GSTF Journal on Media & Communications (JMC)

, 2:11

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Stakeholder communications by public leaders: Mutual gain or ethical challenge?

  • Kirk SturmAffiliated withUniversity of CaliforniaCalifornia Polytechnic State University
  • , Dan EllerAffiliated withUniversity of CaliforniaCalifornia Polytechnic State University


Using communications theory, the aim of this paper was to analyze a case study to describe the potential benefits and pitfalls of two-way Symmetrical and two-way Asymmetrical communication models [1].

Public sector leaders communicate with various internal and external stakeholders to achieve organizational goals [2], [3], [4].

When a public sector leader adopts a two-way Symmetrical communications approach, the leader works with the various stakeholders to achieve their respective mutual goals [4], [5], [6].

When a leader adopts a two-way Asymmetrical communications approach, the leader seeks to achieve organizational goals at the expense of mutual goals with one or more stakeholders. This is accomplished by framing communications in ways that are more likely to be accepted by stakeholders, but in reality, only advances the organizational goals [7].

Two-way Asymmetrical communication can also be seen as raising ethical issues since the leader is, in essence, pretending to listen to stakeholders while the underlying intent is to achieve organizational goals [4] & [8]).


stakeholders communications theory two-way Symmetrical two-way Asymmetrical ethics public sector leaders