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Communicating the corporate strategy: An international benchmark study in the UK, the USA, and Germany

Karolin Köhler (Department of Corporate Communications, Beiersdorf AG, Hamburg, Germany)
Ansgar Zerfass (Institute of Communication and Media Studies, Leipzig University, Leipzig, Germany)

Journal of Communication Management

ISSN: 1363-254X

Article publication date: 2 September 2019

Issue publication date: 28 October 2019

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to address an important but seldom explored field of study: the communication of corporate strategies to external and internal stakeholders. The relevance of the topic can be tracked both in communication studies and in management research, but empirical insights are rare. The paper addresses this research gap by asking: How do listed companies in key industrial markets communicate publicly about their corporate strategy?

Design/methodology/approach

A comprehensive content analysis of corporate websites was conducted for a sample of the 20 largest listed companies in the UK, the USA and Germany (n=60). The subsequent benchmark analysis has identified best practices and highlighted them in detail.

Findings

The study revealed significant differences between companies and countries in the sample for most of the dimensions. Cross-country comparisons confirm these differences statistically: German companies score significantly higher in the benchmark than British or US companies.

Practical implications

This paper outlines quality criteria for professional strategy communication, helping practitioners to improve their activities and contribute to organizational goals.

Originality/value

The study offers a holistic approach to strategy communication by providing an interdisciplinary theoretical foundation as well as insights into corporate practice, with the aim of laying the ground for further research and discussion in both academia and practice.

Keywords

Citation

Köhler, K. and Zerfass, A. (2019), "Communicating the corporate strategy: An international benchmark study in the UK, the USA, and Germany", Journal of Communication Management, Vol. 23 No. 4, pp. 348-374. https://doi.org/10.1108/JCOM-10-2018-0106

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited