Clarity and ambiguity in strategic corporate communication

Publikation: KonferencebidragPaperForskningpeer review


Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to examine the co-existence of clarity and ambiguity in strategic corporate communication.

Design/methodology/approach – An exploratory study using interpretive discourse analysis of interviews with employees at a corporate communication department to examine how they perceived the writing, reading and enactment of their organization’s new corporate communication strategy.

Findings – The analysis reveals the presence of both clarity and ambiguity in the employees’ understanding of the strategy. Both in terms of formulation and implementation. For instance, there is clarity on the main objectives of the strategy, but ambiguity in relation to how they should be achieved and the extent to which they represent a shift in focus or not. Though this co-presence might cause the members to feel a lack of ownership, it does not impede the department’s practices as they are decoupled from the strategy itself.

Research limitations/implications – As the findings are based on a study of the understanding and practice of corporate communication strategy in one concrete organization, the study points to the need for additional explorations and examinations of ambiguity in strategic corporate communication.

Originality/value – Despite numerous studies on the presence of ambiguity in strategy making in the neighbouring field of strategic management, the majority of strategic corporate communication literature largely treats ambiguity as something that should be absent. This has caused the field largely to ignore its presence, beyond something that should be avoided. In this paper however, it is argued that it is not a question of either/or, rather that in strategic corporate communication both clarity and ambiguity will be present, without it (necessarily) being to the detriment of the organization.
StatusUdgivet - 2017
Begivenhed19th Annual Congress of European Public Relations Education and Research Association : 19th Annual Congress, London - London College of Communication, London, Storbritannien
Varighed: 12 okt. 201714 okt. 2017
Konferencens nummer: 19


Konference19th Annual Congress of European Public Relations Education and Research Association
LokationLondon College of Communication

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