Corporate communications from the CEO’s perspective: how top executives conceptualize and value strategic communication
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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- Scientific articles 
Original versionCorporate Communications: an International Journal, 20(2015)3:291-309 http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/CCIJ-04-2014-0020
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.
This is the accepted, refereed and final manuscript to the article