Symmetrical versus asymmetrical company-investor communications via the internet

H.F.D. Hassink, L.H.H. Bollen, M. Steggink

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


In previous studies it remains unclear whether the internet is an effective mechanism for developing a symmetrical and interactive communications process that is initiated by the investor rather than the company. The purpose of this paper is to study the effectiveness of the internet to act as a mechanism to achieve a more interactive communication between companies and investors.

A “mystery investor” approach is used to test whether companies reply to e‐mails from investors. Content analysis was used to study the responsiveness, timeliness and relevance of the answers.

The quality of symmetrical communication (in terms of responsiveness and relevance) appears relatively low. Companies with high‐quality investor relations (IR) web sites do not handle e‐mails more effectively. Therefore, high‐quality asymmetrical communication between company and their investors not automatically associated with a high‐quality symmetrical type of communication.

Practical implications
Companies that provide e‐mail facilities for investors create the impression that they welcome communications with investors. However, if companies fail to handle incoming e‐mails from investors quickly and correctly, they create feelings of dissatisfaction. As a result e‐mail facilities on web sites are counter‐productive and hamper the creation of good relationships with investors. These results emphasize the need for better internal routing, better instructions and specific training programmes for IR staff.

The paper provides original evidence on the potential of the internet to enhance symmetrical communication between companies and their investors. This paper contributes to a better understanding of the way the internet can be used by IR departments to enhance the communications with investors.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)145-160
Number of pages16
JournalCorporate Communications: An International Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 15 May 2007
Externally publishedYes


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