The Department of Business Communication consigned to history from the new year

After an eighteen-month long tug of war between the dean, students and employees, the future of the Department of Business Communication has finally fallen into place. Last Wednesday, AU's board took the final decision that from the new year the department will become a section under the Department of Management.

[Translate to English:] Institut for Erhvervskommunikation er fortid i det nye år. Erhvervssprogene rykker til Arts, og den resterende del af instituttet, der beskæftiger sig med virksomhedskommunikation, bliver en del af Institut for Virksomhedsledelse. Foto: Melissa Yildirim og Maria Randima
[Translate to English:] Thomas Pallesen, dekan på Aarhus BSS, glæder sig over, at bestyrelsen har fulgt hans indstilling om at lægge Institut for Erhvervskommunikation ind under Institut for Virksomhedsledelse. Foto: Anders Trærup

When students and employees at the Department of Business Communication return after the Christmas holidays, it will be at a completely different department. From the turn of the year, the Department of Business Communication will no longer exist as a department, but will instead become a section under the Department of Management. This was adopted by AU’s board at a meeting on Wednesday.

Dean pleased with the result

"The board agreed to follow the recommendation to merge the two departments and I can only be pleased about that. This time there was also a more united faculty behind the recommendation, and I'm pleased that we’ve found a model which, within the framework of the Department of Management, addresses some of the wishes that employees from the Department of Business Communication have brought up," says Thomas Pallesen, dean of BSS, where the departments belong.

The dean is talking about the fact that employees and students at the Department of Business Communication did not initially favour his plan to place their department under the Department of Management. They would rather see the department retain an independent status. But after long negotiations, the parties agreed on a number of conditions for the merger that made it easier for employees and students to accept the plan.

A brief history

In June, AU's board adopted the plan proposed by the deans of Arts and BSS to transfer the business language programmes from the Department of Business Communication at BSS to the language study programmes at Arts.

Dean Thomas Pallesen from BSS also wished to simultaneously transfer the department's remaining employees at the Section for Corporate Communication to the Department of Management. As a consequence of this, the Department of Business Communication would cease to exist as an independent department.

The Section for Corporate Communication and the students' degree programme council, the Communication Council, argued in letters to the board that the department should be maintained. The board chose to postpone the decision about the future of the section.

The dean then asked the employees to list their wishes for how the section could be organised as a section under the Department of Management. To remain an independent department was not a good solution in the opinion of the dean.

On the basis of employee wishes and input from the degree programme council, Thomas Pallesen, together with the department heads at the Department of Business Communication and the Department of Management, negotiated the terms and conditions which would be applicable to the section if the board adopted the plan to transfer the section to the Department of Management.

On Wednesday, the board approved the proposal. This means the following will take place with the Section for Corporate Communication from the turn of the year:

  • Status as section with its own section manager at the Department of Management physically located at Fuglesangs Allé in connection with the faculty's relocation in spring/summer 2017.

  • Own board of studies with its own chair of the board of studies.

  • Own director of studies with responsibility for the development of the study programmes and staffing of the subjects in close cooperation with the section manager.

  • The section keeps its employer panel, and the Dean's Office will work to ensure that the section establishes its own body of external co-examiners as quickly as possible.

  • The Department of Management ensures continued support for the students' degree programme council, and also makes a room available.

  • Own PhD degree programme will continue for a trial period of three to five years, after which the scheme will be evaluated by the faculty management team.

  • An annual subsidy of DKK one million for a period of five years for the development of cooperation with the other sections at the department and external parties. See the final terms and conditions here.

A very long process

"It’s been a very long process, which began in July of last year. So it’s wonderful that we’ve made a decision and drawn a line in the sand. Now we can all move on with what is, after all, our main task; research and teaching," says the dean.

Even though employees and students from the current Department of Business Communication belong under a new department from New Year, they will not move physical location before the summer of 2017. This is when the BSS faculty begins a major relocation process, which consolidates the two BSS departments Management and Economics and Management at Fuglesangs Allé.

"Now we need to get started on carrying out the merger. Some things were readied as part of the work that formed the basis for the decision, but there is still a lot that needs to be specified in greater detail," says Pallesen.

No personnel consequences for the academic staff

The dean’s reply to the question of whether the merger will have consequences for the staff in the form of redundancies is that:

"There are no considerations of that kind for the academic staff. On the contrary. There is more than enough to do, so it's not on the cards."

Technical and administrative tasks under scrutiny

The situation is less reassuring for the technical and administrative staff. Pallesen says that the management team is in the process of looking at what the organisational changes will mean for the administrative tasks.

"Some of that work is of course departmental and we now have to look at what it means for BSS to now be six departments instead of seven. It may well be that there will be some minor adjustments in relation to this. I can’t say in advance that there definitely won’t be any," he says, adding:

"We’re always obliged to look at whether we have an organisation with an effective operation. There’s nothing new in that. We do that all the time. While we’re sitting here talking, there are meetings taking place in the local liaison committees at the Department of Business Communication and the Department of Business Management, as well as in the administrative centre. The plan was always for us to look at this if the merger became a reality."

The dean emphasises that the technical and administrative staff will be informed of any new tasks or areas as quickly as possible. However, because the Christmas holiday is just around the corner, he expects this to happen after the new year.

Translated by Peter Lambourne.