A portrait of the Corporate Communication Officer (CCO) in the firm: a romantic character with multiple identities

Rossella Chiara Gambetti, Edoardo Teodoro Brioschi, Mattia Giovanardi

Risultato della ricerca: Contributo in libroContributo a convegno


With increasing concern for developing short- and long-term communication plans to cope with global business challenges and the current period of economic downturn, the role of the Corporate Communication Officer (CCO) has become critical in managing total communication systems where all firm’s activities are considered in their communicational impact on both internal and external stakeholders. Prior studies offered significant contributions regarding the analysis of the organizational models and relevant roles that the corporate communication function plays in the firm. However, studies are lacking that investigate in-depth the features of corporate communication from the perspective of the CCO, focusing in particular on how the CCO’s own culture, personality and professional heritage of competences and interpersonal skills affect the firm’s communication culture. Hence, the objectives of our study are to: 1) detect current prototypical professional identities of the CCO and how they affect his role inside the firm; 2) understand how the CCO’s own character, view of the world, experience background, and life encounters affect the corporate communication culture and practice within the organization. From a methodological standpoint, we chose a dynamic, interpretive research approach eliciting the spontaneous reconstruction of the most significant educational and professional stories of the CCOs. More specifically, our study is based on autobiographical narrative interviews with the CCOs of a multi-sector purposive sample of 15 among the largest-sized Italian firms operating in global markets quoted on the Stock Exchange. Our narrative interviews are aimed at soliciting the account of the most significant moments in the CCOs’ educational and professional careers that marked their life stories, focusing on fundamental encounters and turning points that affected major decisions. Our study highlights the story as a fundamental “sense incubator”, useful to understand the drivers and the effects of organizational behaviour, allowing a better understanding of how the culture and the leadership of the CCO affects the corporate communication culture. Findings reveal that the current CCO has a view of the world that is somehow suspended between past (e.g. nostalgia for past values and leaders, personal characteristics stemming from past traditions) and present (e.g. awareness of current fast change and dynamism, lack of lifetime bonding with a single company, availability and connectedness at any time), also marked by a strong future orientation (e.g. strategic and visionary view of the business trends to come). Furthermore, the CCO appears as a “romantic leader” assuming heterogeneous multiple identities to cope with environmental complexity. In particular, he appears as a loyal “butler”, serving respectfully the CEO and the property of the firm, being their non-intrusive spokesperson and consultant. He acts then as an “equilibrist”, mediating and balancing the often conflicting interests of the various business functions and units inside the firm. He also appears as a glamorous “storyteller” of the company, spreading its culture and stories inside and outside its boundaries, either supporting the CEO, or acting himself as a corporate brand ambassador. Moreover, he acts as an “artist-craftsman”, playing the role of the value carrier inside the firm, and serving as a coach for younger collaborators, being guided by both his talent and the lessons he received from his past masters. Finally, he appears as a “visionary-strategist” capable of interpreting the environment and govern its entropy, helping the firm anticipate and drive change in turbulent times, orienting it to corporate success. Furthermore, our study reveals that the optimal educational background of the CCO harmoniously combines a humanistic culture supporting personal characteristics as flexibility, curiosity, sensi
Lingua originaleEnglish
Titolo della pubblicazione ospiteProceedings of the CCI Conference on Corporate Communication
Numero di pagine15
Stato di pubblicazionePubblicato - 2011
EventoConference of the Corporate Communication International - New York
Durata: 6 giu 20118 giu 2011


ConvegnoConference of the Corporate Communication International
CittàNew York


  • Corporate Communication Officer
  • corporate communication
  • corporate culture
  • corporate identity


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