Program Group Directors: dr. Piet Verhoeven & dr. Claartje ter Hoeven
Research in the programme group Corporate Communication focuses on the development, execution and especially the effects of communication strategies towards internal and external stakeholders of organizations. These organizations include companies in the private sector, but also civil society and public organizations. Communication strategies are directed towards mass media (public relations), government institutions (public affairs), investors, and employees. Depending on the stakeholder of communication, one can talk about external or internal communication, though this distinction has increasingly blurred.
By its focus on the whole process of communication management, research in Corporate Communication fits nicely in the broader ASCoR research programme, that focuses on production, content and effects of communication, with a special interest in the (broadly defined) consequences of communication.
Research in external communication focuses on questions such as:
It takes traditional media effects theories such as agenda setting and framing as a starting point. Focus is on a wide variety of organizations – ranging from corporate actors to interest groups and public organizations. These organizations can be studied separately, for example by investigating on the effects media coverage has on stock market ratings or the consequences of the communication of corporate social responsibility on the perception of a variety of stakeholders. Typically, however, multiple organizations are considered in conjunction, assessing how different actors in a ‘multi-organizational field’ compete over attention and favourable coverage – for example in times of crisis – where companies, regulatory authorities, government actors, news organizations and social movements struggle and negotiate over definitions of the problem and possible solutions. The communication efforts of different organizations are so far rarely considered simultaneously and help to further our understanding of the success of failure of communication strategies of different organizations in turbulent and uncertain situations.
Research in internal communication deals with the role communication plays in the relation between employers and employees and how new communication technologies affect employees. These issues are in principle studied in relation to external communication – ultimately, the question how these internal communication processes affect the way organizations communicate externally and are perceived by external stakeholders is central.
Again, content and effects of communication are central: how organizations communicate internally about issues and specific subgroups such as ethnic minorities and older employees and how that affects attitudes and behaviour of employees is a central question. Stereotyping and framing are guiding theoretical principles. New technologies, such as social media, changed the way the interaction between employers and employees take place and how working processes are structured. How new media are used by employees in large organizations and how this has consequences within the organization, for example on commitment towards the organization or well-being, as well as externally, for example on the views of stakeholders, is a key question.
Methodologically, research relies on a combination of content analyses, experimental research and intervention studies.
For a summary of the current Corporate Communication PhD research projects go to:
For more information about the Master Corporate Communication go to: