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Eine Idee wird Wirklichkeit

In other scientific fields, such as engineering or the natural sciences, there is often a close collaboration between businesses and universities. This is, however, not yet the case for communication science in Germany or Europe. Only in the United States was a similar initiative established in the 1980s – the Arthur W. Page Society.

As in the US, strategic corporate communications in Germany and Europe have undergone a significant professionalization in recent years. The field’s acceptance and importance have increased. Collaboration with other departments and involvement in strategic business decisions has also intensified significantly, and the need for highly qualified communication professionals has risen accordingly.

This led to the idea of setting up a joint research initiative between industry and science. In 2009, Professors Bernd Schuppener, Günter Bentele and Ansgar Zerfass from the University of Leipzig developed a concept, which was supported by other professors and companies.

In November 2010, the Academic Society was officially founded. Since then it has worked together with more than 30 corporate partners and has implemented more than a dozen research projects.


2010 // Foundation

  • Bernd Schuppener, Werner Süss and the honorary chairman Günter F. Thiele are appointed curators of the Academic Society and are responsible for managing  the SPRL Foundation and the Academic Society.

  • Five professors (Günter Bentele, Claudia Mast, Ulrike Röttger, Joachim Schwalbach and Ansgar Zerfass) specializing in communications and corporate management take over the scientific lead of the initiative.

  • The first corporate partners of the Academic Society include Andreas Breitsprecher (Vattenfall), Uta-Micaela Dürig (Robert Bosch), Christof Ehrhart (Deutsche Post DHL Group), Thomas Mickeleit (Microsoft Germany), Ulrich Ott (ING-DiBa), Elisabeth Schick (BASF), Maximilian Schöberl (BMW Group) and Thomas Voigt (Otto Group).

  • The position paper Quo vadis, communication? is published outlining the gaps in PR research and in the cooperation between universities and companies - both topics that the newly established Academic Society aims to address.

  • An office is set up in Leipzig to coordinate the Academic Society’s work.

  • The Hermes Dinner on November 18th 2010 in the Emil-Rathenau-Haus in Berlin marks the official inauguration of the Academic Society. Approximately 30 people take part in the inaugural meeting. Strategy and future activities are defined.

2011 // Expansion

  • Launch of the Knowledge Base on the website of the Academic Society. It summarizes the results of relevant PR publications, journals, and studies.

  • A research fund to promote and implement research projects is set up.

  • Additional communication executives of major German and international companies join as partners. Their number increases to more than 20.

  • Twice a year, sponsors and researchers gather at the Leadership Forum and the Hermes Dinner. They decide on new research projects, discuss research results as well as the latest challenges in corporate communications. Renowned researchers from all over the world are invited for presentations and discussions.

2012 & 2013 // Research Impulses and Knowledge Transfer

  • The number of sponsors increases to 30.

  • The Academic Society awards two Ph.D. scholarships focusing on the topic of Leadership in Communication Management.

  • Several research projects are implemented with the support of our corporate partners, including a study on leadership in communications management, and the first comprehensive survey among executives on the importance of strategic communication.

2014 // Vision for Reorientation

  • An interview series profiles communication executives and junior executives from among our corporate sponsors. During a discussion of the results it becomes clear that the interviewees outline their roles and responsibilities very differently. A common language is clearly missing, not only between colleagues and management, but also between corporate communications and the general public.

  • Bilateral discussions give rise to the idea of redefining the role of corporate communications. As a result, a ground-breaking research program is developed – Value Creating Communication. It is set to run for five years and divided into four modules, the contents of which are defined together with our corporate partners.

  • The Academic Society becomes part of the Günter-Thiele-Foundation for Communication and Management.

2015 // Start of Value Creating Communication

  • Value Creating Communication - the world's most comprehensive research program on corporate communications - is launched The key issues and challenges of corporate communications are explored interdisciplinary, across a number of universities and together with our corporate partners.

  • The collaboration between communication executives and researchers is intensified.  Advisory boards and an overarching steering board are set up for each of the four modules.

  • The new publication series Communication Insights is launched, giving a short and precise overview of the research results of Value Creating Communication.