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Enhancing employee communication behaviors for sensemaking and sensegiving in crisis situations: Strategic management approach for effective internal crisis communication

Young Kim (J. William and Mary Diederich College of Communication, Marquette University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA)

Journal of Communication Management

ISSN: 1363-254X

Article publication date: 3 August 2018

Issue publication date: 24 October 2018

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore the organizational effectiveness of internal crisis communication within the strategic management approach, whether it enhanced voluntary and positive employee communication behaviors (ECBs) for sensemaking and sensegiving. By doing so, this study provides meaningful insight into: new crisis communication theory development that takes a strategic management approach, emphasizing employees’ valuable assets from an organization, and effective crisis communication practice that reduces misalignment with employees and that enhances voluntary and positive ECBs for the organization during a crisis.

Design/methodology/approach

This study conducted a nationwide survey in the USA among full-time employees (n=544). After dimensionality check through confirmatory factor analysis, this study tested hypothesis and research question by conducting ordinary least squares multiple regression analyses using STATA 13.

Findings

This study found that strategic internal communication factors, including two-way symmetrical communication and transparent communication, were positive and strong antecedents of ECBs for sensemaking and sensegiving in crisis situations, when controlling for other effects. The post hoc analysis confirmed theses positive and strong associations across different industry areas.

Originality/value

This study suggests that voluntary and valuable ECBs can be enhanced by listening and responding to employee concerns and interests; encouraging employee participation in crisis communication; and organizational accountability through words, actions and decisions during the crisis. As a theoretical implication, the results of this study indicate the need for crisis communication theories that emphasize employees as valuable assets to an organization.

Keywords

Citation

Kim, Y. (2018), "Enhancing employee communication behaviors for sensemaking and sensegiving in crisis situations: Strategic management approach for effective internal crisis communication", Journal of Communication Management, Vol. 22 No. 4, pp. 451-475. https://doi.org/10.1108/JCOM-03-2018-0025

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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