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Article
Publication date: 7 August 2017

Francesca Conte, Alfonso Siano and Agostino Vollero

The purpose of this paper is to analyse the engagement of chief executive officers (CEOs) in corporate communication and focus on how their approach to communication

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1533

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to analyse the engagement of chief executive officers (CEOs) in corporate communication and focus on how their approach to communication develops in relation to the longevity of their tenure. The paper also explores how founder centrality is linked to the objectives of CEO communication and the CEOs’ use of personal social media.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper brings together the relevant literature from different disciplines, related to leadership communication, CEO longevity and founder centrality, and reveals a number of unexplored issues. Four research questions were defined and an exploratory survey was carried out, involving 93 CEOs from large companies located in Italy.

Findings

The results show that CEOs are strongly engaged in institutional communication. Short-tenured CEOs seem more engaged in building and consolidating relationship networks with specific stakeholders (customers and employees), while long-tenured CEOs tend to be more involved in institutional and financial communications.

Research limitations/implications

Due to the exploratory research design and the circumscribed sample from a single country (Italy), further cross-national evidence is needed to substantiate the suggested links between engagement in communication activities and longevity. The study highlights the managerial and communication skills that CEOs must be provided with during their corporate tenure, thus suggesting the need to further examine the “life cycle” of CEO communication activities.

Originality/value

The paper sheds light on CEO communication dynamics. It is the first of its kind in the Italian context, where some factors, such as longevity of tenure, seem to play an important role in shaping corporate communication objectives and activities.

Details

Corporate Communications: An International Journal, vol. 22 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1356-3289

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Article
Publication date: 1 February 2016

Ansgar Zerfass, Dejan Verčič and Markus Wiesenberg

The purpose of this paper is to examine the practices of positioning Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) and other top executives in the public sphere and approaches to manage…

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6182

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine the practices of positioning Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) and other top executives in the public sphere and approaches to manage their communication activities.

Design/methodology/approach

A neo-institutional framework is used to explain the growth of CEO positioning in mediatisated societies. Research questions are derived from previous research and tested in a quantitative online survey with 512 heads of corporate communication in 21 countries across Europe and a qualitative survey with 42 communication leaders in 12 countries.

Findings

The majority of companies position their CEOs and/or other top executives, but only a minority guide these activities through a sound management process. European CEOs are primarily presented based on their functional and ethical competencies. A minority of communication leaders prefer the uniform positioning of their CEOs in different markets; others argue for localised approaches. More companies in high-power distance countries have a specific communication strategy for their CEOs, compared to companies in low-power distance countries. Significant differences were also identified between listed and privately owned companies.

Research limitations/implications

The study indicates the importance of CEO positioning from the perspective of corporate communication leaders. Investigating the expectations and experiences of CEOs themselves might provide additional insights.

Originality/value

The paper presents the first large-scale study on CEO positioning, informs practitioners on the state of practice in Europe and identifies knowledge that can be integrated into education of business and communications students alike.

Details

Journal of Communication Management, vol. 20 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1363-254X

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Article
Publication date: 17 July 2019

Cen April Yue, Patrick Thelen, Katy Robinson and Linjuan Rita Men

The purpose of this paper is to compare Fortune 200 and top startup chief executive officers’ (CEOs) communication strategies on Twitter and the effectiveness of these…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to compare Fortune 200 and top startup chief executive officers’ (CEOs) communication strategies on Twitter and the effectiveness of these strategies in influencing public engagement. Specifically, guided by the dialogic communication theory and social presence theory, this study explored CEOs’ use of dialogic communication, social presence strategies and message tactics. Additionally, public engagement on Twitter measured by total number of likes, retweets and comments was associated with communication strategies utilized by CEOs.

Design/methodology/approach

This study employed the quantitative content analysis. A total sample of 720 posts from 36 CEOs were selected and analyzed. Drawing from prior studies, a coding scheme was developed and employed during the coding process. Two authors of this study served as coders and reached satisfactory inter-coder reliability. A series of χ2 tests and negative binomial regressions were conducted for data analysis.

Findings

Neither Fortune 200 CEOs nor top startup CEOs fully utilized dialogic principles for Twitter communication. Although Fortune CEOs seemed to be experts in strategically tailoring messages and therefore present themselves on Twitter in a friendly manner, startup CEOs demonstrated a higher level of authenticity, animation and informality. Findings are mixed regarding the direction of associations between dialogic principles and public engagement.

Originality/value

This study expands the application of dialogic principles in examining online executive communication and its influence in public engagement on Twitter. This study was among the first that examined executive leadership communication in the context of social media setting. In this sense, the study shifted the internal focus of leadership research to investigating leaders’ interaction with a variety of online publics.

Details

Corporate Communications: An International Journal, vol. 24 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1356-3289

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Article
Publication date: 6 February 2018

Lei Vincent Huang and Tien Ee Dominic Yeo

To better understand executive communication on social media, the purpose of this paper is to examine the pattern of messages posted by chief executive officers (CEOs) on…

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1927

Abstract

Purpose

To better understand executive communication on social media, the purpose of this paper is to examine the pattern of messages posted by chief executive officers (CEOs) on Twitter and their retweetability (rate of reposting by other users).

