Methodology of the research module "The Value of Corporate Communications"

The research module "The Value of Corporate Communications" is part of the overall research program Value Creating Communication initiated by the Academic Society for Management & Communication.

A research team at the University of Leipzig explored five questions by combining different qualitative methodologies:

  1. Which roles are performed by Chief Communication Officers?
  2. How do communication departments contribute to success?
  3. What are the core values generated by communication?
  4. How can communication be aligned with corporate strategy?
  5. How can communications be managed and steered? 

Research process

Phase 1 - Literature Review

  • As the first step, we systematized the existing academic knowledge on value creation published from the year 2000 onwards. The literature review identified 815 publications in 36 international journals, books as well as professional publications across several disciplines (public relations, marketing, management, etc.), which investigate value creation through communication. Moreover, various concepts of value creation in business were explored and integrated into our analysis.
  • Based on this extensive review, we developed a first theoretical rationale of value creating communication.
  • We presented our preliminary findings in an interdisciplinary workshop with leading international researchers, communication and business experts and collated the know-how and experience from corporate practice and neighboring research disciplines. 

Phase 2 - Case Studies

  • We conducted qualitative case studies in 10 organizations across different industries, combining in-depth interviews with heads of corporate communications and document analyses of more than 50 internal and external strategy documents, planning documents, and strategy formulations in annual reports.
  • The interviews lasted between 90 and 180 minutes and included an interactive exercise to trigger the interviewees' opinions about how communication contributes to corporate value creation.
  • In addition to the empirical material, we conducted a supplementary literature review to contrast the empirical data with the findings from the latest international research in the fields of communication and management.
  • The goal was to reconstruct the current realities in communication departments and compare the self-descriptions of communicators with concepts discussed in research.  

Phase 3 - Analysis and results

  • We summarized and synthesized all theoretical and empirical results, leading to the development of new frameworks, perspectives and concepts: the Communication Manager Roles Grid, the Communications Contributions Framework, the Communication Value Circle, the Alignment Process, and the Toolbox for Strategic Communication Management.
  • We have started to present our findings at industry and academic conferences across Europe, the United States, the United Kingdom and Asia to collate feedback from academics as well as communication executives. We have used the feedback to derive real-world implications for corporate practice with scientific claims and to develop new perspectives for future research.