Vertical and horizontal listening on internal social media during a time of crisis: a case study of a Danish hospital

Vibeke Thøis Madsen, Helle Eskesen Gode, Mona Agerholm Andersen

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Purpose – The study explores internal listening on internal social media (ISM) during a crisis at a large Danish hospital.
Design/methodology/approach – The study employs a netnographic qualitative design to analyze 142 posts shared by employees on the hospital’s ISM platform The Word is Free and how these posts are listened to by employees, support functions and management.
Findings – The study finds seven different types of internal listening. Categories of vertical listening included respectful listening, delegated listening, formal listening, and no listening, while horizontal listening included confirmatory listening, responsive listening, challenging listening, and no listening.
Research limitations – The study focuses on listening on ISM between January 2019 and March 2022. Interviews with employees and managers are needed to further investigate how internal listening at the hospital influences organizational life both in general and during a crisis.
Practical implications – Especially in crisis situations, organizations are encouraged to approach ISM with a holistic understanding of listening and apply three principles: 1) Embrace ISM as an employee communication arena where confirmatory, responsive and challenging listening among employees helps them to cope with strenuous situations; 2) monitor the ISM communication arena; and 3) conduct respectful listening.
Originality – This study focuses on internal listening on ISM during a crisis and suggests a holistic understanding of internal listening that combines vertical and horizontal listening.
Keywords Internal listening, employee voice, internal social media, internal crisis communication
Paper type Case study
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Communication Management
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)1-23
Number of pages23
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2023


  • Media, communication and languages
  • Employee voice
  • Internal listening
  • internal crisis communication
  • internal social media


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