Assessing the Mediating Effect of Internal Communication on Strategic Human Resource Management and Perceived Performance: An Intersectoral Comparison

Published date01 September 2022
Date01 September 2022
Subject MatterArticles
Review of Public Personnel Administration
2022, Vol. 42(3) 464 –491
© The Author(s) 2021
Article reuse guidelines:
DOI: 10.1177/0734371X21994185
Assessing the Mediating Effect
of Internal Communication
on Strategic Human
Resource Management and
Perceived Performance: An
Intersectoral Comparison
Jiwon Suh1 and Paul Battaglio2
Using five waves of Korean Workplace Panel Survey (KWPS) data, we examine the
mediating effects of internal communication channels on the relationship between
strategic human resource management and organizational performance. Comparing
public, nonprofit, and for-profit organizations, we demonstrate significant sector
differences in communication. Our analyses show that only for-profit firms have
been able to tap into the advantages of internal communication channels in an effort
to improve the alignment between strategic human resource management and
perceptions of organizational performance. From the findings, we suggest that public
and nonprofit human resource managers may have a number of structural, cultural,
and knowledge barriers to effective communication.
internal communication, strategic human resource management, performance, sector
comparison, mediating effects
Organizations employ strategic management as a means for achieving organizational
goals and managing environmental challenges (Brown, 2010). To accomplish this,
1University of Texas at Arlington, Arlington, USA
2University of Texas at Dallas, Richardson, USA
Corresponding Author:
Paul Battaglio, University of Texas at Dallas, 800 West Campbell Road, WT17, Richardson, TX 75080-
3021, USA.
994185ROPXXX10.1177/0734371X21994185Review of Public Personnel AdministrationSuh and Battaglio
Suh and Battaglio 465
organizations should foster consistency between established strategies and other prac-
tices, such as those associated with human resource management (HRM). The concept
of strategic human resource management (SHRM) underscores alignment between
HR practices and organizational strategies to achieve organizational goals (Becker &
Huselid, 2009; Delery & Doty, 1996; Perry, 1993; Wright & McMahan, 1992). Thus,
all HR functions should align with specific strategies and coordinate practices across
the organization to ensure that HR practices promote strategy implementation.
To ensure alignment and coordination in organizational strategy, top management
and the human resource (HR) department must constantly communicate with internal
stakeholders (e.g., employees and other managers across the organization) regarding
strategies and related HR practices. Communicating with internal stakeholders—inter-
nal communication—is defined as “all formal and informal communication taking
place internally at all levels of an organization” (Kalla, 2005, p. 304). Internal com-
munication is an integral part of ensuring employees understand HR practices and
champion successful changes that ultimately lead to enhanced organizational perfor-
mance (Bowen & Ostroff, 2004; Den Hartog et al., 2013). This entails communication
between managers and employees within an organization via a number of channels,
including but not limited to dyadic face-to-face encounters such as group meetings or
one-on-one sessions, employee surveys, and intranet communication via email, office
newsletters, and memoranda.
Although a significant body of research underscores the importance of communica-
tion as a positive driver of organizational performance (Clampitt & Downs, 1993;
Farrell et al., 2012; Pincus, 1986; Schuler & Blank, 1976), the existing research falls
short in explaining the utility of internal communication channels in the relationship
between SHRM practices and organizational performance. Moreover, little is known
as to how communication may differ by sector and if these differences play a role in
the SHRM—performance relationship. Given that the adoption of SHRM in the public
and nonprofit sectors has failed to keep pace with similar efforts in the for-profit sector
(Akingbola, 2013; Den Hartog et al., 2013; Gould-Williams, 2004; Guo et al., 2011),
this research contributes to a broader understanding of how different communication
patterns across sectors strengthen the relationship between SHRM and organizational
In order to compare sector differences, we examine the attitudes of human resource
(HR) professionals in all three sectors. By employing the perceptions of HR profession-
als, our research provides an expert appraisal of the mediating effects of communication
on the relationship between SHRM and organizational performance in the public, non-
profit, and for-profit sectors. Specifically, this article examines two categories of internal
communication channels: vertical channels emanating from top management down to
employees and horizontal channels that occur across units internally.
The rest of this article is organized as follows. We begin with a literature review
that establishes our theoretical framework, including an outline of different communi-
cation patterns in public, nonprofit, and for-profit organizations. This is followed by
hypotheses, methods, and findings. The last section provides concluding remarks with
overall theoretical and practical implications for public service HRM.

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