Faculty Profile

Ansgar Zerfass

Adjunct Professor - Department of Communication and Culture

Biography

Ansgar Zerfass, born 1965, is Professor in Communication and Leadership (II) at BI Norwegian Business School in Oslo, Norway, since 2013. He is also Professor and Chair in  Strategic Communication at the Institute of Communication and Media Studies at the University of Leipzig, Germany. He teaches within the Master of Management program Communication for Leaders at BI and is involved in various research activities at the department.

Dr. Zerfass studied business administration and communication science at the University of Erlangen-Nueremberg, Bavaria, and graduated in management (Dipl.-Kfm.). He started his academic career as a research associate with Prof. Dr. Dr. h. c. mult. Horst Steinmann at the Chair of Strategic Management at the same university and gained a doctorate in business administration (Dr. rer. pol) summa cum laude. Afterwards, he worked in practice for 10 years in the fields of corporate communications and political consulting. During that time, he held an executive management position at MFG Baden-Württemberg, the center of excellence of the federal state for information technology and media. At the same time, he achieved a Habilitation (academic lecture qualification/second doctorate) in communication science at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg under the mentorship of Prof. Winfried Schulz.

Services: Currently, he acts as Editor of the International Journal of Strategic Communication (Routledge Publishers, USA), Past President of the EUPRERA European Public Relations Education and Research Association, Brussels, Academic Advisor of the Corporate Communication Cluster Vienna (CCCV), Vienna, Austria, Plank Scholar at the Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations at the University of Alabama, USA, Publisher of the multilingual knowledge portal communicationcontrolling.de, as well as Managing Director of the Academic Society for Corporate Management and Communication, which bundles the engagement of more than 35 global companies and various universities for knowledge transfer and research funding in the field of corporate communications. He is a member of ICA, ECREA, EUPRERA, DGPuK, DPRG, and EBEN/DNWE.

Dr. Zerfass has published 33 books and more than 300 journal articles, book chapters, and study reports papers in several languages so far. He runs a large number of empirical projects, for example as lead researcher of the annual European Communication Monitor, the largest transnational study on strategic communication in more than 40 countries (since 2007), as initiator of the Asia-Pacific Communication Monitor and as coordinator of the multi-year research program Value Creating Communication across several universities.

Publications
Please see Zerfass' profile page at Universität Leipzig.

Scientific awards
2016: Top Paper Award, EUPRERA Annual Conference, Groningen/Amsterdam
2016: Impact Award of the Journal of Communication Management / CCI Conference, New York
2016: Top Paper Award, International Public Relations Research Conference, USA
2016: Koichi Yamamura International Strategic Communication Award, IPRRC
2015: Jackson Jackson & Wagner Award, PRSA Foundation, Atlanta
2014: Pathfinder Award, Institute for Public Relations, New York
2014: Top Paper Award, EUPRERA Annual Conference, Brussels
2014: Koichi Yamamura International Strategic Communication Award, IPRRC
2013: Top Paper Award, International Public Relations Research Conference, USA
2013: Jackson Sharpe Award, Institute for Public Relations, USA
2012: Top Paper Award, EUPRERA Annual Conference, Istanbul
2012: Top Paper Award, International Public Relations Research Conference, USA
2011: Jackson-Sharpe Award, Institute for Public Relations, USA
1997: Ludwig-Schunk-Prize for Economic Science, University of Giessen
1995: Albert-Oeckl-Prize, German Public Relations Society (DPRG), Bonn
1995: PhD Award, University of Erlangen-Nueremberg
1989: Award of the Hermann-Weiler-Foundation, Nuremberg

Awards for communication campaigns
2010: PR Report Award "Innovative PR-Strategy"
2009: Federal Award for University Communication, BMBF/HINB
2005: German Multimedia Award
2000: German Public Relations Award (Deutscher PR-Preis)

Personal Awards
2010: Most innovative PR Researcher in Germany (newsaktuell/dpa)
2005: "PR head of the year" of the year in Germany (DPRG)

