"It is like asking someone: how do you walk?" The role of communication in start-up companies

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School of Business | Master's thesis
International Business Communication
International Business Communication
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Objective of the Study The objective of the study was to explore the role of communication in start-up companies at the organisational level of communication. To reach that objective the study considered, through three sub-questions, different functions of communication in start-up companies. The study explored first the function of external communication, second, the organisation of internal communication and third, it looked at the interplay of the external and internal communication functions through strategy as process. Methodology and the Theoretical Framework The research method and data collection for the explorative, qualitative study consisted of six semi-structured interviews, conducted with CEOs of six start-up companies. The start-up companies represented a heterogeneous sample. The theoretical framework for the study was formed on the basis of the literature review. The framework presents the dynamic interaction of the external and internal environments and consists of two parts. First, it contextualizes the start-up companies' operational environment and second, it highlights the relationship of the communication functions the study focused on. Findings and Conclusion The findings of the study indicate that the two communication functions, external communication and internal communication, are to a large extent tactical functions. The functions have the end goal of, respectively, creating a connection to needed resources and providing means to best accomplish essential tasks. External communication and internal communication are connected through strategy as process and the formal, managed part of internal communication is strongly related to the strategy process. The role of communication in start-up companies is fourfold: (1) communication links the start-up company to external resources; (2) communication creates two-way communication processes to the external environment to detect changes and gather information; (3) communication identifies, creates, and disseminates strategic information; (4) communication provides means to handle growth effectively. Practical implications and recommendations are to increase awareness and management of communication, plan internal communication, and create consistent, tailored messages to salient stakeholders.
international business communication, start-up companies, internal communication, external communication, strategy as process, stakeholder management, networking
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