Role of the CEO in Corporate Communications

The concept of networks contains the competencies which can enable organizational members to produce better products and services. I worked for a company which provided IT support and maintenance, field services, design, consulting and system administration for a wide range of IT products. In 2001, the company sold its equities to outside investors. Since then the investors have become the majority shareholder, causing the family to largely lose control of the company. The corporate culture has been gradually changed, from ‘family corporate umbrella’ to ‘corporate umbrella’.

However, the CEO, a member of ‘family corporate umbrella’ culture, has not yet adapted to the new scenario. The new psychological, communicative and social frameworks do not help the CEO understand how individuals and nonhuman agents could work. In the ‘corporate umbrella’ environment, no single theory can help motivations, which can forge, dissolve, or sustain knowledge of the grapevine network with other nonhuman or other human agents.

The grapevine communication network could include authority relations and trust five years ago in the Irish company. At that time, the communication network had been impacted by other influential organizational networks within the family as well as the relations specified by the underlying family culture, the closed-internal networks. I was challenged by the concept of organizational family, psychological mechanism, and communicative network.

When the company changed its legal entity, from proprietorship to company owned by many investors, the transition has been discouraged and undermined by the ‘corporate umbrella’ concept. The COO, nominated by the investors, has taken over the CEO position, who might not get used to the ‘corporate umbrella’ concept. The CEO has not shared any attributes to the corporation. In fact, corporate exchange environment might reflect that an individual might look for grapevine network with another individual, if the other can somehow reciprocate and offer something in return. The assumption, based on mutual interest, might suggest that any individual will help contribute to a certain responsibility only if other members in the grapevine are willing to do so, which might help explain why at a global level, the entire network could be successful.

Additionally, I believe that individuals tend to look for information from those who they think are knowledgeable. The CEO is under the pressure of being audited by the customers. Major banking organizations and the FDA on behalf of the pharmaceutical clients have scrutinized the company operation. Publishing serves more as a sign about which individuals understand and are responsible for certain areas. However, in the company the responsibilities of CEO and COO are overlapped and not clearly defined. The CEO, high-school graduate and non-corporate experience, cannot offer expertise in area in exchange.

Managing grapevine networks procedures can be developed. The COO leverage emerging technological capabilities, implement the new communication community and change the company culture, from ‘family corporate umbrella’ to ‘corporate umbrella’. The new infrastructure and new social communication have been implemented in the company.

As a CTO (Chief Technology Officer), I was working closer to the operation side and involved with day-to-day activities. The pressures of stakeholders have caused the COO many concerns. Contrast to traditional communication, the ‘family corporate umbrella’ culture, I have come to realize that I was in a highly knowledgeable intensive and connected in organizational world. The structural interconnections have determined what the people in authority, COO and CEO, can know, can do, or cannot do. I understand that the explosion of work, international codes have crossed many disciplines, not just corporate culture. The financial principals, the pharmaceutical regulations, ISO 9001:2000 standards and the Sarbanes Oxley Act seem burdened to the CEO at high school education level. Concurrently, the amount of knowledge about the network and communication has grown after the company has been taken over by investors for five years.

As Morgan believes, corporations can be viewed as biological organisms. [1] The simplest structures can be divided into cells and retain the characteristics of life. Usually start-up as a sole trader, proprietorship, a single person operation can begin the corporate life and perform many functions in my company. Thirty years ago, the company was operated under the ‘family corporate umbrella’. At this time, communication was easy since a person could contact within his own environment.

Communications should be changed to adapt to the environment. ‘Many companies do not listen to their environment; they simply wait to speak. This means that 80 per cent of information flows outwards from the organisation and only 20 per cent flows inwards.’ [2] The organizational boundary is coupled with the ideas of organizational identity. In fact, at any given time, the boundary can impact the usage of intellectual capital and capability by the company and vice versa. The organization transforms from ‘family corporate umbrella’ to ‘corporate umbrella’. Leveraging intellectual capital by organizations operating might cause more dynamic in open environment.

Furthermore, ‘complex organisms are good at differentiating between long-term and short-term communication mechanisms and goals. The nervous system, for example, deals with short-term adjustments to the organism over minutes and hours. The sympathetic nervous system controls responses to external stimuli, while the parasympathetic nervous syste.’ [3] If this concept had been efficiently implemented in my corporation, the staff turnover would have been much lower. I believe that where any procedures, expertise and human resources are properly shared, organizational boundaries can become indistinct. This might rise to new issues of organizational identity, integrity and ownership of intellectual capability.

According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs[4], social needs become prominence in employees’ feeling and thinking. Their social needs can be fulfilled when they surround themselves with others who understand and generally approve their day-to-day life choices.

In fact, once secure in my social life, I sought to fulfill my need for esteem. I was discouraged by CEO. As a CTO, at this stage I would ignore money motivators for the sake of the all-important respect and job title.[5]

I am building a social life to match my growing need to make people proud of me, and to be proud of myself. I have seen many professionals in the company oscillate between social needs and esteem needs.

The CEO should understand that managing organizational transformation is related to the dynamic, competitive and interconnected to the economic context as well as the open environment. The ‘corporate umbrella’ metaphor can help him explore issues of the organization integrity and identity; he can understand the cognitive and adaptive behaviors of employees in his company.

I believe that if the company can be self organized, good corporate culture, which represents considerable elegant communication, responsive to local change while trying to maintain to organization integrity through intelligent networks, internal communication, and relational contiguity, it can be globally positioned. It can locally generate at its best capability and fineness of control in interacting with open environment. The CEO can help generate robustness and challenge the changing conditions.

In short, workplace violence, such as threats, abuse, physical assault, aggressive and abrasive behavior, is an issue that companies have responsibilities to assess. Control measures should incorporate protective, preventive and even encouraging measures. Transformation of ‘family corporate umbrella’ to ‘corporate umbrella’ should be well informed, implemented, and educated in the corporate framework and operations. As a result, effective risk measurements can be undertaken in consultation with employees, and avoid negative emotions developing.


Maslow, A H. 1970, ‘ Motivation and personality’, 2nd ed. New York: Harper & Row.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, viewed January 10, 2007,>

Morgan, G 1998, Nature intervenes: organizations as organisms, Executive ed., 1st ed. Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Sage Publications, San Francisco, California.

Vincent-Wayne, M, Jackson, P. 2006 ‘the nature of corporate communication’.European Business Forum.London, no.26,p.37

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[1] Morgan, G 1998, Nature intervenes: organizations as organisms, Executive ed., 1st ed. Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Sage Publications, San Francisco, California.

[2] Vincent-Wayne, M, Jackson, P. 2006 ‘the nature of corporate communication’.European Business Forum.London, no.26,p.37

[3] Vincent-Wayne & Jackson 2006

[4] Maslow, A H. 1970, ‘ Motivation and personality’, 2nd ed. New York: Harper & Row.

[5] Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, viewed January 10, 2007,>


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