Awards for theses
Several advisees of Dr. Zerfass have received awards for their graduate theses in Germany or Europe: 
2016: Master Thesis Award, EUPRERA (best graduate thesis in Europe)
2016: Best Student Paper Award, IPRRC 2016, Miami
2015: Master Thesis Award, EUPRERA (best graduate thesis in Europe)
2012: Albert Oeckl Award, German Public Relations Association (DPRG)
2012: Young Researcher Award, German Association of Press Spokespersons (BdP)
2011: Digital Communication Award (best graduate thesis on digital PR in Europe)
2010: Young Researcher Award, German Association of Press Spokespersons (BdP)
2010: Gold Award "Student of the Year", PR Report / PR Week Germany
2009: Young Researcher Award, German Association of Press Spokespersons (BdP)
2007: Young Researcher Award, German Association of Press Spokespersons (BdP)

Current research fields 
Corporate Communications, Communication of medium-sized companies, Non-Profit Communication, Financial Communication, PR-Research, Online Communication, Reputation/Brand/Trust, Communication Controlling/ Evaluation

Publications

Zerfass, Ansgar & Volk, Sophia Charlotte (2018)

How communication departments contribute to corporate success: The communications contributions framework

Journal of Communication Management, 22(4), s. 397- 415. Doi: 10.1108/JCOM-12-2017-0146

Nothhaft, Howard; Werder, Kelly Page, Verčič, Dejan & Zerfass, Ansgar (2018)

Strategic Communication: Reflections on an Elusive Concept

International Journal of Strategic Communication, 12(4), s. 352- 366. Doi: 10.1080/1553118X.2018.1492412

The article explores how strategic communication successfully established itself as an academic discipline despite (or perhaps because of) being centered on an elusive concept. Drawing on ideas about the evolution of academic disciplines proposed by Alexander M. Shneider, we argue that strategic communication is currently caught in a cycle of constant reinvention obscured by a discourse of emergence. Although the discipline is undoubtedly becoming more sophisticated, it is doubtful whether there is genuine progress. The authors examine facets of strategic communication that contribute to the current state of affairs. Although clearer conceptualization and a more realistic understanding of the discipline are identified as a prerequisite for maturation, progress—as opposed to sophistication—ultimately depends on the development of discipline-specific, unique, and robust methods.

Zerfass, Ansgar; Verčič, Dejan, Nothhaft, Howard & Werder, Kelly Page (2018)

Strategic Communication: Defining the Field and its Contribution to Research and Practice

International Journal of Strategic Communication, 12(4), s. 487- 505. Doi: 10.1080/1553118X.2018.1493485

This article draws on a decade of research in strategic communication and especially on the contributions in this special issue to propose a new and more comprehensive definition of strategic communication. We argue that strategic communication encompasses all communication that is substantial for the survival and sustained success of an entity. Specifically, strategic communication is the purposeful use of communication by an entity to engage in conversations of strategic significance to its goals. Entity includes all kind of organizations (e.g., corporations, governments, or nonprofits), as well as social movements and known individuals in the public sphere. Communication can play a distinctive role for the formulation, revision, presentation, execution, implementation, and operationalization of strategies. While there are many ways to investigate these research objects, strategic communication as a discipline takes the perspective of the focal organization/entity and its calculus to achieve specific goals by means of communication under conditions of limited resources and uncertainty. The article takes a critical look at the current state of the field and outlines several requirements that will help scholars and practitioners alike to build a unique body of knowledge in strategic communication.

Werder, Kelly Page; Nothhaft, Howard, Verčič, Dejan & Zerfass, Ansgar (2018)

Strategic Communication as an Emerging Interdisciplinary Paradigm

International Journal of Strategic Communication, 12(4), s. 333- 351. Doi: 10.1080/1553118X.2018.1494181

This study explores future directions in strategic communication scholarship by examining the emergence of strategic communication through the lens of interdisciplinary science. The disciplinary status of strategic communication is described through a content analysis of manuscripts published in the International Journal of Strategic Communication since its inaugural issue in 2007 (N = 207). Results reveal positive trends in research productivity, authorship, and globalization of the discipline over an 11-year period. However, analysis of the methodological and theoretical attributes of strategic communication scholarship suggests that more interdisciplinary research is needed. This study proposes definitional refinements that may strengthen the consistency of purpose among strategic communication scholars for future research and theory building. In addition, this study proposes that scholars embrace an interdisciplinary worldview to further the development of strategic communication as a unique and innovative domain of study in the future.

