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Research Case studies

European Communication Monitor

Ralph Tench is Professor of Communication and Director of PhD programmes in the Faculty of Business and Law. He is involved in sourcing and managing research projects as professor with additional Faculty responsibility for nearly 200 full and part time doctoral students. He has been pursuing his interest in corporate communication practice for the last 20 years.

This has led to his involvement for the past seven years with the European Communication Monitor (ECM), www.communicationmonitor.eu. The aim of this programme of research is to conduct an annual quantitative survey of communications practitioners from across Europe to build knowledge and understanding of the similarities and differences in communications practice across the continent. The survey has been running since 2007, is funded by private industry and for the past three years by the leading global communications consultancy group, Ketchum. This has also led to spin-off research projects which are also funded by Ketchum, such as the European Chief Communication Officers Survey, ECCOS, in 2013.

The objectives of the ECM are to measure and monitor the practice of communication practitioners across Europe. The research methods applied for the ECM are a quantitative, on-line self-completion survey of senior communication practitioners from across 47 countries in Europe. The survey is disseminated electronically in March each year, analysed using SPSS in April and May for reporting and dissemination in June and July each year. It is a large and comprehensive research instrument with each question based on literature and hypotheses. Each year the instrument has consistent questions for longitudinal analysis as well as annual customised questions of focus on topics such as gender, leadership, education, CSR, etc. The findings are then presented at the European Association of Communication Directors (EACD) conference in Brussels in July each year.

The research team has been endeavouring to map and monitor the landscape of communication practice across Europe. As a consequence the ECM is the largest and longest running international research project of its kind. It provides unique annual trend data about the practice of corporate and organizational communication across Europe.

Ralph says that the key issues surrounding the topic are transition and change for the communication sector. This relates to the changing role and impact of technology as well as national and regional differences in practice throughout Europe. Of the project, he states that “each year it builds on knowledge but also adds new knowledge as different areas of focus are addressed through the detailed research instrument. A lot has been learnt and its application is both relevant for academics and practitioners. This can be observed in the high level of academic engagement as well as the detailed interaction and application with the practitioner community”.

In addition to being presented at the EACD conference, the ECM has generated a large amount of literature both for academic journals and practitioner publications (more than 20 articles plus considerable online and press coverage since 2009).

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