What is it about?

How do communications professionals use data? This article explains the different types of forces that affect communication professionals when using data to guide their digital communications. Neo-institutional theory was applied to explain how these forces work. The authors interviewed 15 Australian communication practitioners to find out their views and challenges when working with data. Here are some of the key points: - Three types of forces influence data-driven communications: coercive, normative and mimetic. Coercive forces are laws and rules that force professionals to behave in a certain way. Normative forces are standards and values that tell professionals what is appropriate and ethical. Mimetic forces are shared views and methods that professionals copy from others they trust or admire. - Various challenges with data-driven communications, such as confusing privacy regulations, ethical concerns, lack of analytical skills, lack of resources, lack of integration, lack of standards and change management. - Communication professionals learn from conferences, seminars, workshops and professional networks, and work with data analysts and specialists to improve their data skills and knowledge. - Practitioners need to learn more about how analytics tools work and how they can affect their decisions. The article also suggests that managers need to balance the benefits and risks of using these tools.

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Why is it important?

The study explores how communication professionals use data to guide digital communications, which is a key skill in the modern world. It also identifies the challenges and opportunities that data-driven communications present, and suggests how professionals can overcome them. The research contributes to academic literature on neo-institutional theory and communication management, and provides practical implications for practitioners and scholars.


This article is original and valuable, as it applies neo-institutional theory to examine how institutional forces influence the use of data at the level of individual practitioners. It reveals how coercive, normative and mimetic forces affect the decision-making and behavior of communication professionals, and how analytics tools exert coercive pressures that could lead to misguided decisions.

Emmanuel Economou
Queensland University of Technology

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Between rules, norms and shared understandings: how institutional pressures shape the implementation of data-driven communications, Journal of Communication Management, February 2023, Emerald, DOI: 10.1108/jcom-01-2022-0009.
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