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Internationale Auszeichnung für Forschungsprojekt

Studie zur Unternehmenskommunikation aus der Perspektive des Top-Managements als bestes peer-reviewed paper in den USA ausgezeichnet.

The peer-reviewed paper "Corporate communications from the CEO’s perspective: How top executives conceptualize and value strategic communication” has been acknowledged as the best paper on international strategic communication at the International Public Relations Research Conference 2014 in Miami. The award was presented by Koichi Yamamura, Media Gain, Tokio, to authors Ansgar Zerfass and Muschda Sherzada last Saturday (photo). IPRRC is known as the most important summit for scholars in the field from all over the world; more than 100 accepted papers were presented during three days.


About the paper: The performance of corporate communications depends heavily on the perceptions, beliefs, and expectations that chief executive officers (CEOs) and other top executives hold towards communication and its contribution to organizational goals. However, little is known about this. Most knowledge on the view of top executives is based on qualitative interviews with leaders of organizations that are known to be at the forefront of strategic communication. The overall picture in business might be quite different. This paper aims to close this research gap. It is based on a quantitative survey of 602 CEOs and board members in the largest European country, Germany. The research questions address the perceptions and expectations of CEOs and executive board members concerning a) the relevance of public opinion and contribution of communication performance to organizational success, b) the communicative role of top executives and their interaction with professional communicators, c) the objectives and values of corporate communications, and d) the importance of various disciplines and instruments. The study identifies a traditional mindset towards communications: top executives focus on primary stakeholders (customers, employees) instead of secondary stakeholders (politicians, activists), they value mass media higher than social media, and they rate speaking more important than listening. Moreover, communication professionals are not always the first choice when CEOs and board members reflect on the topics at hand. This indicates that advanced visions of strategic communication developed in academia and practice have not yet arrived in many boardrooms. The authors argue that is still a long way to go to establish communication excellence in business.

An infographic (PDF) with key results is available here; the full paper will be submitted to an academic journal. The research was supported by the Academic Society for Corporate Management & Communication, an initiative of 30 blue chip companies and leading universities in the German-speaking countries to foster research in strategic communication.