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Faculty of History and Arts

International Bachelor Communication and Media

Course Guide

Corporate Communication

Academic Year 2010/2011, Term 2

Dr. David R. Novak


Table of Contents

1. Practical Information p. 3
2. Overview Program p. 4
3. Course Orientation p. 5
4. Course organization, procedures, preferences, p. 6
5. Course Assignments and Grading p. 8
6. General Writing Rules for Assignments p. 9
7. Course Outline and Week-by-week descriptions p. 10
8. Appendix A – Summary and Discussion Questions p. 13

Practical Information

Course Title: Corporate Communication

Course Code: CM 2041

Instructor: Dr. David R. Novak


Office Hours:

Course Time and Location: Workgroup 1 – Wednesdays 9-1145 (G2-29);

Workgroup 2 – Fridays 9-1145 (G2-32).

For the latest timetable and location: see the overview of courses on

Compulsory Literature:

o Christensen, L. T., Morsing, M., & Cheney, G. (2010). Corporate

Communications: Convention, Complexity, and Critique.
Thousand Oaks, CA; Sage.

o Additional readings are available via Blackboard and the EUR


Period: Term 2

Credits: 5 ECTS

Forms of instruction: Seminar

Assessment: Individual Assignments, Group Assignment

Study load: Class 24 hrs

Readings/Study of literature 65 hrs
Assignments (2 x 3 hrs, 1 x 25 hrs, 1x 20) 51 hrs
Total 140 hrs

Overview Program

Week Date Topic(s) Readings/Assignments

1 Nov. 19 Introduction, Course Guide, Prologue Chapter 1
Course Introduction,
Corporate Communications
as a Field
2 Nov. 26 Scope of Corporate Chapter 2 & 3
Communications; Branding
& Identity
3 Dec. 3 Corporate Reputation & Chapter 4 & 5
Stakeholders; Rationality of
Corporate Communications
4 Dec. 10 Corporate Communications Chapter 6
as Control
5 Dec. 17 Review None
6 Jan. 7 Flexibility; Corporate Chapter 7, 8 & Epilogue
Communications as
7 Jan. 14 Topics in Corporate Literature Review Due
8 Jan. 21 Case Studies Presentations

Course Orientation

The purpose of this course is to provide you with a closer examination

of the field of corporate communications. Readings, discussions and
assignments will hopefully challenge you to think critically about diverse
perspectives on the field, its theories and practices. We will focus on a critical
perspective of corporate communications as well as understanding strategies
used to be effective corporate communicators. As you prepare for your
careers, this course will help you develop your critical thinking abilities,
writing skills and presentation skills as well as your knowledge about the field
of corporate communications.
We will explore various approaches to understanding corporate
communications and discuss how the role that these perspectives play in
organizational life today. We will investigate these issues by progressing
through a number of topics important to corporate communications (aspects
of the field, stakeholders, branding, identity, etc.).The history of this field,
and of its study, will be weaved throughout our discussions. You should feel
encouraged to enhance our discussions with questions, examples and case
studies. The course will attempt to place emphasis on classic, as well as
contemporary, successes and failures in the field of corporate
This class is not about reproducing a “right answer” but rather how to
construct an informed position on a range of topics. Informed positions
develop through careful reading of the course material, entering into
dialogue with classmates, and engaging in a critical thinking and writing

Course Objectives

1. gain a broad overview of the fields of corporate communications, their

interdependence and differences.
2. evaluate different organizational theories/theorists and compare their
underlying assumptions about corporate communications.
3. describe and analyze relevant communication processes that have
been studied (and are being studied) in organizations.
4. think critically about the political, social, and cultural aspects of
corporate communications.
5. consider how current issues such as technology, diversity, identity
impact corporate communications.
6. develop writing, critical thinking and presentation skills.

