Company pride and the language of leadership in corporate communication

Two master theses have been picked out for special recognition from the 14 written by this year’s cohort of communication professionals who recently graduated from the Part-time Executive International Master of Science in Corporate Communication at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM). The innovative topics in these two theses earned their writers recognition in The Andreas Award for Innovation in Corporate Communication, and The Shell Stimulation Award for Excellence in Corporate Communication.

Professor Cees van Riel, Professor of Corporate Communication at RSM and Founding Managing Director of the Corporate Communication Centre presented the graduating communications professionals with their graduation certificates during a festive ceremony. Graduates work at a variety of organisations including Achmea, Nationale-Nederlanden, European Central Bank, AkzoNobel, Ping-Pong Design, RHEA, BCD Travel, Reputation Institute, NN Group, Hogeschool van Arnhem en Nijmegen, KPN, Sabic Innovative Plastics, and De Nieuwsmakers.

Public pride in your job

The Andreas Award for Innovation in Corporate Communication 2015 went to Lonneke Aanraad, Senior Communications Advisor at Achmea, for her thesis entitled Company pride: the ultimate test in creating external alignment. Her innovative topic is one of the most difficult challenges to solve in daily corporate communications practice. Lonneke’s thesis focuses on the highest degree of satisfaction an employee can achieve in a relationship with their employer; a pride in the company resulting in a willingness to promote it. “This is no doubt the dream of many top executives in many firms all around the globe,” said the jury, but in reality firms seldom succeed in making their employees feel like this. In her thesis Lonneke Aanraad shows how to use knowledge from academia and best practice from companies that have employees who take pride in their organisations. As mentioned in Lonneke Aanraad’s laudation, organisational pride is only ‘the tip of the iceberg’. First, a company needs satisfied employees before aligning them with the business strategy. Only if these conditions are met can employee pride can be achieved and expressed externally. Keeping employees informed, motivated and prepared with training, given recognition plus sufficient rewards (both monetary and psychological) are crucial for creating such pride. Finally, Lonneke Aanraad offered very practical advice: be open about who does a great job and spread the word.

The language of leaders

The Shell Stimulation Award for Excellence in Corporate Communication 2015 went to Lidia Moret, Specialist Communication Management at NN Group. Her thesis Leadership language in creating internal alignment; an analysis of the linguistic connection between purpose, people and performance was chosen because it integrated theoretical notions from corporate language and from reputation management, especially employee alignment theory, into a framework that she could use to interview top managers in the insurance company she was working for at the time.

The interviews were analysed with a qualitative, and a semi-quantitative, focus, producing academically interesting results. The rhetoric of corporate language and information from alignment theory also showed how managers develop, implicitly and explicitly, a way to stimulate alignment among employees by stressing specific frames. “This thesis is an excellent illustration of a balanced approach to integrating academic insights from different paradigms into an analysis of a practical issue (how to get internal support) resulting in crystal-clear advice about which steps to take when managers are facing similar challenges in their own organisation.” The jury added that Lidia Moret’s study shows that specific use of corporate language by leaders can be valuable, and her thesis was ‘a must-read for new and existing leaders’, and the information should be made widely available.

The Part-time Executive International Master of Science in Corporate Communication (MCC) at RSM is designed for corporate communication professionals seeking competence and expertise in areas of external and internal organisational communication, where mastery is essential for managerial success. The programme has four parts taking a minimum of 18 months to complete, but there’s scope for more flexibility and the programme can be followed alongside a demanding job.

More information

For more information about the programme please contact Programme Manager Susanna Marco, +31 10 408 2851 or by email:

Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) is a top-tier European business school and ranked among the top three for research. RSM provides ground-breaking research and education furthering excellence in all aspects of management and is based in the international port city of Rotterdam – a vital nexus of business, logistics and trade. RSM’s primary focus is on developing business leaders with international careers who carry their innovative mindset into a sustainable future thanks to a first-class range of bachelor, master, MBA, PhD and executive programmes. RSM also has an office in Taipei, Taiwan and in Chengdu, China.

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