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Communicative leadership: (Re)Contextualizing a Swedish concept in theory and within organizational settings
Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Science, Technology and Media, Department of Media and Communication Science. (Demicom)ORCID iD: 0000-0003-4271-4231
2016 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The purpose of this thesis is to theorize about the concept of communicative leadership as well as explore the construction of the concept in three Swedish national and multinational organizations. ‘Communicative leadership’ is a concept often used in Swedish organizations and, in practice, refers to leaders’ communication competence related to others, and specifically toward her or his employees. It generally assumes that communicative leaders are better communicators than other leaders. Organizations using the concept accordingly evaluate and develop leaders’ communication competence. The thesis consists of five studies; one grounded in qualitative and quantitative literature on leadership and leadership communication and the other four using interviews with leaders and employees as datasets. The first article extends our understanding of communicative leadership with four communication behaviors to be applied toward developing leaders and defining communicative leadership with focus on leaders’ communicative behavior towards others. The results from the other four articles further contribute to our understanding of communicative leadership and they were obtained applying a constructionist and discursive framework in order to analyze the connections of contexts to the discourses of communicative leadership and highlight the socially constructed nature of communicative leadership. The results emphasize that different contexts found locally have consequences for the relation between leaders and employees, constitutively affecting local discourses and context. In addition to defining and conceptualizing the notion, this thesis thus also clarifies the roles of leaders and employees in leadership practices, highlights how micro- and macro-contexts interplay and what elements interact with them, mutually influencing consequences for perceptions and constructions of leadership locally. Furthermore, the empirical studies demonstrate that communicative leadership discourses do not just reveal contexts and how they are constituted and perceived; leaders’ and employees’ discourses can also reveal which changes organizational members desire to implement.

Abstract [sv]

Denna avhandlings syfte är såväl att teoretisera begreppet kommunikativt ledarskap som att utforska begreppets konstruktion och användning i tre svenska nationella och multinationella organisationer. ‘Kommunikativt ledarskap’ är ett begrepp som ofta används i svenska organisationer. Det syftar i praktiken på ledares kommunikationskompetens i förhållanden med andra, och specifikt mot medarbetare. Generellt förutsätter begreppet att kommunikativa ledare är bättre på att kommunicera än andra ledare. Organisationer som använder begreppet utvärderar och utvecklar ledarnas kommunikativa kompetens i enlighet därmed. Avhandlingen består av fem studier; en grundad på den kvalitativa och kvantitativa litteraturen om ledarskap och kommunikation och de andra fyra använder intervjuer med ledare och anställda som empiriskt material. Avhandlingens första artikel utvidgar vår förståelse av kommunikativt ledarskap med fyra kommunikationsbeteenden som kan användas för ledarutveckling och genom att definiera kommunikativt ledarskap med fokus på ledares kommunikativa beteende. Resultaten från de resterande fyra artiklarna bidrar till vår förståelse av kommunikativt ledarskap i praktiken. Här tillämpades ett konstruktionistiskt och diskursivt ramverk för att analysera ledares och medarbetares syn på och användning av kommunikativt ledarskap och belysa hur kommunikativt ledarskap är socialt konstruerat i de undersökta organisationerna. Resultaten betonar att olika lokalt existerande sammanhang har konsekvenser för relationen mellan ledare och anställda, en relation som konstitueras och formas i lokala diskurser och sammanhang. Förutom att definiera och teoretisera begreppet, förtydligar denna avhandling ledares och anställdas roller i ledarskapsutövningen, belyser hur mikro- och makro-sammanhang samspelar, och ömsesidigt påverkar konsekvenserna för uppfattningar och konstruktioner av ledarskap på det lokala planet. Dessutom demonstrerar de empiriska studierna att ledares och medarbetares diskurser om kommunikativt ledarskap inte bara avslöjar hur det inrättas och uppfattas i olika sammanhang; utan även kan avslöja vilka förändringar en organisations medlemmar önskar tillämpa.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Mittuniversitet Sundsvall , 2016. , 176 p.
Series
Mid Sweden University doctoral thesis, ISSN 1652-893X ; 235
National Category
Media and Communications
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:miun:diva-26932Local ID: DEMICOMISBN: 978-91-88025-47-0 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:miun-26932DiVA: diva2:897955
Public defence
2016-01-29, M102, Sundsvall, 11:00
Supervisors
Note

Vid tidpunkten för disputationen var följande delarbeten opublicerade: delarbete 3 (kommande), 4 (inskickat) och 5 (inskickat).

