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The Theory and Practice of Corporate Communication

The Theory and Practice of Corporate Communication
A Competing Values Perspective

August 2007 | 304 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc

"It provides an integrated an broad perspective for addressing the diversity of corporate communications as a field of study and a community of practice.  As an organizing scheme it helps capture the richness, complexity and interdependence of communication theories."

"Professor Belasen's integration of theoretical insights with practical experience distinguishes this book from any other on the subject. The value to students is that it will enable them to think about corporate communication in a sophisticated and critical way. Not only will they learn to do their jobs well, they will also understand why." —Gary P. Radford, Fairleigh Dickinson University

The Theory and Practice of Corporate Communication: A Competing Values Perspective offers an integrative approach to corporate communication. Author Alan T. Belasen covers theoretical aspects and uses practical examples and case applications to illustrate the broader, strategic view of the field of corporate communication. The book draws on an adaptation of the Competing Values Framework to provide a fuller and more coherent view of corporate communication in which a dynamic interplay of complementary and often competing message orientations takes place.

As an organizing schema, the Competing Values Framework for Corporate Communication (CVFCC) helps capture the richness, complexity, and interdependence of communication approaches (e.g., rationalistic, humanistic), functions (e.g., media relations, employee relations, government relations, investor relations), managerial roles (e.g., broker, director, mentor, innovator), and organizational stakeholders (e.g., employees, customers, regulators, investors, reporters). As a practical approach, it enables corporate communication executives and professionals to operate under the burden of contradictory and often inconsistent expectations coming from diverse constituencies. Responding to these expectations is vital for building a strong identity and sustaining a credible organizational image.

The CVFCC brings the whole (corporate communication) and parts (marketing communication, financial communication, organizational communication, management communication) into a more sophisticated theoretical treatment of corporate communication that goes beyond merely discussing "best practices."

Key Features

· The CVFCC is integrated throughout, providing the necessary roadmap for navigating the diverse range of activities and organizational functions that fall under the heading of "corporate communication"

· Using case studies and practical applications (from such companies and organizations as Starbucks, NASA, the American Red Cross, Johnson & Johnson, FedEx, and Oracle, among others), the book promotes the teaching of corporate communication from a strategic viewpoint

· Each chapter ends with a case study to help readers make sense of the connections between actual situations (what happened?) and theory (how do we make sense of what happened?)

· By examining recent corporate failures, learning methods for identifying effective corporate governance practices, and developing integrity programs, readers learn that corporate social responsibility requires not only ethical leaders, but also effective corporate communication strategy, strong corporate culture, and individual involvement

Foreword by Elliot Luber: The Science of Corporate Communication
Gods and General Managers

L'essence de L'elephant

Just in Time...

A Brave New, Flat World

The Take Away

A. Why a New Book on Corporate Communication?
1. Corporate Communication as a Field of Study and a Community of Practice
The Missing Link of Corporate Communication as a Field of Study

Corporate Communication as a Community of Practice

Attempts to Integrate the Field of Corporate Communication

The Challenge to Identify the Construct Space of Corporate Communication

Overhauling the Field

The Need for a Theoretically Based Organizing Framework


Review Questions

B. Strategic Corporate Communication: An Integrated View
2. Competing Values Framework for Corporate Communication (CVFCC)
Communication Perspectives



Critical Approaches


Communication as Organizing

Apollo 13

High Reliability Organizations

Communication Systems and Goals

Balancing Competing Tensions


Review Questions

Case Study: Satellite Systems

3. Strategic Corporate Communication: External Image, Internal Identity
Integrated Corporate Communication

Sustaining and Managing Identity Programs

Primary Functions of Corporate Communication

Media Relations

Employee Relations

Government Relations

Investor Relations


Review Questions

Case Study: Starbucks Coffee Company

4. Identity, Reputation, and the Functions of Corporate Communication: A Strategic View
GE: Managing Image and Corporate Identity

Target: Managing Corporate Reputation

McDonald’s: Promoting the New Image

Effective Communication Strategies

External Communications


Review Questions

Case Study: The Power of Symbols: Creating Corporate Identity at Agilent Technologies

C. Functions of Corporate Communication
5. Media Relations
Reputation and Media Relations

Enhancing Public Image through Issue Management

Branding the Image and Identity

Public Relations and Media Relations

Johnson & Johnson

Public Relations and Investor Relations

The Corporate Spokesperson


Review Questions

Case Study: Adolph Coors Company

6. Investor Relations

Working with Financial Analysts

Managing Stockholder Confidence

Financial Reporting

Investor Relations and Corporate Reputation

Corporate Social Responsibility

Financial Performance and Corporate Reputation

Investor Relations Success Story

Financial Ethics


Review Questions

Case Study: The Press and the Stockholders

7. Government Relations
Externally Derived, Internally Enforced

Policy Fields

Firms Rush to End Reform

Importance of Government Relations


American Red Cross

Regulations and Boundary Spanning


Shaping Favorite Policies through Issue Management

Supplier Relations


Review Questions

Case Study: The Anti-Trust Case against Microsoft

8. Employee Relations
Aligning Identity with External Image

Strategic Conversation

Asking the Right Questions Rather than Giving Solutions

Motivating Employees

Integrating and Assimilating Employees—The Role of Culture

Mapping Culture in the Training Organization

Avoiding the Trap of Knowing-Doing

Positive Communication Relationships

Message Orientations

Mapping Message Orientations

A Diamond Model of Interactions

Managing for Organizational Integrity: The Social Contract with Employees



Review Questions

Case Study: Hanover Software

D. External and Internal Communication
9. Marketing Communication and Corporate Advertising
Integrated Marketing Communication

