Doctoral Dissertation

28.11 M.A. Laura Olkkonen (Faculty of Humanities, Organizational Communication & PR)


28.11.2015 12:00 — 15:00

Location: Seminaarinmaki , H320
Release: Stakeholder expectations can reveal future opportunities and challenges for organizations (Olkkonen)
M.A. Laura Olkkonen defends her doctoral dissertation in Organizational Communication & PR "Stakeholder Expectations. Conceptual foundations and empirical analysis". Opponent Professor Øyvind Ihlen (University of Oslo) and custos Professor Vilma Luoma-aho (University of Jyväskylä). The doctoral dissertation is held in English.

Laura Olkkonen, kuva Pekka OlkkonenM.A. Laura Olkkonen defends her doctoral dissertation in Organizational Communication & PR "Stakeholder Expectations. Conceptual foundations and empirical analysis". Opponent Professor Øyvind Ihlen (University of Oslo) and custos Professor Vilma Luoma-aho (University of Jyväskylä). The doctoral dissertation is held in English.


Laura Olkkonen’s dissertation sheds light on why an organization’s conduct can sometimes cause excitement and sometimes disappointment. The explanation can be in different expectations. Olkkonen presents stakeholder expectations as a phenomenon that is influenced by not only values and interest but also available information and previous experience. The results of the thesis are summarized in a model of stakeholder expectation formation.

According to the model developed in the dissertation, stakeholder expectations can convey both positive (optimism and hope) and negative (cynicism and pessimism) views on organizations and their conduct.

– It is often said that knowing how to recognize and fulfill stakeholders’ expectations is important for an organization’s success. However, the existence of negative expectations is rarely acknowledged, although they can reveal important room for improvement for organizations. Stakeholders may expect, for example, that an organization is unable to battle overcommercialization. Negative expectations challenge the current understanding as it is somewhat an empty phrase to say that expectations should be met if the expectations are negative, Olkkonen points out.

Sector-based expectations of corporate responsibility

Expectations have an impact on many aspects that are important for organizations, such as reputation, responsibility, relationships, public approval, satisfaction, trust, and identity. In Olkkonen’s research, expectation analysis was connected especially to corporate responsibility that deals with how organizations behave as members of the surrounding society. Expectations of responsibility were analyzed in the context of the media sector and they were seen to include, for example, media literacy and participation. These expectations are part of the sector-based expectations of corporate responsibility that can touch upon wide societal issues that are connected to a certain organization or a sector. Thus, in the case of media organizations it is not enough to ensure the ethical production of media products, but to take into account their wide impacts on individuals and society.

Expectation management for communication professionals

It is suggested that a future task for communication professionals is to analyze stakeholder expectations and manage the information that they convey. Olkkonen calls this task expectation management. Expectation management highlights the importance of communication professionals for the success of the whole organization, as it emphasizes the role of communication professionals as mediators between the organization and the stakeholders.

Laura Olkkonen (née Timonen) has graduated from Kimpinen high school (Lappeenranta) in 2002. She has gained an MA degree (organizational communication and PR) and an MSocSc degree (political science) from the University of Jyväskylä in 2009. Currently she is working as a researcher at Lappeenranta University of Technology. Her previous experience includes working as a doctoral student and grant researcher at the University of Jyväskylä. She was also an associate member of the doctoral program of communication studies VITRO in 2010-2013.

Part of the research was conducted in a research project ”What is expected of the media in a reputation society?” led by the supervisor of the dissertation, Vilma Luoma-aho. The project was funded by the Helsingin Sanomat Foundation. Olkkonen has received personal grants for her research from the Jenny and Antti Wihuri Foundation, Otto A. Malm Foundation, the Department of Communication at the University of Jyväskylä, and the South Karelia Chamber of Commerce.

The dissertation will be published in Jyväskylä Studies in Humanities (no 270), 96 p., Jyväskylä 2015, Printed book: ISSN 1459-4323, ISBN 978-951-39-6385-9, PDF: ISSN 1459-4331, ISBN 978-951-39-6386-6. The printed book can be bought from the Publishing Unit of the University of Jyväskylä Library, tel. 040 805 3825, Link to the dissertation:

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Laura Olkkonen