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Perception and Positioning of Communication Departments


Prof. Dr. Ansgar Zerfaß

Prof. Ansgar Zerfaß

About the research project

Title: Perception and Positioning of Communication Departments: A Multi-Method Study on the Recognition and Acceptance of Communication Departments in German Companies.

Team: Prof. Dr. Ansgar Zerfaß, Jana Brockhaus (Leipzig University)

Project period: October 2023May 2024

The majority of staff and budgets are not sufficient to achieve the strategic goals that corporate communications has set for itself. This is confirmed by current benchmark studies for Germany and Austria.

Many communications departments report a higher internal appreciation of their work after the COVID-19 pandemic. However, this is rarely accompanied by an increase in resources.

The new research project at Leipzig University investigates how colleagues perceive communications departments and how they position themselves strategically to increase their recognition within the company.

Ansgar Zerfass, Leipzig University

“It is not enough to propagate the value contribution of corporate communications in one’s profession and to define new roles. In the internal organizational battle for mandates and responsibilities, it is much more a matter of recognition and acceptance.”

Professor Ansgar Zerfaß, Leipzig University


Research questions

  1. Internal perception and acceptance: How do the top management, executives, and employees in German companies perceive the performance of communications departments, including their goals and tasks?
  2. Internal positioning: What strategies do communications managers in German companies pursue to secure and expand the mandates and resources of their departments?

Research Design

Using a multi-method design, empirical data will be collected for the first time for the German-speaking region:

  • As a first step, a quantitative survey among top management, executives, and employees in German companies will measure the perception of communications departments.
  • In the second step, a qualitative survey will examine how communication departments position themselves internally. By interviewing communication professionals, the researchers will investigate strategies for securing and expanding the respective mandates and resources.

Added value for communication departments

Communications leaders can use the findings to challenge perceptions of their department and its performance and develop or improve their positioning strategy based on the identified best practices.