Volk, Sophia Charlotte & Zerfass, Ansgar (2018)

Alignment: Explicating a Key Concept in Strategic Communication

International Journal of Strategic Communication, 12(4), s. 433- 451. Doi: 10.1080/1553118X.2018.1452742

This article seeks to build a better understanding of the concept of alignment, which has been acknowledged as a central aspect of strategic communication, but never explicitly defined. Building upon a comprehensive literature review and systematization of concepts at the nexus of strategic communication and management research, a working definition and an integrative conceptual framework of alignment of strategic communication are suggested. The new definition describes alignment of strategic communication both as an outcome and an ongoing process and introduces a distinction between primary and secondary alignment. The new framework combines the multiple perspectives and types of alignment discussed so far, differentiating between external and internal alignment, intrafunctional and cross-functional alignment, management–strategy–activities alignment and process–structure–culture–people alignment. Six avenues for future conceptual, empirical, and critical research are pointed out to provide inspiration for strategic communication scholars to carry forward research of the alignment concept.

Wolf, Cornelia & Zerfass, Ansgar (2017)

Mobile Corporate Communication – Potentials and Contemporary Practices

Duhe, Sandra (red.). New media and public relations, 3rd edition

Zerfass, Ansgar & Macnamara, Jim (2017)

Evaluation stasis continues in PR and corporate communication: Asia Pacific insights into causes.

Communication Research and Practice, 3(4), s. 319- 334. - Fulltekst i vitenarkiv

Zerfass, Ansgar; Bentele, Günter, Schwalbach, Joachim & Sherzada, Muschda (2017)

Unternehmenskommunikation aus der Perspektive von Top-Managern und Kommunikatoren: Ein Vergleich

Hoffjann, Olaf & Seidenglanz, Rene A. (red.). Allmächtige PR, ohnmächtige PR: Die doppelte Vertrauenskrise der PR

Winkler, Luisa; Volk, Sophia Charlotte, Borner, Maria & Zerfass, Ansgar (2017)

Zwischen Intention und Emergenz: Mittelstandskommunikation im Spannungsfeld kontroverser Strategieparadigmen

Wehmeier, Stefan & Schoeneborn, Dennis (red.). Strategische Kommunikation im Spannungsfeld zwischen Intention und Emergenz

Tench, Ralph; Verčič, Dejan, Zerfass, Ansgar, Moreno, Angeles & Verhoeven, Piet (2017)

Communication Excellence - How to Develop, Manage and Lead Exceptional Communications

Palgrave Macmillan.

Zerfass, Ansgar; Verčič, Dejan & Volk, Sophia Charlotte (2017)

Communication evaluation and measurement. Skills, practices and utilization in European organizations

Corporate Communications. An International Journal, 22(1), s. 2- 18. Doi: 10.1108/CCIJ-08-2016-0056 - Fulltekst i vitenarkiv

Wiesenberg, Markus; Zerfass, Ansgar & Moreno, Angeles (2017)

Big Data and Automation in Strategic Communication

International Journal of Strategic Communication, 11(2), s. 95- 114. Doi: 10.1080/1553118X.2017.1285770

Zerfass, Ansgar; Verhoeven, Piet, Moreno, Angeles, Tench, Ralph & Verčič, Dejan (2016)

European Communication Monitor 2016. Exploring trends in big data, stakeholder engagement and strategic communication. Results of a Survey in 43 Countries.

Quadriga Media Berlin.

