Publication Date




Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


Communication Studies (Communication)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Don. W. Stacks

Second Committee Member

Michael J. Beatty

Third Committee Member

Diane Millette

Fourth Committee Member

Terri Scandura


This dissertation aimed to establish the linkage between strategic leadership, internal communication practice and employee outcomes. In particular, it examined the effect of organizational transformational and authentic leadership on internal symmetrical and transparent communication as well as employee outcomes, indicated by organization-employee relationship, perceived organizational reputation and employee engagement. Engagement, believed to be a new paradigm of public relations practice in the new age of social media, was examined as an ultimate outcome of strategic communication associated with relationships and reputation. Through an on-line survey of 402 employees working in large and medium corporations in the United States and the structural equation modeling analysis of the data, this study revealed the following important findings. First, organization-employee relationship is positively associated with employee evaluation of organizational reputation and employee engagement. A favorable organizational reputation in the eyes of employees leads to employees’ higher level of engagement. Second, transformational leadership and authentic leadership both contribute to the development of organization’s internal symmetrical communication system. Third, symmetrical internal communication nurtures organizational transparency, which in turn, contributes to a quality organization-employee relationship indicated by employee trust, satisfaction commitment and control mutuality; a favorable internal reputation and employee engagement, either directly or indirectly. Fourth, the organization’s authentic leadership helps build a good relationship between the organization and its employees. The effects of transformational leadership on employee outcomes are fully mediated by the organization’s symmetrical and transparent communication. Finally, the study found that employees in general prefer interpersonal media channels than mediated channels to receive information from the organization and their leaders. Social media mediums have not yet been utilized in organization’s internal communication. The findings of the study contribute to the growing body of knowledge on public relations evaluation and measurement, internal public relations, relationship management, reputation management, public engagement and leadership studies in the context of public relations. They also provide important pragmatic implications for public relations professionals and organizational managers.


Internal communication; reputation management; relationship management; employee engagement; leadership