Design/methodology/approach

The study data comprises 1,068 original tweets randomly selected from all Fortune 1000 CEOs’ tweets in 2014. The impact of the contextual factors (industry background, activeness, and Twitter age) and content factors (content types, supplementary information, and linguistic features) on retweetability was examined through regression analyses.

Findings

CEOs tweet to share information and insights, to promote their companies or products, to update work or life status, and to interact with the public. Original insights, promotional messages, and seasonal greetings were most likely to be retweeted. CEOs’ backgrounds, usage of hashtags, and certainty of language were also positively associated with retweetability.

Practical implications

CEOs may enhance their online social influence through demonstrating leadership by sharing insights about their organization or industry and posting topical messages (e.g. season’s greetings). Furthermore, CEOs could use hashtags strategically to initiate or participate in discussions and promote their personal visibility.

Originality/value

This study is one of the first to evaluate how leaders of the largest companies in the USA communicate on Twitter. It contributes to a theoretical understanding of the factors underlying online influence – the influence of the status of the online communicator vs the message content on information forwarding.

Details

Internet Research, vol. 28 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1066-2243

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Article
Publication date: 3 August 2015

Ansgar Zerfass and Muschda Sherzada

The purpose of this paper is to explore the perceptions and expectations of chief executive officers (CEOs) and executive board members concerning: the relevance of public…

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8504

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore the perceptions and expectations of chief executive officers (CEOs) and executive board members concerning: the relevance of public opinion and contribution of communication performance to organizational success, the communicative role of top executives and their interaction with professional communicators, the objectives and values of corporate communications, and the importance of various disciplines and instruments.

Design/methodology/approach

A quantitative survey was conducted among top executives of listed and private companies operating in the largest European country, Germany (n=602).

Findings

The study identifies a traditional mindset: top executives focus on primary stakeholders (customers, employees) instead of secondary stakeholders (politicians, activists), they value mass media higher than social media, and they rate speaking more important than listening. Moreover, communication professionals are not always the first choice when CEOs and board members reflect on the topics at hand. Advanced visions of strategic communication developed in academia and practice have not yet arrived in many boardrooms.

Research limitations/implications

The sample is not representative for all CEOs in corporations and it is limited to one country.

Originality/value

While the performance of corporate communications depends heavily on the perceptions, beliefs, and expectations that top executives hold towards communication and its contribution to organizational goal, little is known about this. Most knowledge is based on qualitative interviews and small-scale samples. This study provides an overview of previous insights and takes a broader empirical approach.

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Article
Publication date: 30 May 2018

Ruoxu Wang and Yan Huang

The purpose of this paper is to examine the effects of message source and types of corporate social responsibility (CSR) message on stakeholder’s perception toward CSR and…

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4334

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine the effects of message source and types of corporate social responsibility (CSR) message on stakeholder’s perception toward CSR and behavioral intention toward the company.

Design/methodology/approach

A 2 (message source: CEO’s Facebook account vs organization’s Facebook account) × 3 (types of CSR messages: internal CSR vs external CSR vs control) between-subjects online experiment (n=242) was conducted online.

Findings

Internal CSR message elicited greater perceptions of trust, satisfaction, control mutuality, and commitment toward the organization among the stakeholders than the external CSR message and the CEO’s personal life message. A significant two-way interaction between the message source and the type of CSR message on behavior intention toward the organization was obtained.

Originality/value

Internal CSR message does matter when it comes to social media posting. The general public do pay attention to what the CEO and the organizations are posting on their social media accounts. Message source does not matter when it comes to social media message posting. However, organizations and CEOs should try to stay consistent when it comes to creating a public CSR message.

Details

Corporate Communications: An International Journal, vol. 23 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1356-3289

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Article
Publication date: 21 October 2021

Tong Wu, Jonathan Reynolds, Jintao Wu and Bodo B. Schlegelmilch

This study aims to analyze the ways in which chief executive officers (CEOs) communicate via Twitter and help develop guidelines for effective tweeting strategies that can…

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to analyze the ways in which chief executive officers (CEOs) communicate via Twitter and help develop guidelines for effective tweeting strategies that can leverage Twitter in leadership communication.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors conduct a large-scale content analysis of more than 65,000 tweets by 338 CEOs.

Findings

The authors propose a model that categorizes differences in CEO tweets along six independent dimensions: content professionalism, language professionalism, emotional valence, emotion activation, interactional efforts and information cues. The authors also develop coding schemes and measurement scales for each dimension.

Originality/value

This study provides a multi-dimensional paradigm as well as useful tools for future research on corporate leadership communication on social media.

Details

Online Information Review, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1468-4527

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Article
Publication date: 28 September 2012

Magalie Marais

The purpose of this paper is to explore CEO corporate social responsibility (CSR) rhetorical choices in response to stakeholder pressures. CEOs often search for legitimacy…

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3487

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore CEO corporate social responsibility (CSR) rhetorical choices in response to stakeholder pressures. CEOs often search for legitimacy through CSR rhetoric. It contributes to maintaining or developing pragmatic, moral and cognitive legitimacy in a post‐crisis world where CSR concerns are gaining in importance.

