Completed Research Projects

Nr. 9 // Persönliche Kommunikationsformate in der Unternehmenskommunikation

Claudia Mast, Helena Stehle

  • Research Report No. 9 (German)

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How relevant is personal communication within and for companies? What formats of personal communication do exist? And what expectations of personal communication do internal and external stakeholder groups, such as managers, employees or journalists have? From a scientific perspective these issues have not yet been sufficiently researched.

The study by Claudia Mast and Helena Stehle of the University of Hohenheim (Stuttgart) explored these questions and sought to provide guidance on how different formats of personal communication could be used in corporate communications. As part of the study, detailed interviews were conducted with 670 executives about their understanding and expectations of personal communication.

The results showed that despite being very time and resource-consuming, personal communication was highly valued by all stakeholders, especially with regards to complex, critical, and emotional situations. According to the study, personal communication, however, could only be successful if it allowed for genuine dialogue and if both partners were able to speak on an equal footing.  However, this could potentially make it difficult to steer and navigate communication. The real challenge of communication management therefore lies in deciding when best to put personal communication into practice.

Nr. 8 // Karriere im Kommunikationsmanagement

Janne Stahl, Ulrike Röttger

  • Research Report No. 7

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  • Key Findings

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The research report "Careers in Communication Management" by Janne Stahl and Ulrike Roettger examines the expectations of the next generation of communication managers. The following aspects have been researched: Which communication activities are they most interested in? How do they go about applying for jobs? Which aspects are important when choosing an employer and a job? How much do they expect to earn? More than 200 students on public relations MA programs in Germany were interviewed in the summer of 2014 to shed light on the above questions.

The study shows that the expectations of these students reflect the values of generation Y: they do not want to choose between aspects such as a work-life balance, job security, a good salary and career options - they want to be able to reconcile these aspects. A job should be challenging, fun and also allow for independent work. A positive work environment and corporate culture are important to them, whereas the size and internationality of a company only play a subordinate role. The students themselves demonstrate a high level of commitment, want to be challenged and want to take on responsibility in the job. Of particular interest for young PR-professionals are the areas of internal and brand communications. As  ‘generalist specialists’ they want  to specialize in one specific communication area, yet at the same time they do not want to miss the bigger picture. They also think that the PR department should enjoy a high degree of acceptance within the company and the company itself should promote fairness and collegiality. When looking for a job, corporate websites are the first point of contact. Social networks are considered less important for the job search despite the high online-affinity of this generation.

Nr. 7 // Corporate Communications and Public Relations in Asia

Lisa Dühring, Ansgar Zerfaß

  • Research Report No. 7

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  • Key Findings

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This research paper by Lisa Dühring and Ansgar Zerfass at the University of Leipzig offers insights into the status quo of corporate communications and public relations in Asia and analyzes the political, economic and cultural context in which practitioners operate. As a result of the economic upswing and political opening of Asian nations over the last decade, the fields of corporate communications and PR have experienced an expansion and professionalization. However, these developments differ from those in Western countries. Political and cultural particularities have led to specific characteristics of Asian corporate communications/PR such as the importance of personal relationships and hierarchy. As Asian markets become increasingly important in terms of production and sales and with growing numbers of international companies establishing parts of their HQs and communication units in Asia, a deeper understanding of the communicative environment for German communication managers has become a must.

Nr. 6 // Employer Relations und Erwartungen potenzieller Mitarbeiter

Claudia Mast, Alexandra Simtion, Klaus Spachmann

  • Research Report No. 6 (German)

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  • Key Findings (German)

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How do people find out about employers? At the end of 2014 the University of Hohenheim (Stuttgart) under the leadership of Professor Claudia Mast interviewed almost 1300 German employees, students and trainees about how they go about looking for a new job. The study results provided important insights for corporations and their employer relations: Firstly it revealed the kinds of topics employers need to address with regards to job applicants, secondly it shed light on the different channels applicants used when looking for a new position, and thirdly what was important for them when choosing a new job.

The researchers found that companies should pay more attention to ‘soft’ issues such as the working environment. A good organizational climate was one of the most important selection criteria for a new job. Social media, however, seemed to be overestimated as source of information about new jobs. The results also showed that employer communication should be set up as a strategic cooperation between Human Resources and Corporate Communications with the primary purpose of creating an attractive employer image for the corporation.

Nr. 5 // CEO- und Unternehmensreputation

Joachim Schwalbach

  • Research Report No. 5 (German)

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  • Key Findings (German)

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Reputation and Business Success is the world’s largest study on the reputation of CEOs in Germany and was carried out by the Humboldt University of Berlin under the direction of Joachim Schwalbach. More than 1,800 top executives from ten sectors were interviewed in 2013 to evaluate the reputation of the CEOs of Germany’s largest companies. The executives were asked about aspects influencing the reputation of CEOs the most and levers that can be influenced by corporate communications. This study was compared with two additional surveys on corporate reputation in order to determine the importance of the CEO for the company's image. Thousands of executives were surveyed in 2011 and 2013.

