Aaltodoc publication archive (Aalto University institutional repository)
School of Business | Department of Communication | International Business Communication | 2013
Thesis number: 13316
The nature of internal communication in a knowledge-intensive SME: A case study
|Title:||The nature of internal communication in a knowledge-intensive SME: A case study|
|Year:||2013 Language: eng|
|Department:||Department of Communication|
|Academic subject:||International Business Communication|
|Index terms:||viestintä; communication; yritysviestintä; business communication; pk-yritykset; smes|
|Key terms:||international business communication, internal communication, informal communication, two-way symmetrical communication, stakeholder approach, employee engagement, SMEs, small and medium-sized enterprises, knowledge-intensive, knowledge-workers|
Objectives of the study
The objective of the study was to investigate the nature of internal communication in a knowledge-intensive SME, as perceived by its employees. The case company of the study was a well-established Helsinki-based small and medium sized engineering company with highly specialised expertise in its field. The study explored how the company's internal communication was organised in terms of channels, frequency, direction and content. The effect of the company size on the nature of its internal communication was studied, as well as the main sources of satisfaction and challenges employees identified in internal communication. This was to answer the main research question: What is the nature of internal communication in the case company?
Methodology and theoretical framework
The source of data in the qualitative single case study consisted of 18 semi-structured interviews conducted among employees at different hierarchy levels in the case company. The theoretical framework was based on breaking down internal communication by stakeholder groups into four interrelated dimensions: internal line management communication, internal team peer communication, internal project peer communication, and internal corporate communication. Both formal and informal internal communication were included in the model and their one-way or two-way direction was identified. The internal organisational environment with particular SME and knowledge-intensive characteristics formed the context for all four dimensions of internal communication.
Findings and conclusions
Internal communication in the case company was informal, unsystematic and unorganised by nature. These are all characteristic for SMEs, as their communication activities do not usually contain much strategic and planned perspectives and informal communication plays a more significant role compared to large organisations. Internal communication was two-way symmetrical on all dimensions, which is rare in the case of internal corporate communication. Internal communication had managed to engage employees with the company and thus retain its knowledge-workers. However, there is still room for improvement in promoting employee awareness and understanding of the changes in environment and of the company's need to adapt to the changes.
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