Design/methodology/approach

A content analysis of various CEO discourses is performed. Press articles are analyzed to identify the nature of stakeholder pressures. Covariance analyses are conducted to study how CEO CSR rhetorical strategies vary between communication channels dedicated to specific stakeholders. Regression analyses are conducted between stakeholder pressures and rhetorical strategies.

Findings

The paper identifies three types of CEO CSR rhetorical categories: values rhetoric to develop moral legitimacy, normative rhetoric to improve cognitive legitimacy, and instrumental rhetoric to enhance pragmatic legitimacy. Values CSR rhetoric is used most often with employees or societal stakeholders. It increases when stakeholders' satisfaction is already quite high regarding financial performance, strategy, and products and services. Normative CSR rhetoric is rarely used. It is only devoted to societal stakeholders and it increases with stakeholder satisfaction with the quality of management, leadership and governance. Instrumental CSR rhetoric is mainly used with boards of directors, financial investors and shareholders. Its importance increases with stakeholder satisfaction with CSR but decreases with stakeholder satisfaction with financial performance and corporate vision/strategy.

Originality/value

The paper provides key contributions for CEOs on how to communicate on CSR. The empirical design based on qualitative and quantitative analyses innovates in operationalizing CSR rhetorical categories and stakeholder pressures.

Details

Society and Business Review, vol. 7 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1746-5680

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Article
Publication date: 5 October 2015

Anne Toppinen, Vasylysa Hänninen and Katja Lähtinen

The purpose of this paper is to examine the content and determinants of voluntary corporate social responsibility (CSR) disclosures within chief executive officer (CEO

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine the content and determinants of voluntary corporate social responsibility (CSR) disclosures within chief executive officer (CEO) letters and social media tools.

Design/methodology/approach

Published CEO letters and the presence of global pulp and paper manufacturing companies in the social media in 2012 are analysed in this study using content analysis. Furthermore, multiple regression analysis is used to investigate the impact played by headquarter location, firm size and lagged profitability as a measure of slack resources on the quality of CSR disclosure.

Findings

Company size and slack resources were found to increase the quality of traditional sustainability communication, whereas company size was the only significant factor explaining communication quality in social media usage. Environmental issues were the most common disclosure topic, accompanied by community issues. A curvilinear association was interestingly found between slack resources and communication quality.

Research limitations/implications

The sample frame was selected from the 100 largest pulp and paper companies globally, and for better generalization, future research should aim at also analyzing data from small and medium enterprises and from other industries.

Practical implications

Findings of the paper are useful for firm self-evaluation and benchmarking of disclosure activities by other businesses across the pulp and paper industry.

Social implications

Slack company resources improve communication quality and the effective utilization of multiple channels.

Originality/value

This paper incorporates the framework of the new ISO 26000 standard in CSR implementation and illustrates the growing importance of social media in communicating CSR.

Details

Social Responsibility Journal, vol. 11 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1747-1117

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Article
Publication date: 5 August 2021

Salah Aldain Abdullah Alshorman and Martin Shanahan

This study examines the association between firm profitability and the “voice” of the CEO measured through tones they convey in their annual letter to shareholders. The…

Abstract

Purpose

This study examines the association between firm profitability and the “voice” of the CEO measured through tones they convey in their annual letter to shareholders. The paper examines whether the tones corresponds to a firm's profitability and the extent to which CEO tone varies with changes in profitability.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors analyze 187 Australian CEOs communications in 748 annual letters to their shareholders between 2010 and 2013. Two-word lists created by previous researchers are used to assess tones for their positive-negative plurality, uncertainty and use of modal words. Firm profitability is identified using return on assets. The authors examine the relationship between profitability and tones using simple ANOVA as well as a linear mixed model and then a change (differences) model. The change model captures any inertia or genre effect in the CEO letter to shareholders.

Findings

Using both the level and change model, the authors find that firm profitability is associated with CEO's tones that are more optimistic and less pessimistic. The authors also find that the use of negative words has more communicative value than positive words or “net” positive words. The authors also observe some genre effect when CEOs use strong modal words.

Research limitations/implications

The sample is restricted to a selection of Australian firms that had the same CEO for the fiscal years 2010–2013; which reported in each financial year and which survived the global financial crisis. Generalizing the findings to other periods, types of firms, or to CEOs with shorter tenure, might be questionable. This study was conducted in Australia, which may limit the applicability of the findings to other jurisdictions.

Practical implications

The significant link between firm profitability and CEOs' use of positive, net positive and negative words implies that investors may place reliance on the use of these tones in the CEO's annual letter to accurately reflect the profitability of the firm.

Originality/value

The study extends the existing literature by examining whether a change in firm profitability is linked to a change in CEO tone. It concludes that even in periods of general financial stress, shareholders should be confident that CEOs' letters to shareholders provide credible information that corresponds to firm performance.

Details

Corporate Communications: An International Journal, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1356-3289

Keywords

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