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From Distant Target Groups to Involved Stakeholders: Developing Dialogic School Communication

Mari-Liis Tikerperi
University of Tartu, Estonia

Abstract. Knowingly planned communication activities are an essential asset in the performance of organisations, including public schools. In this paper, the core premise is that communication management in general education schools is an important field which currently lacks scholarly attention as well as practical guidance for school management. 
Numerous communication management definitions and models have been proposed following different paradigms and perspectives. Still, they all have one aspect in common: the audience to whom the messages are directed. Some theorists suggest that communication does not exist without the recipient, and effectively planned communication should be based on their interests or, moreover, involving them for the institution’s success. Thus, it is crucial to map schools’ target groups and stakeholders to explain the nature of school communication in general.
In this qualitative study, in-depth interviews were conducted with 19 Estonian school principals to understand their views about the role various target groups and stakeholders have on public elementary and high school communication. By applying a targeted sampling strategy, the most diverse representation of participants was ensured based on the profiles of both schools and school leaders. During the interviews, a projective technique was used enabling the principals to schematically position school’s stakeholders in accordance to social circles, importance, and communication intensity.
The results showed that although the stakeholders of the schools are similar, the positioning of the stakeholders may differ even in between similar school types. School principals’ assessments of the intensity, importance, or quality of relationships depend on the school’s organisational culture, goals, current issues (e.g., school renovation), or sometimes the principal’s personal contacts. In addition, communication practices are influenced by the initiative and attitudes of external stakeholders towards the school.

Keywords: communication management, general education, school communication, school leadership, stakeholders, target groups

In: Human, Technologies and Quality of Education, 2023. Proceedings of Scientific Papers = Cilvēks, tehnoloģijas un izglītības kvalitāte, 2023. Rakstu krājums
Riga, University of Latvia, 2023. 796 p. Ed. L. Daniela
ISBN 978-9934-36-116-6