Course organization, procedures, preferences and musings

This course is structured as a seminar. A “seminar” means the
following: 1)I will not lecture during the course. 2) Students must come
prepared to discuss the material (having read the assigned readings, thought
about them, and brought the readings to class) and 3) Students should come
with questions about the course material. Our class time is an opportunity to
deepen your understanding of the material and complicate your thinking. I do
not view lectures as the time to discuss the material at its most basic level.
Reading prior to class is essential. Our class time will be centered on dialogue
about readings, not a reiteration of them. You should plan to spend 3-4 hours
outside of class time per week reading and thinking about the book chapters
and articles. I am interested in hearing your views on the many topics we will
be discussing, but your formulation of a coherent position will require a
knowledge of the material and a commitment to discussing that material in
class. Therefore, your participation must be grounded in consistent
preparation and attendance.

Use of Blackboard
Blackboard ( is used for communication (e-
mail and additional information before and during the course) and for
handing in assignments via the Safe Assignment option. Powerpoint slides
and other course materials may be available on Blackboard after class, if

Study load
The credits for this course are 5 ECTS which equals 140 hours. Since
each block lasts 9 weeks (8 weeks containing lectures/tutorials and 1 week
for assessment), students are expected to spend on average 14 hours per
week on this course (over 1.5 day!).

Class 24 hrs
Readings/Study of literature 65 hrs
Assignments (2 x 3 hrs, 1 x 25 hrs, 1x 20) 51 hrs
Total 140 hrs

Preferred Procedures

» For the IBCoM programme, attendance is compulsory for all tutorial

meetings, seminars, research workshops and practicals. In addition,
students are expected to attend all lectures as they provide the backbone
of the course. For this course, your attendance at all lectures is also

expected. We will cover a great deal of information each week in this course
and it will be easy to fall behind.

» All assignments should be turned in via the Assignments link on the course
Blackboard site. If errors occur with Blackboard, you should turn a hard copy
into my mailbox (located on L3). No emailed assignments will be accepted.
Assignments are due at or before the beginning of the lecture period.
Relatedly, uploading corrupted, damaged, incorrect, or incomplete files to
Blackboard will result in a minimum 10% late penalty. You should use caution
when you are uploading a file. If an error occurs when you are uploading an
assignment, you should notify me as soon as possible.

» Always ask for help. My job is to create an environment that is engaging

and challenging. I take that responsibility very seriously. I am here to help
you learn. I will do everything possible to make the class a valuable learning
experience. If you have ANY problems, please feel free to approach me and
we will discuss them. I firmly believe that this course, and any course, for
that matter, will be what you make it. I will offer my best effort to teach, to
stimulate discussion, to challenge you, and I expect the same effort in
return. I would encourage you to talk to me about the class, your papers, or if
you have any problems understanding the material. I will be glad to speak
with you about the class or the assignments. Please see me if I can be of any

Course Assignments and Grading

The course is graded on a scale from 0 to 100 points. At the end of the class,
your cumulative final points are divided by 10 to calculate the final grade. So,
for example 74 points results in a grade of 7.4. A final grade below 5.5 means
that the student fails the course. A final grade of 5.5 or higher means passing
the course. 6.0+ is satisfactory; 7.0+ is very satisfactory; 8.0+ is good; 9.0+
is excellent.

Assignments (Individual)

Summary and Discussion Questions (2 @ 10 points each)

See Appendix A for a detailed assignment sheet describing the

Summary and Discussion Questions assignments.

Literature Review (1 @ 50 points)

Assignment sheet for the Literature Review will be distributed during

the term.

Assignments (Group)

Case Study and Presentation (1 @ 30 points)

Assignment sheet for the Case Study will be distributed during the term.

