Facilitating internal communications in rapidly-growing companies

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School of Business | Master's thesis
Ask about the availability of the thesis by sending email to the Aalto University Learning Centre oppimiskeskus@aalto.fi
SME Business Management
Yrittäjyys ja pienyritysten johtaminen
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The purpose of the thesis is to understand whether a relationship exists between communications structures and organisational growth, and specifically to assess the impact of such growth upon the communication of stored knowledge in the organisation. As a model for assessing business growth, Greiner's paradigm was selected. Greiner predicts that successive phases of evolution and revolution will occur in corporations as they expand and that these phases are characterised by shifts in the balance between 'managerial' and 'entrepreneurial' leadership styles. The thesis predicts that each style has its own mode of communication: the managerial/administrative style of communication is characterised by 'operational' communication, which is mostly formalised and 'one-way', whilst the entrepreneurial style is characterised by 'developmental' communications which are informal and (at least) 'two-way'. Another predicted aspect of growth is that as the organisation headcount grows, the number of potential communications links grows at a much faster rate and the usual result is the spontaneous rationalisation of communications structures into 'silos' concentrated around business units. Such rationalisation restricts the opportunity for developmental 'cross-organisational' communication. Stored information which would be available through the informal developmental communications in a small entrepreneurial organisation is no longer accessible in a larger organisation. This effect is often referred to as reduced transparency. Methodologies for analysing and correcting this loss of transparency are limited; procedures such as communications audits and network analyses were found to provide descriptive rather than normative information. The best method for understanding and correcting the inefficiency of stored information transfer with corporate growth was found to be the Entrepreneurial Communications Paradigm (ECP). The ECP encompasses four distinct methodologies for maintaining developmental communications in a rapidly expanding business - 'visioning', 'aligning', 'constituting' and 'energizing'. In essence it relies on the willingness by senior managers to explain vision and strategy and to allow employees and business divisions to re-interpret this strategy in the light of their functions and skill-sets. The ECP is iterative and continuous. To test the effectiveness of the ECP, the researcher chose a fast-growing corporation in the field of consumer software development and carried out formal interviews of a cross-section of managers, supervisors and operatives in key business units to determine whether the high rate of growth was creating an impairment to the exchange of developmental information and whether this might be corrected by introducing the methodology outlined in the ECP. The results were promising; the research was able to identify that 'hidden' stored information existed and the probability that a methodology similar to that proposed in the ECP would be successful in catalysing the release of such information.
internal communications, Greiner, stored knowledge, rapid growth, Entrepreneurial Communications Paradigm
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