collaboration with aalborg airport
COLLABORATION WITH AALBORG AIRPORT
One of Aalborg’s large workplaces, Aalborg Airport, has collaborated with three researchers from the former Department of Culture and Global Studies (now the Department of Culture and Learning) concerning internal communication in the organisation. Here, you can read more about the focus of the collaboration, the contents and the results.
THE FOCUS OF THE COLLABORATION
In 2013, researchers from the Department of Culture and Global Studies initiated a research project with Aalborg Airport. The project focused on the internal communication of a company in rapid growth.
When the collaboration began, the airport had recently experienced a period of rapid growth that had resulted in an increase in the number of employees and thus an increased distance between management and staff. The airport management felt that the increased distance challenged the close and personal communication, which had previously been possible, and therefore they wanted to examine how their internal communication worked and what needed attention when the organisation changed.
The purpose of the study was thus to establish an overview of the efficiency of the management’s communication practices:
- In terms of information, what, and how much, reached the staff?
- How did the staff receive the different messages?
- To what extent were staff included (e.g. through dialogue) in decisions that affected their everyday lives?
- How did their inclusion affect their reception of the different messages?
THE STUDY DESIGN
This mainly qualitative study consisted of observations of executive board meetings and departmental meetings, staff surveys and focus group interviews with the employees of the individual departments. In other words, the airport’s participation in the project opened the doors to meetings, allowed access to communication platforms and documents and made the employees available for questions and interviews.
While the study was ongoing, the researchers frequently met with the airport management to update the process and the preliminary results. The collaboration concluded with a report stating the essential results, which were also presented at a meeting with management.
THE RESULTS OF THE STUDY
The study showed that there was a general high degree of employee satisfaction in the organisation. The staff felt well informed, but there was also a feeling that the distance to top management had increased. This was partly due to the introduction of an IT-supported communication platform that only allowed limited interaction with the employees. Moreover, top executives had less opportunity to get around and speak with the staff. As a result, personal contact, communication and interaction were increasingly left to department managers, who thus took on the major responsibility of communicating important messages and including the staff in relevant decision-making processes.