Corporate communication as governance instrument in higher education: A qualitative analysis of corporate design rationales in German universities

Angela Graf, Klarissa Lueg

Publikation: Konferencebidrag uden forlag/tidsskriftPaperForskningpeer review


Topic: In the last decades, strategic organizational communication has taken over many universities (Diefenbach, 2009). German universities provide an interesting context to explore this issue: on the one hand, German universities, with their legal chairholder autonomy, have introduced managerialism at a comparatively slow pace. On the other hand, this (deceptive) autonomy makes way for compliance towards soft governance policies. One of these policies pertains to Corporate Design (CD): universities disseminate guidelines as to the use of symbolism and all forms of planned communication. We want to explore what motivates this development, and ask: What are the ration-ales behind introducing Corporate Design in the university sector? Approach: Our case study of 36 German universities takes a virtual ethnographic approach (Figaredo et al., 2007). We analyze the CD policies and their prefaces employing qualitative content analysis. Findings: We find that CD is being used for integrated communication with external stakeholders. CD, via its routinized use, is to align the „social identity“ of faculty with „corporate identity“ (Cornelissen et al., 2007). Organizational identity is clearly subordinated to the corporate identity. Faculty is subjected to this process and coerced into compliance. Consequently, they are being marginalized as stakeholders.

References: Cornelissen, J., Haslam, S. A. and Balmer, J. M. (2007), "Social identity, organizational identity and corporate identity: Towards an integrated understanding of processes, patternings and products", British journal of management, Vol. 18 No., pp. S1-S16. Diefenbach, T. (2009), "New public management in public sector organizations: the dark sides of managerialistic 'enlightenment'", Public Administration, Vol. 87 No. 4, pp. 892. Figaredo, D. D., Beaulieu, A., Estalella, A., Gómez, E., Schnettler, B. and Read, R. (2007), "Virtual Ethnography", Forum: Qualitative Social Research, Vol. 8 No. 3.
StatusUdgivet - 2019
BegivenhedThe Dark Side of Communication: 2nd International and Interdisciplinary Conference on Discourse and Communication in Professional Contexts - Aalborg University, Aalborg, Danmark
Varighed: 14. aug. 201916. aug. 2019


KonferenceThe Dark Side of Communication
LokationAalborg University