Croatian universities are autonomous from the government, but the majority of universities are financially dependent on the state. Croatian universities function as public authorities and often ignore communication with relevant publics, which indicates insufficient integration of communication activities into the universities' development plans, i.e. a lack of strategic communication as an essential tool for achieving the organisation's goals. Heide et al. emphasised the importance of the human element in communication management as ‘a move from organizations based on hierarchies, rules and close supervision to organizations built on loosely structured networks’ (Heide et al., 2018, p. 453). This chapter examines the usage of strategic communication at Croatian universities in 2018 and 2020–2021 and compares communication in 2020–21 during the COVID-19 pandemic with communication during non-crisis 2018. This chapter uses Hallahan et al.'s approach to strategic communication, who defined it as ‘the purposeful use of communication by an organisation to fulfil its mission’ (2007, p. 3). This case study of strategic communication of Croatian universities used the following research methods: (1) content analysis of universities web pages, (2) in-depth interviews with communication specialists from universities and (3) comparison of their communication during 2018 and 2020–2021. Conclusion is that communication of Croatian universities is not strategic and can hardly serve as a management function. Reasons for this situation indicate a lack of the social impact of the universities, i.e. lack of the Triple Helix model of the Croatian universities. This chapter is the first research of the usage of strategic communication at Croatian universities.
Holy, M. (2023), "Strategic Communication in Unpredictable Times: A Case Study of Croatian Universities", Rodríguez-Salcedo, N., Moreno, Á., Einwiller, S. and Recalde, M. (Ed.) (Re)discovering the Human Element in Public Relations and Communication Management in Unpredictable Times (Advances in Public Relations and Communication Management, Vol. 6), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 29-46. https://doi.org/10.1108/S2398-391420230000006003
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