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“It’s Not so Easy to Measure impact”: A Qualitative Analysis of How Universities Measure and Evaluate Their Communication


Sörensen, Isabel; Volk, Sophia Charlotte; Fürst, Silke; Vogler, Daniel; Schäfer, Mike S (2024). “It’s Not so Easy to Measure impact”: A Qualitative Analysis of How Universities Measure and Evaluate Their Communication. International Journal of Strategic Communication, 18(2):93-114.

Abstract

Universities are key actors at the intersection of science and society and their strategic communication and its effective implementation is essential, as is the measurement and evaluation (M&E) of its impact. Despite the growing relevance of M&E in university communication, however, empirical studies on the subject are rare. Therefore, this study explores M&E practices of central communication departments at Swiss universities through semi-structured interviews and document analysis. Findings show that M&E are still in its infancy at most universities. The study identifies resources and skills of communication professionals, digital technologies as well as a culture of learning as the primary factors enabling or constraining M&E. Findings show that the organizational context, notably the (perceived) degree of competition, the availability of personnel resources, and the professionalism of the communication department, rather than the sector of higher education itself, influences M&E practices. In addition to resources, our findings point to an engaged leadership actively supporting a culture of learning and the further development of skills in communication departments as the most important factor for M&E practices.

Abstract

Universities are key actors at the intersection of science and society and their strategic communication and its effective implementation is essential, as is the measurement and evaluation (M&E) of its impact. Despite the growing relevance of M&E in university communication, however, empirical studies on the subject are rare. Therefore, this study explores M&E practices of central communication departments at Swiss universities through semi-structured interviews and document analysis. Findings show that M&E are still in its infancy at most universities. The study identifies resources and skills of communication professionals, digital technologies as well as a culture of learning as the primary factors enabling or constraining M&E. Findings show that the organizational context, notably the (perceived) degree of competition, the availability of personnel resources, and the professionalism of the communication department, rather than the sector of higher education itself, influences M&E practices. In addition to resources, our findings point to an engaged leadership actively supporting a culture of learning and the further development of skills in communication departments as the most important factor for M&E practices.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Department of Communication and Media Research
Dewey Decimal Classification:070 News media, journalism & publishing
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > Communication
Social Sciences & Humanities > Sociology and Political Science
Language:English
Date:14 March 2024
Deposited On:10 Jun 2024 13:45
Last Modified:11 Jun 2024 20:00
Publisher:Taylor & Francis
ISSN:1553-118X
OA Status:Hybrid
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1080/1553118x.2024.2317771
Project Information:
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant ID184992
  • : Project TitleHochschulkommunikation in der Schweiz: Status Quo und Entwicklung der externen, öffentlichen Kommunikation von Hochschulen
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)