Christian Burgers has been appointed Professor of Communication and Organisations for the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences at the University of Amsterdam (UvA). How would he describe his chair? What is its social importance? What is he looking forward to most?
‘My chair, Communication and Organisations, focuses on communication by, within and about organisations. These organisations include public bodies like government authorities, commercial organisations like companies and non-profit organisations like charities.’
‘In this chair, I will focus specifically on the role these organisations play in social debate. How do they contribute to the perception of topics like energy transition, the social responsibility of organisations, diversity and new technology? How do they and other stakeholders - journalists, politicians, citizens and action groups, etc. - put issues like these on the map? Which methods and strategies do they use to be able to do this? Which other dynamics play a role too?'
Organisations play an important role in many social developments. They can drive innovation and, by doing this, play a pioneering role in social change. However, organisations are finding themselves subject to more and more social pressure too, it now being easier to bring criticism of them to the attention of a wider public. The interesting challenge for me will be to clarify the role played by communication in this field of tension and to raise it for discussion with colleagues, students and communication professionals.
‘I have a number of ambitions for my chair. First of all, I’m looking forward to developing new research areas on communication and organisations and also to exploring existing ones in greater depth with my colleagues in the Corporate Communication programme group.’
‘I’m particularly interested in figurative framing. This is the term used to describe an organisation’s or other stakeholder’s use of certain stylistic devices in its communication - a metaphor or irony, for example - to talk about complex social issues or to express a certain opinion. For example, an organisation can represent it's vision of the future with a roadmap, showing where it has come from, where it is now and where it is going. How do these kinds of communication choices determine the image formed in public debate?
I am also looking forward to making the chair more visible within the education offered as part of the Bachelor’s and Master’s Communication Science programmes, focusing particularly on theory and evidence-based work. How can we use academic theory and evidence to understand organisations’ communication better and improve it?’
Christian Burgers is currently a professor by special appointment of Strategic Communication (Logeion Chair) for the Amsterdam School of Communication Research (ASCoR) at the UvA and an associate professor for the Department of Communication Science at VU Amsterdam. In 2010, he defended his PhD thesis on the subject of Communication and Information Sciences at Radboud University Nijmegen. In 2016, he was a visiting researcher in the Department of Communication Studies at Chapman University (Orange, CA, USA). His appointment will take effect on 1 December 2021.