Huddersfield project encourages international collaboration

The University of Huddersfield is combining resources with representatives from eight other universities worldwide to create a Capability Framework

The University of Huddersfield continues to be at the forefront of international research partnerships with institutions around the world, with the support of Global Alliance and the Cabinet Office.

Professor Anne Gregory is one of nine international partners embarking on a two-year research project studying the capabilities of public relations and communication professionals around the world.  Professor Gregory is joined by academics from Spain, Sweden, South Africa, Singapore, Australia, Canada, USA, and Argentina. 

The project is funded by a University Research Fund grant of £160,000 and has the support of the Global Alliance – the international association of communication professional bodies, the Cabinet Office and the national communication or PR directors of professional associations in each of the participating countries. Research will be carried out in each of the nine countries with each partner working closely with their professional associations. The research activity will take place in 2016-2017 and the results, which will be a global capability framework, will then be shared worldwide. 

One of the partners in this global research project, currently visiting the University of Huddersfield, is Professor Elena Gutiérrez-García from the Universidad de Navarra in Spain. Professor Gutiérrez-García works in the Faculty of Communication, the oldest communication school established in Spain in 1958. As the Director of the Master’s in Political and Corporate Communication, recognised as the the premier communication course in Spain, Professor Gutierrez-García teaches undergraduate and postgraduate students. 

Having met Professor Gregory at an international research conference four years ago a partnership was developed between the two institutions. Professor Gutiérrez-García is currently in Huddersfield on a prestigious scholarship from the Ministry of Education in Spain for three months which provides researchers with the opportunity to work with other institutions as part of an international research team. 

Professor Anne Gregory has worked with Professor Gutiérrez-García for the past three years and visits Spain each year as a visiting professor teaching on the Master’s in Corporate and Political Communication. 

As with other professions such as law, medicine and accounting; public relations and communication requires its own internationally recognised standards. By developing a Global Capability Framework this research will help to establish capability criteria for the profession.

The researchers recognise that as well as developing a framework which shares common core competencies, it is also necessary to adapt practice within each country according to local differences.

These differences include contrasting cultural and political environments with varying levels of decision making power depending on, for example, levels of bureaucracy and very diverse media landscapes, with a variety of attitudes towards transparency and accountability. Corporate communication also has different levels of resources available for continuing professional development with some countries having no academic programmes, or professional qualifications at all.

Following the comparison and analysis of the research findings the aim is to clearly define the core skills, knowledge and behaviours required to work in this profession, whilst taking into account the significant differences in the way it is practiced in different continents and countries.

The Global Capability Framework will be a benchmark against which national professional bodies and employers internationally can measure the capability of their professional communities.

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