General Writing Rules for Assignments

» The individual assignments are individual products. It is not allowed to use

work from other students. It is permitted, though, to discuss each other's
work. The lecture is a product of teamwork. It is not allowed to use work
from other teams. Self-plagiarizing is not allowed either meaning that
students are not allowed to submit their own work that was already
submitted in earlier IBCoM courses. All assignments must refer carefully to
the (scientific) sources used. Copying the ideas and results of other authors
(either word for word, or as a paraphrase) without explicit reference to the
source is considered to be plagiarism. The submission of electronic versions
of the assignments in Blackboard’s SAFE ASSIGNMENT is necessary to
facilitate (automatic) checks on plagiarism. It is your responsibility to
familiarise yourself thoroughly with the faculty’s policy on unfair practices,
fraud and plagiarism. More information on this policy can be found at Plagiarism is
reported to the Examination Board, which may decide to expel the student
from this course, or from the curriculum.

» Always make sure that you clearly state your name and your student
reference number on the title page of all assignments.

» Although you will not be assessed for your English proficiency, all
assignments should be carefully checked for spelling, grammar and

» Generally speaking, I prefer, and you should use Times New Roman 12
point font, 1-inch (2.5cm) margins on all sides, 1.5 spacing, page numbers,
title page, reference page, headings, etc.

Course outline and week-by-week description

Week 1 – Corporate Communications as a Field

Mandatory Readings
Christensen, L. T., Morsing, M., & Cheney, G. (2010). Corporate
Communications: Convention, Complexity, and Critique (Prologue &
Chapter 1).
» Students will understand the course, its rules, assignments and policies.
» Students will understand what comprises the field of Corporate
Week 2 – Scope of Corporate Communications/Branding and Identity
Mandatory Readings
Christensen, L. T., Morsing, M., & Cheney, G. (2010). Corporate
Communications: Convention, Complexity, and Critique (Chapters 2 &
» Students will understand the breadth of corporate communications.
» Students will understand corporate branding, identity, and related
Week 3 – Corporate Reputation & Stakeholders; Rationality of
Corporate Communications
Mandatory Readings
Christensen, L. T., Morsing, M., & Cheney, G. (2010). Corporate
Communications: Convention, Complexity, and Critique (Chapters 4 &
» Students will understand various organizational stakeholders and their
importance to corporate communications.

» Students will understand why organizations employ corporate

communications strategies, departments and resources.
Week 4 – Corporate Communications as Control
Mandatory Readings
Christensen, L. T., Morsing, M., & Cheney, G. (2010). Corporate
Communications: Convention, Complexity, and Critique (Chapter 6).
» Students will understand the role that discipline and disciplining takes in
corporate communications.
» Students will understand discipline at individual, organizational and social
Week 5 – Midterm Review
Mandatory Readings
» Students will reflect upon the corporate communications field as it has been
discussed in the class.
» Students will consider careers in corporate communications.
Week 6 – Flexibility; Corporate Communications as Flexible and
Mandatory Readings
Christensen, L. T., Morsing, M., & Cheney, G. (2010). Corporate
Communications: Convention, Complexity, and Critique (Chapters 7, 8
& Epilogue).
» Students will understand corporate flexibility as it relates to corporate
communications strategies.

» Students will understand polyphony from a theoretical and practical

perspective and understand the role that multiple messages/messengers play
in corporate communications.
Week 7 – Selected Topics in Corporate Communications
Mandatory Readings
Cheney, G. (1983). The rhetoric of identification and the study of
organizational communication. Quarterly Journal of Speech, 69, 143-
Eisenberg, E. M. (1984). Ambiguity as strategy in organizational
communication. Communication Monographs, 51, 227-242.
» Students will read seminal articles in identification and ambiguity.
» Students will contextualize the contemporary readings of the course in the
historical perspective provided by the week’s readings.
Literature Reviews Due
Week 8 – Student Presentations
Mandatory Readings
» Students will develop their presentation skills.
» Students will discuss the knowledge gained from the course material.

Appendix A – Summary and Discussion Questions

Twice during the term, you will need to provide a 1-page summary including at least 2
discussion questions. A sign-up sheet will be provided. Your summary of the readings should be
short and to the point. You should also write at least two strong discussion questions. Your
questions should aim to deepen the class’ understanding of the weekly material.
1-page. 1.5 spaced. 2.5cm margins. 12 pt Times New Roman font.