Exploring University communications: Organization of University communications in relation to the form of university

  • Project team:

    Böschen, Stefan (Project leader ITAS)

  • Funding:


  • Start date:


  • End date:


  • Project partners:

    WMK (KIT)

  • Research group:

    Knowledge society and knowledge politics

Project description

University Communications is becoming more important in the competitive field of science and humanities. Universities are going to position themselves strategically in accordance with their goals. Thereby, following our initial assumption, form, goals and organization of the respective units for university communications vary specifically. Therefore and in the meantime, there is a shift in studies about science communication including questions with regard to the segment of organizational communication and public relations of universities. Nevertheless, neither the principal question addressing the forms of organizing university communications on a Meso- and Micro-level nor the organization of university communications in relation to the overall structure of universities were thoroughly analyzed yet.

Against this background, this pilot project is posing the following questions: How do the multifaceted conflicts of internal processes influence the organizing of university communications? How do the organizational structures and the leeway of individual action relate to each other and which significance play differences in power between units of university communications and the board of management of the university? What are the processes and mechanisms to solve conflicts of goals and to bargain compromise? Are there typical constellations of the form of university and the form of organizing university communications? Aim of the project is relating ways of organizing university communications and forms of university and identifying ideal typical constellations of both.

A form of university can be described as specific occurrence of features like trusteeship (state, economy, church), type of university (University, university of applied science) and their size (namely the number of students registered at the university). On this basis a set of exemplary cases will be selected and focused case studies will be conceived for exploring the concrete organizing of university communications at respect universities. University communications and its structural embeddedness are to be seen as result as well as instrument of dynamics of change within universities.

Therefore, it is key to map the diversity of university communications in relation to the heterogeneity of forms of universities and to condense the insights typologically. We lay the focus on the concrete action and the organizational structures and the changes of role models in dependence to the organizational becoming of university communications. In the backdrop there are the following questions: How are concrete actions and organizational structures intertwined in the professional field of university communications? If we understand the relevant actor-structure-dynamics, we will be able to analyze the output, perhaps also to evaluate the internal as well as external impact of university communications.

The project serves as a pilot as it does not only construct a typology, but also identify relevant problems for further systematic analysis in this field. This project connects studies of university communications with the field of sociological organization research in an interdisciplinary way. Moreover, it focuses highly important questions for the professional field. The insights of the pilot as well as further studies will allow to give advice not only for organizing university communications more effectively but also for improving the education of the communicators themselves.


PD Dr. phil. Dipl.-Ing. Stefan Böschen
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)
Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS)
P.O. Box 3640
76021 Karlsruhe