Assessing the applicability of integrated communications : towards a systemic approach
This thesis tackles the problem of how communication functions can be integrated and made more effective in organisations. The research surfaces the main issues affecting the quality of integrated communications and -develops a new Integrated Communications Model (ICM) for assessing the applicability of Integrated Communications (IC) - using a systemic approach. The process of this research includes: identifying a range of aspects which may impact on the success of integrated communications; explaining how total quality management, systems thinking and pluralist approaches can help to make integrated communications more successful; surfacing the issues of integrated communications in Taiwan; developing a systemic approach- ICM for assessing the applicability of integrated communications; and generating recommendations for relevant modifications which can make IC more effective. This research proceeds in three interrelated phases: qualitative first, quantitative next, and qualitative again. In the first phase, an initial list of the aspects for integrated communications success is generated through a review of the literature. Moreover, some of the modem management approaches such as TQM, systems thinking and pluralist approaches are examined to see how they could enhance integrated communications in organisations. In the second phase, a questionnaire is developed to discover the current situation of IC in Taiwanese companies. The questionnaire is sent to eighty top manufacturing and service companies in Taiwan and produces thirty-eight usable responses. The SPSS package is employed to analyse the data. In the same phase, a qualitative approach that includes interviews with several managers from five different companies is conducted to find the issues of IC in Taiwanese companies from June 1998 to November 1998. Lastly, three companies are selected for the case studies to validate the research findings, to assist in the interpretation of the results and to develop a new model of IC. The six aspects of IC believed to impact upon integrated communications success are extracted. Moreover, this research presents a revised Integrated Communications Model (ICM) to review, operationalise and evaluate the integrated communications approach, especially as related to the Taiwan context. This ICM can help to tackle the three main issues of IC identified in the research: how to help organisations to set up effective communications; how to help organisations to identify their specific stakeholders; and how to help organisations to evaluate the effectiveness of their communications with their specific stakeholders. The research findings are discussed and suggestions for further research are also proposed.