The Management Game of Communication: Volume 1

Cover of The Management Game of Communication

Table of contents

(23 chapters)
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Series Preface

Pages xi-xii
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Introduction

Pages xiii-xviii
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Part I: Linking Communication and Business

Abstract

This chapter discusses the relevance of business knowledge and management education for the success of communication managers. Invitations into senior management circles or an enhanced cross-department employability are, amongst other factors, valued as indicators of success. From a sample of 751 answers of participants from German-speaking countries we find that business knowledge has not grown in importance during the last decade. To the contrary, the craftsmanship in communication matters has increased in value. Communication executives seem to profit from additional business education on a personal level, but this is no secure path to a better career.

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Little is known about the effects of education on the practice of PR. This chapter aims at demonstrating the differences between economics-educated practitioners and communication-educated practitioners. Based on a quantitative survey among 790 practitioners working in non-profits in Austria, the research presented here sheds light on the influences of education on thinking and acting by practitioners in communication practice. Although public relations are not a protected profession, education has become an on-going topic in public relations literature and practice. Furthermore, education for public relations increasingly takes place in various environments. Courses available range from one-day seminars at community colleges to PR-specific studies. Furthermore, public relations are not only a topic in communications-related studies, but also in economics and humanities. The results highlight the differences in practice in relation to the education.

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Abstract

This chapter analyses how the six undergraduate programmes in communication management in Flanders (Belgium) refer to or include management in their curricula in order to support the career plans of their students. As communication is inherently integrated in business courses, it will attempt to determine how management is included in BAs in communication management, and how it is defined both from the perspective of the programme responsible and of practitioners’. It proposes a six-point model for a ‘managerial attitude’ extracted from the interviews and reflections of the practitioners’ managerial needs for public relations to be embedded in a company’s policy and brought on the board’s agenda when strategic decisions are made.

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This chapter argues that in today’s complex, globalised and technologised world, business and communication cannot remain in their separate silos – neither in academia nor in practice. The chapter approaches the topic with the help of a case and discusses how communication studies have invaded the fortress of the Aalto University School of Business, Finland. The development of an international Master’s Programme in Corporate Communication was informed by three major research projects in particular, which focused on internal communication practices of multinational companies and the perceptions of communication professionals on the knowledge and skills required of future communicators. Although Corporate Communication studies have been accommodated by the business school fortress for over 10 years, the time has not been without multidisciplinary challenges.

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Abstract

Communication studies have expanded significantly around the globe in the last decades. Due to new channels of communication and more and more mediatised societies, the role of communication has gained significance. In contrast, communication does not seem to be a topic of high priority for many corporate leaders. They often still value communication as a mere support function.

This chapter explores communication courses of business schools in the United States and Europe. It is hypothesised that only if communication courses are recognised in such programmes the profession of business communicators will realise entry into the highest levels of corporate decision-making.

The main question is how far top-ranked Master of Business Administration (MBA) programmes integrate communication courses. This is investigated via website analysis and interviews. This chapter also provides explanations for the current status quo. The results will be of interest to all those responsible for shaping MBA curricula and give insights into how the communication discipline is viewed by leaders of business schools.

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Part II: Communication, Leadership and Organisational Goals

Abstract

The distinction between external communication services and internal consulting services plays an important role in most public relations (PR) theories dealing with PR as an organisational function. In these theories, two perspectives are at the centre of discussion: either PR succeeds in changing the environment or the organisation has to adapt to it. This chapter suggests a descriptive approach. It analyses theoretically and empirically the question of how PR manages the difference between external communication and internal consulting. A theoretical framework based on systems theory is presented. Key aspects of the approach have been tested with a quantitative online survey among communication professionals in Germany.

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This chapter builds on status as sociological ordering and introduces the relevance of high status for organisations and their strategic communication. It offers new insights into organisational leadership perceptions from a stakeholder perspective. A neo-institutional framework is combined with social judgement theory and positioning theory to emphasise the importance of high status for organisations. Research questions are derived from previous research and tested in a representative online survey among 4,054 citizens and an online survey among 1,346 communication professionals in 10 European countries. Results suggest that trustworthiness and quality are the main attributes that describe a high-status position. Communication professionals in the surveyed countries overestimate innovation for building a leadership position. In contrast, customer service is clearly underestimated. Not only do the leadership attributes differ widely across the surveyed countries, but so do the communication activities that form a view on the leadership of a company or organisation.

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Traditionally, the debate on communication value and the contribution of communication professionals to organisational decision-making has been linked to diverging roles (managers, technicians). This chapter introduces an alternative view, based on an exploratory, qualitative study of communication professionals in Finland. It focuses on the diverse ways in which these professionals contribute to organisational decision-making. The results show a rich, constantly developing picture of communication practices, which challenges the traditional dichotomy of manager and technician roles.