The results show that corporate and CEO reputation varied widely. Although industry effects played an important role, they do not guarantee a good reputation. Furthermore, the study showed that reputation usually remains relatively stable over time, however corporate crises can lead to a considerable loss of reputation in the short-term. An additional important result of the study was the close link between reputation and corporate values.

Nr. 4 // Ethische Richtlinien in der Unternehmenskommunikation

Günter Bentele, Jens Seiffert

  • Research Report No. 4 (German)

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  • Key Findings (German)

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In 2012 the Deutsche Kommunikationskodex was presented by the German Council for Public Relations (DRPR) as the new ethical standard for the communications industry. The research report by Günter Bentele and Jens Seiffert at the University of Leipzig looked into how the German communication codex as well as other regulations, such as the Code de Lisbonne or the Code d'Athènes, have been implemented in corporate communications. To do so communications professionals from over 100 of the largest companies in Germany were interviewed in 2014. They were asked about how important communication ethics are in their everyday work and about the challenges of integrating ethical guidelines into compliance regulation or work contracts.

The results of the study reveal that communications managers of large companies were well aware of the importance of ethically correct communication and see it as a challenge for the coming years. More than ever the license to operate depends on public trust and adherence to ethical standards. However, the research project also found that there are still several obstacles to overcome before ethical communication codices can be implemented successfully.

Nr. 3 // Erfolgsfaktoren der CR-Kommunikation

Ulrike Röttger, Jana Schmitt

  • Research Report No. 3 (German)

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This research report identified empirical success factors for communicating corporate responsibility (CR). Insights are based on qualitative interviews with communication and CSR managers from 13 out of the 31 leading global corporations in Germany according to CSR rankings and CSR awards. Findings confirmed that excellent CR communication must be aligned to long-term corporate strategies rather than pursuing short-term goals.

Indicators for strategic implementation of CR included an ongoing reflection of the company's CR positioning, making CR a part of strategy papers and guidelines, and institutionalizing CR structures from job profiles to organizational units. To make CR communication authentic and credible, it is important to openly communicate the link between business goals and social responsibility. Corporate responsibility content should be customized according to the need of various stakeholders, but be consistent regarding the key messages. Furthermore, excellent CR communication should be transparent, credible and dialogue-oriented.

Nr. 2 // Unternehmenskommunikation aus der Sicht von Vorständen und Kommunikationsmanagern

Ansgar Zerfaß, Günter Bentele, Joachim Schwalbach, Muschda Sherzada

  • Research Report No. 2 (German)

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This research report provides empirical insights into top executives’ perceptions of corporate communications on the one hand and communication professionals on the other hand. Common viewpoints and divergences were identified and discussed. The research was based on two surveys with responses from 602 CEOs and executive board members as well as 1,251 communication managers from German companies.

While top executives rated the information and motivation of employees as the most important objective of communication, communication professionals saw the creation of a positive image as their main task. Respondents from both groups also stated different opinions about dealing with the demand for transparency. Both top executives and communicators were in favour of a role model that sees communication professionals as facilitators between an organization and its publics. 50% of CEOs or board members said that communication managers act as personal advisors. But other questions revealed significant differences.

The overall conclusion of the study was that perspectives often diverge and so attention should be directed toward a better cooperation between top management and those leading the communication function.

Nr. 1 // Führung im Kommunikationsmanagement

Ulrike Röttger, Ansgar Zerfaß, Juliane Kiesenbauer, Janne Stahl

  • Research Report No. 1 (German)

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This research report provides insights into the new research area of Leadership in Communication Management. It is based on the first international study on that topic with more than 4,000 respondents from 23 countries. The comparison of results from Germany, Austria and Switzerland with data from North and South America as well as Asia revealed interesting findings, e.g. current challenges for executives and key requirements for excellent leadership in communication management.

A key conclusion was that communication management in German-speaking countries stands up well to international comparisons. Basic organizational conditions for excellent leadership were in place and participants of the survey were optimistic about the future of their profession. Both females and males were perceived to be equally capable leaders. The biggest challenge in the everyday work of leaders in communication management was dealing with the speed and volume of the information flow. Coping with the digital revolution and crisis communication were also mentioned as relevant topics. The most important prerequisite for successful leadership in communication management was to involve the head of communications in the strategic decision-making processes of the organization.

Book // The Strategists, Visionaries and Networkers of Corporate Communications

Ansgar Zerfass, Juliane Kiesenbauer

Communication is ubiquitous and essential in business. Those who want to compete in the global media society must demonstrate their performance, convey visions and legitimize their own actions. So far, little is known about the leaders who are responsible for managing strategic communications in the corporate world. This book fills the gap. It portrays 20 Chief Communication Officers of major players in German industry. In addition, 20 communicators of the younger generation from the same companies present their points of view. As such, a multi-faceted picture of the practice and its future emerges.

The publication was produced as part of an applied research project at the Institute of Communication and Media Studies at the University of Leipzig. The project was supported by the Academic Society for Corporate Management and Communication. Therefore, a free PDF version of the book is available. Printed copies are available at the Academic Society upon request.