Aarhus, September 29, 2018 – EUPRERA, the Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA) and the International Communications Consultancy Organisation (ICCO) have awarded two master students for their excellent theses in strategic communication at the EUPRERA annual congress in Aarhus on September 29. The congress is known as the major gathering of scholars and professionals interested in advancing the profession of public relations and corporate communications on the continent, hosted this year by Aarhus University in Denmark.

Best thesis on value creation and lobbying regulation

Master Thesis Award for Excellence is an annual prize aimed to celebrate the PR academia and the role performed by European Higher Education Institutions in the evolution of knowledge of this field. The jury, headed by Alexander Buhmann, from BI Norwegian Business School in Norway, selected as winning theses in two categories:
Theoretical Impact Award – “Value Creation through Thought Leadership. Theoretical fundamentals and empirical framework” by Luisa Bißwanger. Tutor: Ansgar Zerfass, University of Leipzig, Germany.
Where CCOs actually succeed in assuming higher-level strategic roles within their organizations, they can be found to take up responsibility within important change and innovation processes, helping to shape the long-term development of their organizations by providing thought leadership. But what is thought leadership and how does the concept fit with established concepts in corporate communications? In her thesis, Luisa Bißwanger develops a focused theoretical argument on how thought leadership supports organizational success.
The jurors were convinced of three main strengths of the thesis: (1) the addressing of a highly current and relevant topic, (2) a both focused and ambitious theory chapter, and (3) a well-fitted empirical approach. By combining a communication management perspective with a specific focus on agenda setting, Luisa Bißwanger chooses a promising theoretical approach at the interface between management studies and communication studies. The jurors were impressed with the authors’ ambitions to develop her own conceptual model, based on an engaging and knowledgeable theoretical discussion of the relationship between thought leadership and communication value.
Overall, the jury congratulates Luisa Bißwanger to an ambitious thesis, that focuses on and discusses a highly interesting topic, suggests new theoretical pathways and, not least, makes some important suggestions in the direction of communication professionals that provide new arguments towards the value of communication for organizations.
Practical Impact Award – “Towards a Lobbying Regulation – A comparative study on the efforts to implement a lobby register in the Republic of Ireland and the Federal Republic of Germany” by Lisa Grimmeiss. Tutor: Tom Clonan, Dublin Institute of Technology, Ireland.
In her thesis, Lisa Grimmeiss explores why the efforts to implement a statutory register for lobbyists were successful in Ireland, whereas all attempts to introduce a mandatory regulation for lobbyists in Germany have failed so far. This question is addressed by looking at both structural and institutional factors as well as at actual policy networks of actors adjacent to the proposition of these lobbying registers.
The Jury has found that the very idea of transparency of lobbying is truly important and to understand the actual differences between the systems in different countries is highly relevant to our understanding of the lobbying practice in Europe. Furthermore, the Jury has not only found the methodological approach to be well-chosen and relevant but was impressed with the thesis’ clear structure as well as the very transparent attempted to apply its theoretical frameworks. Commenting on the empirical part, the jurors stressed that the project management appears to have been outstanding, that the initiative in securing an elite sample for the interviews is very impressive, and this was triangulated very sensibly with documentary analysis.
Overall, the jurors applaud Lisa Grimmeiss for an outstanding academic work that is both disciplined and creative and which findings contribute to the advancement of very current research interests within public relations research.