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This chapter takes a critical look at the use of quantitative indicators, operationalised in tools such as a Balanced Scorecard (BSC), in public sector management. The selection of information on which to manage an organisation is a difficult question for any organisation; however, this is particularly difficult in the public sector. Where most private organisations ultimately have one unambiguous goal, public organisations’ objectives are more complex. Using a case study of the public services division of the municipality of Amsterdam, the chapter explores the way in which quantitative data are used, and uncovers five challenges in the management information cycle, focusing on (1) the limited scope of insights that can be expressed in quantitative data, (2) steering or accounting for the performance of an organisation, (3) the social goals that are inherently part of public organisations’ objectives, (4) the ethical dimension of the ever larger body of information that can be measured and (5) the acknowledgement of the difference between regular and custom services. Based on these findings the chapter works towards a new structure for management information (and communication), looking to overcome the above-mentioned challenges.

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The strategic role of corporate communication within modern organisations is recognised by both scholars and practitioners. Corporate communication supports management in interpreting contextual dynamics or in aligning corporate strategies with stakeholders’ needs. However, despite the growing acknowledgement of communication relevance, contributions about how professionals could effectively support organisations in creating value lack empirical examination. To fill this gap, this chapter adopts a managerial perspective for examining how communication strategically contributes to create shared value. In particular, it introduces the Creating Shared Value approach to the body of knowledge in strategic communication. A qualitative case study research design has been implemented. It was focused on Barilla Group, the international food company. This chapter enriches the strategic communication perspective by better defining the contribution of communication to the value creation process. It also outlines specific strategic competences that practitioners should acquire if they want to play a strategic role within organisations.

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Part III: New and Emergent Thinking around the Practice

Abstract

This chapter attempts to critique the role of mentoring relationships which are identified by Levinson (1987) as ‘one of the most complex and developmentally important relations’. Providing psychosocial and career support (Kram, 1983, 1985) public relations practitioners, employers and professional bodies could benefit from the literature and empirical studies which demonstrate the powerful relationships that can develop through mentoring. This chapter critiques the mentoring programmes identified through empirical research of public relations’ professional bodies (Kiesenbauer et al., 2015) and the findings of a European study of public relations practitioners (Zerfass et al., 2014) in order to contextualise the literature and consider how the public relations profession can make better use of the dynamic mentoring relationship.

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This chapter outlines current and emerging approaches in change communication from both scholarly and practice perspectives, and what this means for organisations and practitioners, including practical implications for education. A literature review is conducted using the Kemmis and McTaggart framework for studying practice based on individual-social, objective-subjective dichotomies leading to an integrated reflexive-dialectical approach. Five roles are suggested for the practitioner in leading and influencing change, namely that of a Communication Architect, a Story-enabler, an Empathiser, an Engager and a Community Builder. These roles go beyond the traditional informative role, to practitioners co-constructing communication with stakeholders during change. With new ways of thinking about change management, there is the possibility for new methods of educating practitioners beyond the traditional qualification or professional certification. These would require greater collaboration between scholars and practitioners in creating vehicles for continuous learning.

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Dialogue has been an elusive concept for academics when it comes to its definition within organisational contexts. In spite of the vast amount of academic research, it is not easy to find concrete proposals – both from theoretical and empirical standpoints – that analyse how companies manage dialogue processes with their stakeholders. The aim of this chapter is to fill this gap by highlighting the role of dialogue in strategic decision-making processes. In order to achieve this purpose, this work is structured into two parts. Firstly, multidisciplinary literature regarding how Public Relations and Management studies research on dialogue is reviewed. Secondly, the chapter presents a managerial proposal of dialogue for decision-making processes called the IDEA model. This chapter aims to scale back the theoretical fragmentation of the concept of dialogue while looking into its practicality based on an original proposal for scholars and practitioners.

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Small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are seldom the focus of corporate communication research. However, they are the heart of the European economy and, as such, of utmost importance for communication science and practice. This chapter contributes to the body of knowledge by investigating how corporate communication is practised and by understanding how communication prevails in small and medium firms in Germany. The chapter starts with a clarification of current definitions of such organisations, which are very heterogeneous. Special features of SMEs – like the strong position of founder and their proximity to the company – have to be taken into account when analysing communication structures and activities. Empirical insights based on a survey of 572 respondents show that most SMEs understand corporate communication as dialogue and their governance structure for communication is oriented towards the top management. The most important communication instruments used by SMEs are websites, media relations, personal communication and events/trade fairs. Findings are presented and linked to an overarching perspective of strategic communication.

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Index

Pages 293-297
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Cover of The Management Game of Communication
DOI
10.1108/S2398-391420161
Publication date
2016-08-26
Book series
Advances in Public Relations and Communication Management
Editors
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
ISBN
978-1-78635-716-8
Book series ISSN
2398-3914