To listen, or to hear, that is the question. Internal listening at a Danish hospital during times of crisis

Mona Agerholm Andersen, Vibeke Thøis Madsen, Helle Eskesen Gode

Research output: Contribution to conference without a publisher/journalPaperResearchpeer-review


Purpose - This study focuses on internal listening at a large Danish university hospital in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic and Danish nurse strike in 2021. The purpose is to explore how management listens to the employees, as well as how employees listen to each other in ISM during a crisis.
Design/methodology/approach - The study employs a netnographic qualitative design to analyze 142 posts and their comments by managers and employees on the hospital’s internal social media platform “The Word is Free”.
Findings - The study found six different types of internal listening. The vertical listening consisted of appreciative listening, routine listening and delegated listening. The horizontal listening consisted of community listening, across occupational groups listening and peer-to-peer listening.
Research limitations - A limitation of the study is that it only focuses on listening on ISM in a period from January 2020 to March 2022. Interviews with employees and managers are needed to investigate how internal listening in the hospital influences organizational life both in general and during a crisis.
Practical implications – This study revealed that horizontal listening seems to be a way for employees to cope with a strenuous situation as they get a sense of not being alone with their frustrations and observations. Internal listening is a delicate competence and a balancing act as it can quickly flip and become perceived as non-listening or pseudo listening by the employees. Successful internal strategic listening thus requires that the listening architecture and leadership empathy and understanding of the organization be in place.
Originality - Studies of organizational listening and social media have mainly explored listening on public social media, while this study focuses on internal listening on internal social media during a crisis.
Keywords Internal listening, employee voice, internal social media, internal crisis communication
Paper type Case study
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2022
Publication statusPublished - 2022
EventEUPRERA 23rd Annual Congress: Public Relations in the Risk Society: Dealing with Uncertainty, Insecurity and Crisis - Universität Wien, Vienna, Austria
Duration: 21 Sept 202224 Sept 2022
Conference number: 23


ConferenceEUPRERA 23rd Annual Congress
LocationUniversität Wien
Internet address


  • Media, communication and languages
  • Internal social media
  • Organizational listening


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