At the time of the doctoral defence the following papers were unpublished: paper 3 forthcoming), 4 (submitted) and 5 (submitted)

Available from: 2016-01-28 Created: 2016-01-26 Last updated: 2016-02-09Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Conceptualizing communicative leadership: A framework for analysing and developing leaders’ communication competence
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Conceptualizing communicative leadership: A framework for analysing and developing leaders’ communication competence
2014 (English)In: Corporate Communications. An International Journal, ISSN 1356-3289, Vol. 19, no 2, 147-165 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Purpose – The concept of “communicative leadership” is used in organisations that analyse and develop leaders’ communication competence. A scholarly definition of this concept is lacking, and the implications of leaders’ communication and the development of communication competence for organisations are rarely discussed. The purpose of this paper is to create a theoretical framework around the concept of “communicative leadership”, which can contribute to future research and development of leaders’ communication competence.

Design/methodology/approach – Three research questions were addressed: what communicative behaviours are central to leaders? How can “communicative leaders” be characterised? What is a “communicative leader”? Literature from the leadership and communication research fields was reviewed and related to these questions.

Findings – Four central communicative behaviours of leaders (i.e. structuring, facilitating, relating, and representing), eight principles of communicative leadership, and a tentative definition are presented. A communicative leader is defined as someone who engages employees in dialogue, actively shares and seeks feedback, practices participative decision making, and is perceived as open and involved.

Practical implications – A theoretical foundation to the practice of analysing and developing leaders’ communication competence is provided, which is related to employee engagement and organisational performance.

Originality/value – Communicative leadership is a concept emerging from organisational needs, articulated by corporate and public organisation leaders. This article links its core constructs to academic quantitative and qualitative research in an integrated framework, which can guide further research and the development of leaders’ communication competence.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 2014
Keyword
Leadership, Communication, Communication competence, Communicative leadership, Leader development
National Category
Communication Studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:miun:diva-21940 (URN)10.1108/CCIJ-02-2013-0007 (DOI)2-s2.0-84899649693 (Scopus ID)DEMICOM (Local ID)DEMICOM (Archive number)DEMICOM (OAI)
Projects
Kommunikativt ledarskap – Analys och utveckling av kärnkompetens
Funder
Knowledge Foundation, 20100226
Available from: 2014-05-16 Created: 2014-05-16 Last updated: 2016-01-28Bibliographically approved
2. Communicative Leadership: Fostering co-worker agency in two Swedish business organizations
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Communicative Leadership: Fostering co-worker agency in two Swedish business organizations
2016 (English)In: Corporate Communications. An International Journal, ISSN 1356-3289, E-ISSN 1758-6046, Vol. 21, no 2, 213-229 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Purpose– The purpose of this paper is to enhance the knowledge of how leadership concepts are embraced by leadership actors and perceived to influence relationships between leaders and co-workers. Specifically, the authors aim to investigate how leaders and co-workers discursively construct the concept of “communicative leadership” and its practices and perceive that communicative leadership influences relationships, work processes, and agency.Design/methodology/approach– The authors analyzed interviews with leaders and co-workers in two Swedish business organizations about their understandings and experiences of leadership.Findings– Communicative processes that enhance co-worker agency, defined as a capacity to act; include: facilitating autonomy, sharing responsibility, and mutual participation. Relational and discursive leadership processes such as responsiveness and dialogue were seen to enhance mutual participation in both organizations. Broader Swedish cultural macro discourses shaped the leader/co-worker relationship, making agency a relational accomplishment rather than an individual phenomenon.Research limitations/implications– This study relies on data from individual and focus group interviews, rather than direct observation of leadership processes.Practical implications– Findings suggest that organizations would benefit from making explicit their goals and expectations for communicative leadership in their respective social and cultural contexts.Originality/value– The authors provide new theoretical and empirical knowledge of leaders’ and co-workers’ discursive construction of a leadership concept; leadership communication research in the Swedish context; empirical research on communicative leadership as an empowering form of leadership communication; and how leadership communication discourse on a micro level is connected to organizational and macro-social cultural levels.

