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How is standard formation taking place in the measurement and evaluation of communication? What processes are going on in terms of terminology, involvement of target groups, and support and enforcement of draft standards (through labels, certification, or public knowledge resources)? Are there commonalities? What favors and what hinders the enforcement of standards?
Participatory expert analysis: The authors were involved in four major standardization projects in recent years, the Barcelona Principles (AMEC 2010 and 2015), the Integrated Evaluation Framework (AMEC 2016), the Reference Framework for Communication Controlling (DPRG/ICV 2011), and the Evaluation Framework (UK GCS). Formative documents from different phases of the development processes are evaluated.
Documented Period: 2000-2018
In the measurement and evaluation of corporate communication, standards function like non-technical process rules. They are not static, but evolve in implementation and negotiation by a variety of actors and institutions, according to a basic assumption of the study. That is why it includes not only distinctive frames of reference and models, but also best practices in the evaluation.
The development of standards can be divided into the following steps:
All four models show their own distinct development paths:
Although the study deals - rather theoretically - with the formation and establishment of measurement and evaluation standards in communication, it also offers useful information on the topic to practitioners already active in the field. Compact insights into the emergence of four important current approaches can be helpful in re-evaluating and adjusting existing measurement concepts.
For those who are already involved in the topic or who want to deal with it in the longer term, an understanding of the mechanisms and processes of standard development might help them to assess new developments for their own practice and to justify decisions for or against them in a well-founded manner.
Newcomers to practical work with evaluation standards will probably need more detailed information on the content of the models described, which is not provided here.
November 2019: Alexander Buhmann, Jim Macnamara, Ansgar Zerfaß
More information on the survey: Reviewing the ‘march to standards’ in public relations