Journal article

Communication executives in a changing world: Legitimacy beyond organizational borders

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Publication Details

Author list: T OTTESTIG A, JOHANSSON C, JOHANSSON C, T OTTESTIG A

Publication year: 2011

Start page: 144

End page: 164

Number of pages: 21

ISSN: 1363-254X

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/13632541111126364

URL: http://www.emeraldinsight.com/journals.htm?issn=1363-254x&volume=15&issue=2&articleid=1921963&show=abstract


Abstract

Abstract

Purpose – The purpose of this research is to study how communication executives perceive their internal and external legitimacy, how they reflect on recent developments in their work, and which future challenges they perceive as being important.

Design/methodology/approach – The approach takes the form of in-depth interviews with communication executives.

Findings – Communication executives have a distinct strategic managerial role within their organizations. The executive role involves three different performances: the organizational leader; the communication leader; and the communication manager. Executives perceived high external legitimacy, whereas internal legitimacy varied between organizations, and status and formal position were both dynamic and subject to negotiation. The communication technology development, termed as a “revolution”, has considerably affected executives’ work. Future communication challenges such as globalization and organizational change were discussed.

Research limitations/implications – Recent changes have strengthened the roles of the communication executives. Internal status and legitimacy appear to be dependent on the attitudes of the other executives. These relationships and the emerging executive roles will be an important basis for study in future research.

Practical implications – Internal legitimacy was clearly an issue of negotiation, which is important for practitioners to consider. Acting out the educational role, working with communication support and the coaching of managers, and initiating and pursuing strategic organizational issues may be means by which communication executives are further able to enhance their internal legitimacy.

Originality/value – New insights with regard to the legitimacy, practice and self-perceptions of communication executives are provided. This is the first study of Swedish communication executives, adding to the knowledge base derived from studies from The Netherlands, UK and USA.

Keywords Communications, Management roles, Senior management

Paper type Research paper


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