Article published in:Strategic Communication: Beyond nation cultural adaption, images and identity
Edited by Hassan Abu Bakar and Bahtiar Bin Mohamad
[Journal of Asian Pacific Communication 28:1] 2018
► pp. 41–60
Managing diversity in higher education
A strategic communication approach
Situated in the first stage of Lewin’s Change Management Model (Lewin, 1947), this study examined the strategic communication plan needed to enable Higher Educational Institutions (HEIs) to embrace learner diversity via diversity engagement. Participants were 56 academics from 14 public and two private universities in Malaysia who attended the Learner Diversity training module at the Higher Education Leadership Academy (AKEPT) between the periods from 2014 to 2015. During the training sessions, participants were asked to diagnose the existing communication strategies of their respective universities that concerned learner diversity, and to suggest ways to fulfill the mission of driving diversity in their respective universities. Each participant wrote three series of reflective writings and these created a total database of 168 reflective notes. The data were analyzed using the six phases of thematic analysis proposed by Braun and Clarke (2006). The findings have identified three main themes for a strategic communication planning approach: (1) re-examining the institutional mission statement on inclusive diversity practices, (2) changing the mindset of academe, and (3) starting with small steps when introducing change in embracing learner diversity. This study served as one of the baseline studies conducted at the national level to comprehend the potential of a strategic communication planning process in HEIs from the perspectives of employees.
Keywords: change, diversity, strategic communication, HEI
Published online: 19 January 2018
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