Zerfass, Ansgar & Viertmann, Christine (2016)

Multiple voices in corporations and the challenge for strategic communication

Alm, Kristian; Brown, Richard Mark & Røyseng, Sigrid (red.). Kommunikasjon og ytringsfrihet i organisasjoner

Zerfass, Ansgar & Winkler, Luisa (2016)

Corporate communication in SMEs. Unveiling an ignored field of practice

Brønn, Peggy Simcic; Romenti, Stefania & Zerfass, Ansgar (red.). The Management Game of Communication

Zerfass, Ansgar & Wiesenberg, Markus (2016)

Communicating the leadership status of organisations. A cross-national study in 10 European countries

Brønn, Peggy Simcic; Romenti, Stefania & Zerfass, Ansgar (red.). The Management Game of Communication

Krebber, Felix; Biederstaedt, Christian & Zerfass, Ansgar (2016)

Online campaigning and offline lobbying: Public Affairs Strategies of Greenpeace Germany

Oliveira, Evandro; Melo, Ana & Goncalves, Gisela (red.). Strategic communication in non-profit organisations: Challenges and alternative approaches

Zerfass, Ansgar; Verčič, Dejan & Wiesenberg, Markus (2016)

The dawn of a new golden age for media relations?: How PR professionals interact with the mass media and use new collaboration practices

Public Relations Review, 42(4), s. 499- 508. Doi: 10.1016/j.pubrev.2016.03.005

Zerfass, Ansgar; Verčič, Dejan & Wiesenberg, Markus (2016)

Managing CEO communication and positioning: A cross-national study among corporate communication leaders

Journal of Communication Management, 20(1), s. 37- 55. Doi: 10.1108/JCOM-11-2014-0066

Falkheimer, Jesper; Heide, Mats, Simonsson, Charlotte, Zerfass, Ansgar & Verhoeven, Piet (2016)

Doing the right things or doing things right?: Paradoxes and Swedish communication professionals’ roles and challenges

Corporate Communications. An International Journal, 21(2), s. 142- 159. Doi: 10.1108/CCIJ-06-2015-0037

Brønn, Peggy Simcic; Romenti, Stefania & Zerfass, Ansgar (2016)

The Management Game of Communication

Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

Zerfass, Ansgar & Pleil, Thomas (2015)

Handbuch Online-PR. Strategische Kommunikation in Internet und Social Web, 2. überarbeitete und erweiterte Auflage [Handbook online public relations. Strategic communication on the internet and social web. 2nd, revised and enlarged edition]

UVK Verlagsgesellschaft.

Moreno, Angeles; Navarro, Cristina, Tench, Ralph & Zerfass, Ansgar (2015)

Does social media usage matter? An analysis of online practices and digital media perceptions of communication practitioners in Europe.

Public Relations Review, 41(2), s. 242- 253. Doi: 10.1016/j.pubrev.2014.12.006

Oliveira, Evandro; Linke, Anne, Kunsch, Margarida Krohling & Zerfass, Ansgar (2015)

How global is the web 2.0 hype? A comparison of social media communication in Brazil, Germany and Portugal

Catellani, Andrea; Zerfass, Ansgar & Tench, Ralph (red.). Communication Ethics in a Connected World

Kiesenbauer, Juliane; Burkert, Augustine & Zerfass, Ansgar (2015)

Mentoring in Public Relations: An International Study on Mentoring Programmes of Professional Associations

Catellani, Andrea; Zerfass, Ansgar & Tench, Ralph (red.). Communication Ethics in a Connected World

Kiesenbauer, Juliane & Zerfass, Ansgar (2015)

Today’s and tomorrow’s challenges in public relations: Comparing the views of chief communication officers and next generation leaders

Public Relations Review, 41(4), s. 422- 434. Doi: 10.1016/j.pubrev.2015.05.013

Verčič, Dejan; Zerfass, Ansgar & Wiesenberg, Markus (2015)

Global public relations and communication management: A European perspective

Public Relations Review, 41(5), s. 785- 793. Doi: 10.1016/j.pubrev.2015.06.017

Zerfass, Ansgar & Sherzada, Muschda (2015)

Corporate communications from the CEO’s perspective: How top executives conceptualize and value strategic communication

Corporate Communications. An International Journal, 20(3), s. 291- 309. Doi: 10.1108/CCIJ-04-2014-0020

Catellani, Andrea; Zerfass, Ansgar & Tench, Ralph (2015)

Communication Ethics in a Connected World

Peter Lang Publishing Group.

