Purpose research

What on earth do communication professionals do?

As the world gets more connected, the importance of organizational communication rises (Coebergh, 2011; Cornelissen, 2020). However, there is still little agreement on what communication is, let alone how to practice it (Littlejohn, Foss, & Oetzel, 2017). Managing communication is what communication professionals do, for a living. But what do they exactly do, and how should they do it? We started to explore these questions to better understand, and improve, the work of communication professionals, in as many countries we can handle.

These are five characteristics of our approach:

  1. Theory: our research is unique in testing a well-known and robust theory – being David Berlo’s (1960) Sender-Message-Channel-Receiver Model of Communication to analyze what communication professionals do.
  2. Density: we aim for large numbers of respondents in each participating country (targeting hundreds, not dozens of respondents), to be able to draw conclusions for the whole community of communication professionals in these countries.
  3. Open source: we strive to make our (anonymous) data available for anyone who is interested (expected during the second half of 2023).
  4. Connecting students and professionals: our research connects and strengthens students who interview communication professionals with the help of our validated survey.
  5. Multi-year, multi-language, same survey: after a year of fine tuning, with many peers, we developed a questionnaire that we find to be fit to be used in every country where communication professionals are active. By using standardized questions since 2018 in every country we work with, we maximize the possibility of comparisons cross-country, as well as through time.