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Agile communication evaluation and measurement

Betteke Van Ruler (Department of Communication Science, Universiteit van Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands)

Journal of Communication Management

ISSN: 1363-254X

Article publication date: 11 July 2019

Issue publication date: 21 August 2019

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to analyze what the concept of agility means for communication evaluation and measurement and to challenge assumptions of goal-oriented and organization-centric approaches to evaluation and measurement.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper is a development debate based on a literature review, regarding agility, evaluation theory, communication evaluation approaches and what agility means for communication measurement.

Findings

Agility teaches that what works is more important than what was agreed upon in advance, so it is with more emphasis on needs rather than objectives. Regarding evaluation, the findings show that in today’s communication evaluation theory, evaluation is equated with summative evaluation of smart designed and fixed objectives. In agility, evaluation is always formative, to foster development and improvement within an ongoing activity. Consequently smart objectives are no longer valid as fixed benchmarks and ex ante and ex post evaluations do not exist; instead evaluation is an on-going and forward looking activity during action. Regarding measurement, the basic focus in agility on user needs implies that qualitative methods are more obvious than quantitative. The classic Weberian idea of “Verstehen” is helpful to understand how to focus on needs rather than objectives. This paper finally explores the merits of action research and sense-making methodology as applicable measurements in which “Verstehen” is the basis.

Research limitations/implications

Agility is a very radical concept. The practical and theoretical implications of agile evaluation and measurement mean a total change for practice as well as for communication measurement and evaluation theory building.

Originality/value

The value of this paper is that it is the first to include agility into communication evaluation and measurement and that it, consequently, moves beyond organization-centric concepts of evaluation and measurement by bringing the often overlooked user needs into the game.

Keywords

Citation

Van Ruler, B. (2019), "Agile communication evaluation and measurement", Journal of Communication Management, Vol. 23 No. 3, pp. 265-280. https://doi.org/10.1108/JCOM-12-2018-0136

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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