of this study is to assess the strength of the relationship between different forms of leadership (transformational and transactional) and internal communication.


The study is based on a balanced panel dataset of 751 employees.


The analysis corroborates the existing findings of a relationship between transformational and internal communication, and it identifies a relationship between transactional leadership through verbal rewards and internal communication.


In so doing, the study brings new insights to our understanding of how leaders in public organizations can improve the internal communication in their organizations, which has been linked to, among others, how employees themselves perceive the red tape and performance within public organizations.



Funding: Funding for this research was provided by the Danish Council for Independent Research, grant no. 1327-00015B.


Jacobsen, C.B. and Salomonsen, H.H. (2021), "Leadership strategies and internal communication in public organizations", International Journal of Public Sector Management, Vol. 34 No. 2, pp. 137-154.



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