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Content or Connections? Socio-Semantic Analysis of Leaders' Communication Styles in a Creative Collective

Aesthetics and Style in Strategy

ISBN: 978-1-80043-237-6, eISBN: 978-1-80043-236-9

Publication date: 9 November 2020


In small group settings, is it the position in social networks or the content of communication that constitutes a leader? Studies focussing on the content suggest that leadership consists in creating and promoting meanings, whereas studies focussing on the connections stress that it is the network position that ‘makes a leader’. These two dimensions of leadership communication style have not been compared yet. To fill this gap, this chapter applies an emerging approach – socio-semantic network analysis – to jointly consider the content of, and the connections, in leaders' communication. Using a multisource dataset, we empirically study the social network positions (social network analysis) and the content of communication (semantic network analysis) of three leaders in a creative collective. Our findings reveal that different styles of leadership make diverse use of the content and the connections in a small group. The academic and practical implications are outlined.




The study was supported by Russian Foundation for Humanities (15-03-00722 “Coevolution of knowledge and communication networks: structural dynamics of creative collectives in European cultural capitals”, 2015–2017), Russian Foundation for Basic Research (18-011-00796 “Dynamic of Sociocultural Network Structures”, 2018–2020), and The Centre for German and European Studies (Bielefeld University, St. Petersburg State University, and German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) with funds from the German Foreign Office). The authors express their gratitude to those who helped in data collection and processing: Aleksandra Nenko, Olga Volkova, Maria Veits, and Olga Nikiforova.


Basov, N., Antonyuk, A. and Hellsten, I. (2020), "Content or Connections? Socio-Semantic Analysis of Leaders' Communication Styles in a Creative Collective", Cattani, G., Ferriani, S., Godart, F. and Sgourev, S.V. (Ed.) Aesthetics and Style in Strategy (Advances in Strategic Management, Vol. 42), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 101-118.



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