Keyword
Communication, Leadership, Discourse, Co-worker agency, Communicative leadership, Discursive leadership
National Category
Communication Studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:miun:diva-26776 (URN)10.1108/CCIJ-05-2015-0025 (DOI)000381979500005 ()2-s2.0-84961999704 (Scopus ID)DEMICOM (Local ID)DEMICOM (Archive number)DEMICOM (OAI)
Funder
Knowledge Foundation, 2010-0226
Available from: 2015-12-30 Created: 2015-12-30 Last updated: 2016-12-15Bibliographically approved
3. Recontextualizing communicative leadership: The interplay of discourses in a Swedish multinational organization
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Recontextualizing communicative leadership: The interplay of discourses in a Swedish multinational organization
2016 (English)In: International Journal of Strategic Communication, ISSN 1553-118X, E-ISSN 1553-1198, Vol. 10, no 1, 18-35 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This study employs a discursive lens to empirically analyze the sensemaking of leaders and employees’ communication in four different cultural contexts within a multinational organization. Communicative leaders were defined and recontextualized as strategists, interpreters/translators, instructors/facilitators, and sensemakers, considering their communication behaviors and attitudes to employees. Data suggest that the recontextualization of micro-discourses of communication and leadership emphasizes the interplay of local and global contexts in discourses of leadership. The data also indicate that contexts (and consequently macro- and micro-discourses) are blended in leaders’ and employees’ accounts, shaping constructions of communicative leadership depending on different contextual conditions. The interplay is important to form a suitable leadership discourse that makes sense for the local members and helps them work together more effectively.

National Category
Media and Communications
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:miun:diva-26944 (URN)10.1080/1553118X.2015.1073733 (DOI)2-s2.0-84958166402 (Scopus ID)DEMICOM (Local ID)DEMICOM (Archive number)DEMICOM (OAI)
Note

Publ online Feb 2016

Available from: 2016-01-28 Created: 2016-01-28 Last updated: 2016-03-18Bibliographically approved
4. Communicative leadership and context: Exploring constructions of the context in discourses of leadership practices
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Communicative leadership and context: Exploring constructions of the context in discourses of leadership practices
2016 (English)In: Corporate Communications. An International Journal, ISSN 1356-3289, E-ISSN 1758-6046, Vol. 21, no 3, 371-387 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Purpose – This purpose of this paper is to explore the discursive constructions of context and its significance in employees’ accounts of leadership practices, more specifically, discourses of communicative leadership. In doing so, it also seeks to clarify the relationship between perceptions and constructions of contexts and leadership discourses. Design/methodology/approach – This study relies on focus group interviews conducted with nine groups and a total of 31 employees (16 males and 15 females) in a Swedish industrial organization employing 490 employees. Findings – The findings reveal that micro-contexts were more evident influencing leadership discourses in the accounts of employees. However, macro-contexts identified as an authoritative leadership style were triggering constructions of “idealized” communicative leaders in contrast to the leadership experienced in the work environment by employees as “real.” Research limitations/implications – The investigation presents one organizational context, but can be expanded using additional contexts that may show various leadership forms and communication needs. Findings suggest that understanding the context considered to be relevant to perceptions and constructions of leadership can be essential for identifying and confronting challenges, leading to a more communicative organization. Originality/value – The study approaches leadership and context as dynamic and multifaceted constructs shaped locally in interaction with macro-discourses. Further, it also suggests that individuals are agents of change controlling context through being aware of their discourses.

Keyword
Communication, leadership, context, discourse
National Category
Media and Communications
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:miun:diva-26945 (URN)10.1108/CCIJ-09-2015-0056 (DOI)000381979800007 ()2-s2.0-84979496784 (Scopus ID)DEMICOM (Local ID)DEMICOM (Archive number)DEMICOM (OAI)
Available from: 2016-01-28 Created: 2016-01-28 Last updated: 2016-10-07Bibliographically approved
5. Communicative leadership: Exploring leaders' discourse on participation and engagement
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Communicative leadership: Exploring leaders' discourse on participation and engagement
2016 (English)In: Comunicação & Sociedade, ISSN 0101-2657, E-ISSN 2175-7755, Vol. 38, no 2, 7-42 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This study investigates organizational leaders’ discourses and how they are embedded in organizational and national structures and relate to leadership and communication in two Swedish organizations. This study has social constructionist aspirations and invokes qualitative, discursive, and interpretive perspectives. The findings, based on 27 interviews with leaders at various levels in the two industries, indicate that leaders’ discourses are affected differently by national and organizational cultural structures and are related to the circumstances affecting the construction of communicative leadership in these organizations. In a strongly established organizational culture national, context has less influence because members are loyal to the communication and leadership views of the organization in question. Discourses of commu- nicative leadership and Swedish leadership are relevant to the organization that work to make its leaders more communicative. However, notwithstanding the predominance of national or organisational leadership and communication views, leaders remain viewing themselves as the main leadership actors. The study also seeks to extend the knowledge of the concept of communicative leadership contributing to the understanding of its definition in relation to characteristics of national and organizational cultures. Keywords: communication; leadership; communicative leadership; discourse; national culture; organizational culture.