Holtzhausen, Derina R. & Zerfass, Ansgar (2014)

The Routledge handbook of strategic communication

Routledge.

Vercic, Dejan; Verhoeven, Piet & Zerfass, Ansgar (2014)

Key issues of public relations of Europe: Findings from the European Communication Monitor 2007-2014 (Temas clave de las relaciones públicas en Europa: Resultados del European Communication Monitor 2007-2014)

Revista Internacional de Relaciones Públicas, 4(8), s. 5- 26.

Holtzhausen, Derina R. & Zerfass, Ansgar (2014)

Strategic Communication: Opportunities and Challenges of the Research Area

Holtzhausen, Derina R. & Zerfass, Ansgar (red.). Routledge Handbook of Strategic Communication

Holtzhausen, Derina R. & Zerfass, Ansgar (2014)

Routledge Handbook of Strategic Communication

Routledge.

Zerfass, Ansgar; Röttger, Ulrike & Stahl, Janne (2014)

Leadership in Communication Management: Enduring and Emerging Challenges in Germany, Austria and Switzerland

Berger, Bruce & Meng, Juan (red.). Public Relations Leaders as Sensemakers: A global study of leadership in public relations and communication management

Zerfass, Ansgar; Linke, Anne & Röttger, Ulrike (2014)

Key Issues in the Field: The Context for Leadership

Berger, Bruce & Meng, Juan (red.). Public Relations Leaders as Sensemakers: A global study of leadership in public relations and communication management

Moreno, Angeles; Verhoeven, Piet, Tench, Ralph & Zerfass, Ansgar (2014)

Increasing power and taking a lead - What are practitioners really doing? Empirical evidence from European communications managers (Incrementar el poder y asumir el liderazgo - ¿Qué hacen realmente los profesionales? Evidencias empíricas sobre los gestores de comunicación en Europa)

Revista Internacional de Relaciones Públicas, 4(7), s. 73- 94.

Zerfass, Ansgar & Schramm, Dana Melanie (2014)

Social Media Newsrooms in Public Relations. A conceptual framework and corporate practices in three countries

Public Relations Review, 40(1), s. 79- 91. Doi: 10.1016/j.pubrev.2013.12.003

Zerfass, Ansgar; Schwalbach, Joachim, Bentele, Günter & Sherzada, Muschda (2014)

Corporate Communications from the Top and from the Center: Comparing Experiences and Expectations of CEOs and Communicators

International Journal of Strategic Communication, 8(2), s. 61- 78. Doi: 10.1080/1553118X.2013.879146

Zerfass, Ansgar; Rademacher, Lars & Wehmeier, Stefan (2013)

Organisationskommunikation und Public Relations: Forschungsparadigmen und neue Perspektiven

Springer.

Holtzhausen, Derina R. & Zerfass, Ansgar (2013)

Strategic communication: Pillars and perspectives of an alternative paradigm

Sriramesh, Krishnamurthy; Zerfass, Ansgar & Jeong-Nam, Kim (red.). Public relations and communication management: current trends and emerging topics

Sriramesh, Krishnamurthy; Zerfass, Ansgar & Jeong-Nam, Kim (2013)

Public relations and communication management: current trends and emerging topics

Routledge.

Zerfass, Ansgar & Franke, Neele (2013)

Enabling, Advising, Supporting, Executing: A Theoretical Framework for Internal Communication Consulting Within Organizations

International Journal of Strategic Communication, 7(2), s. 118- 135. Doi: 10.1080/1553118X.2013.765438

This article analyzes the consulting and enabling function within the role set of communication managers and provides an initial theoretical framework for internal communication consulting in organizations. The idea of communication professionals as consultants has already been introduced by a number of researchers. Nevertheless, the necessity of this task as well as the specific dimensions and practices of internal communication consulting have not been elaborated until now. This article takes an initial step towards closing this gap by developing a new framework. After a short introduction, the necessity of the consulting function will be emphasized by introducing the concept of the communicative organization. In order to fulfill this requirement, communicative competencies in a much broader sense have to be developed. This leads to a new challenge for communication professionals: they are asked to advise organizational members and to enable them to resolve communication-related issues as well as task-related issues. Based on a research review, a framework for internal communication consulting has been constructed by combining the dimensions of consulting forms and objectives. Qualitative interviews with communication executives have been conducted to verify the plausibility of this framework. The article closes by outlining implications for research, education, and practice.