Southwest Airlines


Issue Management and Corporate Advertising

PR and Corporate Advertising

Nonprofit Organizations

Managing Organizational Constituencies

Marketing Communication in Nonprofit Organizations

Marketing to Employees in Nonprofit Organizations

E-Channels for Nonprofit Organizations

Marketing Communication and Ethical Advertising


Review Questions

Case Study: Wal-Mart and Its Communications Strategy

10. Financial Communication and Corporate Social Responsibility
Enron: The Corporate Tactics

Arthur Andersen: Turning the Blind Eye

Tyco: Stealing the Vanity

WorldCom: The Giant Falls

Union Carbide

Financial Communication: The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002

Implementation Challenges



Review Questions

Case Study: Illinois Power and “60 Minutes”: Communicating About the Communications

11. Organizational and Management Communication
Rule Theory: Rationalistic Approach to Communication

The Humanistic Approach

Rationalistic and Humanistic Communication Roles: A Competing Values Perspective

Facilitating Vertical Communication

Information Communication Technology

The Role of Informal Networks in Management Communication

Aligning Communication with Structures

Horizontal Management

Aligning Communication Processes in Loosely Coupled Structures

Managerial Ethics and Social Responsibility

The CEO and the Board of Directors

Structural Regulations

Policies and Standards


The Ethical CEO

Communication between the CEO and Board Members

Building an Effective Board of Directors


Review Questions

Case Study: The Paradoxical Twins—Acme and Omega Electronics

E. Analysis and Control
12. Stakeholder Analysis
Communicating with Stakeholders: A CVFCC Approach

Firm-Stakeholder Relationships


Principles of Stakeholder Management

Communicating Messages to Stakeholders

Steps in Stakeholder Analysis

Sources of Power

Assessing Stakeholders’ Perceptions Using the CVFCC


Review Questions

Case Study: Granite City: Doing More with Less

13. Communication Audits within Organizations


Uncertainty Reduction

The Process of a Communication Audit


Identifying Communication Activities Across Managerial Levels

The Importance of Contextual Factors

Assessment of Managerial Communication Roles and Skills

Diagnosing Organizational Culture

Cultural Types

Cultural Audit in a Health Care Organization


Review Questions

Case Study: Planning the Project

F. Crisis Communication and Patterns of Corporate Response
14. Crisis Communication and Message Strategies
Fire at Deloitte Office Tower in Madrid: Deloitte Spain Maintains Activity

Southwest Airlines

Communication Failures

Failure at Dow Corning

Failure at the University of Maryland

Success for NASA

Success for Texas Eastern Transmission Corporation

Verizon: Effective Corporate Communication

Protecting the Image

Organizing the Exchange of Information

Restoring the Image

Stages of Crisis

The Importance of Culture in Managing Crises


Review Questions

Case Study: Tylenol Tampering Scare

15. Conclusion
Corporate Communication: The Maestro

Strategic Corporate Communication

The Theory and Practice of Corporate Communication

Integrative Case Study: The Acquisition of Abbott Hospital

Case Study: Mt. Mercy Acquires Abbott

Case Study: The End of the First Six Months

Integrative Case Study: BelBeck Production

About the Author

"His framework for CC's "system and goals" has "innovation, information, regulation and integration" in the four quadrants, with associated words "transform, perform, conform, and reform", to answer important questions...a book that can add pep to the hassled in "corp comm"!"


It is excellent, informative and very well structured. The book gives excellent insight into the structure of corporate communications. Thank you

Mr Lefteris Emmanuel Heretakis
Communications , Izmir University of Economics
November 12, 2015

This book is very well written and the concepts of trade-off and stakeholder analysis are key to understanding corporate communication (especially when dealing with foreign students).

Dr Jennifer Breese-Vitelli
Communication, Lasell College
July 16, 2013

A useful book to provide students with a more varied and up-to-date understanding of corporate communication. This book covers a large section of the students curriculum and will be highly recommended.

Miss Katie Angliss
Plymouth Business School, University of Plymouth
May 16, 2013

Comprehensive, well-written guide to corporate communication.

Ms Anne Stuart
Communications , Lasell College
April 19, 2012

Excellent text; very suitable for course

Dr Barry Eisenberg
Business Mgmt Economics Dept, Suny Empire State College - Saratoga
March 11, 2010
Key features
  • The Competing Values Perspective is based on over 15 years of consulting work, academic teaching, curriculum development, conference papers, and publications in the areas of communication, management development, cultural transformation, and organizational leadership.  As the framework for the book it presents a balance among the four perspectives on corporate communication: marketing communication with its emphasis on media relations; financial communication with its emphasis on investor relations; organizational communication with its emphasis on government and supplier relations; and management communication with its emphasis on employee relations. The framework is particularly useful in helping communication students, researchers, and practitioners form a better understanding of the scope and range of communication activities that affect organizations both internally and externally.
  • Practical examples and case studies from a wide variety of industries illustrate theoretical concepts and aid student understanding.
  • Encourages critical thinking and planning by promoting the development of communication responses that consider the objectives and consequences of employing different messages when addressing different audiences.
  • Communication audit instruments help students and practitioners diagnose their communication roles and skills, identify strengths and weaknesses, and develop action plans for improvement.
  • Teaches students that corporate social responsibility not only requires ethical leaders, but also effective strategy, strong corporate culture, and individual involvement.

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 1

Chapter 3

Chapter 12

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