Internal communication education: A historical study

Welch, Mary (2015) Internal communication education: A historical study. Journal of Communication Management, 19 (4). pp. 388-405. ISSN 1363-254X

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This historical analysis investigates treatment of the important discipline of internal communication in a number of globally influential public relations education frameworks over time. Developing this insight is important since it has the potential to inform future professional development programmes.

The conceptual framework for the study is set via discussion of the historical approach, internal communication, professionalization and knowledge. The historical analysis research methodology is used to study data sources including professional body reports and archival documentation. Deductive and inductive coding is combined with template analysis to ensure rigorous qualitative data analysis.
The study finds inconsistent treatment of the internal communication discipline in public relations education frameworks over time. Distinct inclusion was found in early frameworks, clear recognition of the growing importance of internal communication was evident in later guidelines, but the study discovers that the discipline has been excluded from recent frameworks.
While the study draws on relevant data sources credited with international influence, it is limited to sources published in English.
Practical educational and methodological implications of the research are discussed along with avenues for further research including surveys or qualitative research to investigate contemporary views held by practitioners and educators on internal communication curricula.
Social and management implications are discussed including a call for the reinstatement of internal communication in globally influential public relations education frameworks.
The discipline of internal communication is still understudied which is surprising given its impact on organisational effectiveness. Furthermore, little previous attention has been paid to the history of internal communication education. This article tackles that void, finds inconsistent treatment of the discipline in education frameworks over time, and contributes discussion on why these inconsistencies have occurred.

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