The role of corporate communications in agile organizations

As an organizational function that is deeply affected by all changes in the external and internal environment of an organization, corporate communications has recently been forced to cope with the challenges associated with agility. Communication departments have three overall tasks in the context of agility:

Communication, enablement, and transformation.


Which roles do communication departments play in agile organizations?



Key facts

  • The communication department can play a central role in the transformation of an organization into a more agile entity.
  • There are three overall tasks for communication departments: communication, enablement, and transformation.
  • A core task is to communicate the agile transformation internally by creating a new corporate culture, and externally by shaping an agile image of the company.
  • Communication departments carry a special responsibility for driving overall organizational agility by enabling other members of the corporation.
  • The most challenging task is to transform the communication department itself.
  • Driving organizational agility offers the opportunity for the communication department to take on a new role within the organization and shed light on the contributions of communications to corporate success.



  • A systematic literature review across various disciplines was conducted to gain a comprehensive understanding of the concept of agility and its key dimensions.
  • Several conceptual agility frameworks were analysed and relevant aspects for communication management were synthesised.
  • Thirty-eight in-depth interviews with chief communication officers and senior communication managers from multinational companies were conducted between January and March 2018. The companies came from diverse industries and together represent more than three million employees.
  • First case studies in selected departments were conducted between August and September 2018 to gain further insights into the practices of coping with agility in communication departments. Further case studies will follow.


Scientific background

Research into professional roles has been a very popular research topic in communication and management sciences for decades. Previous research has shed light on the role of corporate communications in organizations – not specifically in agile organizations.

  • The Communications Contributions Framework outlines four core contributions of the communication department in order to explain communications’ impact in its complexity: Convey & Multiply, Align & Contribute, Steer & Manage and Advise & Coach.
  • The Communication Manager Roles Grid depicts the role diversity of today’s communication executives in eight dimensions: Multiplicator, professional communicator, operational manager, coach, advisor, strategic manager, communication strategist, ambassador.