The University of Twente’s departments of Media, Communication and Organization (MCO) and Corporate and Marketing Communication (CMC) participate in the Communication Studies Master’s programme. These departments are responsible for the research themes that form part of the research programme entitled Communication in a Technological Environment.
Due to its interdisciplinary orientation and its focus on societal challenges and innovations, Communication Science at the University of Twente holds a special position. The starting point is that – to be truly innovative – systems, content and applications in both individual and organizational user contexts must be based on sound theoretical and decision-supporting communication research. To achieve this, the research programme draws from the multidisciplinary approach of the research institutes, thereby benefiting from contributions by experts in the fields of psychology, sociology, educational science, computer science and human resource management. The communication research programme turns this into the interdisciplinary approach that is a defining characteristic of communication science. The overall approach can be summed up as a “communication perspective on technology”.
This perspective, particularly with regard to information and communication technology, is crystallized in three innovative viewpoints that sum up Communication Research at the University of Twente:
User, consumer, citizen and employee perspectives
All communication researchers in the programme focus either on the users of media, the consumers of products and services or the internal and external stakeholders of organizations (employees and customers or members). The practical relevance of this research is that it contributes to the accessibility and usability of media and other communication applications for individuals; to the sustainability of organizations where the orientation is shifting from the supply-side (traditional, technical, managerial and efficiency issues) to the demand-side (social, employee and consumer issues); and, last but not least, to cohesive and sustainable societies.
A design perspective
This is a specific communication approach that favours continuous interaction between technical and social design, rather than a technical approach to design that requires a post-production communication campaign to ensure sales. The first characteristic of the design methodology is an orientation on the iterative phase of design processes. The second characteristic is the use of scientific theories and insights. Design requires full knowledge of the research results in a particular area. The third characteristic is the use of applied communication research techniques.
Network perspective on communication research
Social and media networks are weaving an expanding web of connections between individuals, organizations and society at large. The network perspective has consequences for communication research, not only by underlining the importance of network analysis, but also by shifting the focus towards relationships and environments (social contexts). In this programme, the network perspective not only means structural analysis, but also the sense-making and communicative actions that constitute relationships within networks. This explains the programme’s special focus on social and psychological aspects of communication, such as decision making, trust, empathy, identification, compliance and experience of physical environments.