Abstract [pt]

Este estudo investiga os discursos de líderes em duas organizações suecas e como esses estão envolvidos em estruturas organizacionais e nacionais associadas à liderança e comunicação.O estudo tem um enfoque socialconstrutivista e evoca perspectivas qualitativas, discursivas e interpretativas. As conclusões, baseadas em 27 entrevistas com líderes de diversos níveis hierárquicos, indicam que, nas ditas indústrias, os discursos dos líderes são influenciados de formas distintas por estruturas organizacionais e culturais. Também indicam que esses discursos estão circunstancialmente associados à construção da liderança comunicativa. Em uma cultura organizacional fortemente estabelecida, o fator nacional possui menos relevância, uma vez que os empregados das organizações estudadas aderem mais às visões de comunicação e liderança das próprias empresas. Discursos sobre liderança comunicativa e o estilo próprio de liderança sueca são relevantes para uma organização que objetiva investir no aperfeiçoamento comunicativo de seus líderes. Contudo, a despeito de os padrões de comunicação e liderança serem nacionais ou organizacionais, os líderes ainda se concebem como os principais agentes do processo de liderar. Esse estudo também procura expandir o conhecimento do conceito de liderança comunicativa e contribuir para a compreensão de sua definição em relação às características das culturas nacional e organizacional. Palavras-chave: comunicação; liderança; liderança comunicativa; discurso; cultura nacional; cultura organizacional.

Abstract [es]

Este estudio investiga los discursos de líderes de dos organizaciones suecas, cómo estos se involucran a los sistemas organizacionales y nacionales y cómo describen las nociones de liderazgo y comunicación. El estudio tiene un abordaje socio-constructivista y utiliza perspectivas cualitativas, discursivas e interpretativas. Las conclusiones, basadas en 27 entrevistas con líderes de diversos niveles jerárquicos, indican que en las industrias suecas citadas los discursos de los jefes son afectados diferentemente por la cultura organizacional y nacional. Además, esos discursos circunstancialmente colaboran para la construcción del liderazgo comunicativo en sus respectivas compañías. En una cultura organizacional fuertemente establecida, el con- texto nacional tiene menos influencia, ya que los empleados obedecen más a las visiones de liderazgo y comunicación de las mismas empresas. Los discursos de liderazgo comunicativo y el estilo sueco de liderar son relevantes para las organizaciones que anhelan desarrollar las competencias comunicativas de sus líderes. Sin embargo, independiente de que las visiones de comunicación y liderazgo sean organizacionales o culturales, los líderes aún se consideran como agentes principales del proceso de liderar. Esta investigación también busca ampliar el conocimiento acerca del concepto de liderazgo comunicativo, comprendiéndolo a partir de sus características culturales y organizacionales. Palabras clave: comunicación; liderazgo; liderazgo comunicativo; discurso; cultura nacional; cultura organizacional.

Keyword
communication; leadership; communicative leadership; discourse; national culture; organizational culture, comunicação; liderança; liderança comunicativa; discurso; cultura nacional; cultura organizacional, comunicação; liderança; liderança comunicativa; discurso; cultura nacional; cultura organizacional
National Category
Communication Studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:miun:diva-26946 (URN)10.15603/2175-7755/cs.v38n2p7-42 (DOI)DEMICOM (Local ID)DEMICOM (Archive number)DEMICOM (OAI)
Available from: 2016-01-28 Created: 2016-01-28 Last updated: 2017-06-26Bibliographically approved

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Citation style
  • apa
  • harvard1
  • ieee
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  • Other style
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  • Other locale
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