Zerfass, Ansgar & Müller, Maren Christin (2013)

Stakeholderbeziehungen in der CSR-Kommunikation. Empirische Studie zu Strategien und Rahmenbedingungen in deutschen Unternehmen

UmweltWirtschaftsForum, 20(1), s. 51- 57. Doi: 10.1007/s00550-013-0267-2

Nothhaft, Howard; Werder, Kelly Page, Verčič, Dejan & Zerfass, Ansgar (1)

Editors' Introduction

International Journal of Strategic Communication [Kronikk]

Zerfass, Ansgar; Moreno, Angeles, Tench, Ralph, Verčič, Dejan & Verhoeven, Piet (2017)

European Communication Monitor 2017. How strategic communication deals with the challenges of visualisation, social bots and hypermodernity. Results of a survey in 50 Countries.

[Scientific book]. Quadriga Media Berlin.

Zerfass, Ansgar; Vercic, Dejan, Verhoeven, Piet, Moreno, Angeles & Tench, Ralph (2015)

European Communication Monitor 2015. Creating communication value through listening, messaging and measurement. Results of a Survey in 41 Countries.

[Scientific book]. EACD/EUPRERA, Helios Media.

Zerfass, Ansgar; Tench, Ralph, Vercic, Dejan, Verhoeven, Piet & Moreno, Angeles (2014)

European Communication Monitor 2014. Excellence in Strategic Communication – Key Issues, Leadership, Gender and Mobile Media. Results of a Survey in 42 Countries

[Scientific book]. Helios Media.

Zerfass, Ansgar & Kiesenbauer, Juliane (2014)

Strategen, Visionäre und Netzwerker der Unternehmenskommunikation. Kommunikationschefs und Protagonisten der nächsten Generation in Nahaufnahme

[Popular scientific book]. Monsenstein + Vannerdat.

Zerfass, Ansgar & Sherzada, Muschda (2014)

Corporate communications from the CEO’s perspective: How top executives conceptualize and value strategic communication

[Academic lecture]. International Public Relations Research Conference 2014.

Zerfass, Ansgar & Schramm, Dana Melanie (2013)

Social Media Newsrooms in Public Relations: Developing a conceptual framework and researching corporate practices in the United States, the United Kingdom and Germany

[Academic lecture]. International Public Relations Research Conference 2013.

Zerfass, Ansgar & Koehler, Kristin (2013)

International Strategic Communication with Investors on the Web – A Global Benchmark Study of Financial Communications in the US, UK, France, Germany and Japan

[Academic lecture]. International Public Relations Research Conference 2013.

Zerfass, Ansgar; Schwalbach, Joachim, Bentele, Günter & Sherzada, Muschda (2013)

Corporate Communications from the Top and from the Centre: Comparing Experiences and Expectations of CEOs and Communicators

[Academic lecture]. EUPRERA Annual Congress 2013.

Zerfass, Ansgar; Moreno, Angeles, Tench, Ralph, Vercic, Dejan & Verhoeven, Piet (2013)

European Communication Monitor 2013. A Changing Landscape - Managing Crises, Digital Communication and CEO Positioning in Europe. Results of a Survey in 43 Countries

[Scientific book]. EACD/EUPRERA, Helios Media.

Vercic, Dejan; Moreno, Angeles & Zerfass, Ansgar (2013)

Communicative Assets

[Popular scientific article]. Communication Director, 9(3), s. 22- 27.

Academic Degrees
Year Academic Department Degree
2006 University of Erlangen-Nuremberg Ph.D.
1996 University of Erlangen-Nuremberg - Dr. rer. pol. PhD
1990 University of Erlangen-Nuremberg - Dipl.-Kfm. (Univ.) Other
Work Experience
Year Employer Job Title
2013 - Present BI Norwegian Business School Adjunct professor
2006 - Present University of Leipzig Professor