In week 42, Urszula W. Ayache visited the Nordic Centre for Internet and Society. Urszula is a final-year PhD student at ESCP Business School in Paris and is currently a visiting doctoral scholar at the DIG center in the Department of Strategy and Management of NHH in Bergen.
Her research focuses on the areas of strategic leader communication in the context of innovation, hyper-competition, and new organizational forms such as platform ecosystems. Inspired by research that has practical business implications, Urszula aims to bring knowledge from the field of linguistics and computer science to strategy research. On October 18, she presented her research on strategic leader communication for several Centre members and other employees at the Department of Communication and Culture.
The language of strategic leadership: Studying Top Management Team communication in organisationally innovative ventures
In the first paper she presented, Urszula looks at the language of Top Management Teams (TMTs) and their organizational innovation. She studies the shifting grounds of TMT communication between traditional and new organizational forms (platform ecosystems). She applies the upper echelons theory, which sees organizations as reflections of their managers, to explore how the language of executives reflects organizational innovativeness. The study's results revealed that platform TMTs use a more inclusive language style, whereas more traditional pipeline firms' TMTs tend to be less authentic in their language. Additionally, the study showed that these differences in language style are amplified when discussing innovation.
In another paper presented, Urszula studies the language of female top executives. Her study found that these women tend to use a mix of assertive and less assertive language when talking to investors and analysts in meetings about company earnings. Furthermore, female TMT authenticity decreases for the language of power, and increases for the language of tentative and social focus. Urszula’s study further suggests that female top managers should balance their communication style. First, they can be more authentic when using both powerful language and social references (combining the masculine style with the feminine focus). They can also increase authenticity when combining certain language features with analytical thinking, again a masculine and a feminine strength.
There is an underrepresentation of women in boards of directors, in STEM&F sectors, and in academia. Furthermore, women may face challenges when trying to balance feminine attributes and leadership qualities. Thus, Urszula’s study contributes to the research on how women can increase their chances of achieving true feminine inclusion within these sectors.
The third paper she presented is a conceptual piece about how platform firms’ innovative approach to strategy making transforms the nature of communicative interactions in the ecosystem environment. The paper highlights that strategic leaders of platform firms will have to develop a linguistic competence capability to be able to adjust their messaging to the complex interactions they have with complementors and other actors and remain legitimate. To explore this capability measure, Urszula uses the Communication Accommodation Theory (Giles 1979) and leverages the divergence and convergence strategies to theorize about how ecosystem governance complexities will impact the linguistic capability of strategic leaders.
The presentation of the three papers led to engaging discussions and good insights and questions from the listeners. Thank you for your presentation and visit to the Nordic Centre for Internet and Society, Urszula! At the Centre, we look forward to future collaborations.