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Examining the Current Approaches to Postgraduate Teaching of
Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) in UK Universities
Purpose of the Paper – This paper is part of a wider study undertaken within a professional
doctorate in Marketing Education with the following aims: 1. To explore how IMC is
delivered in the context of Postgraduate Education in the UK and 2. To explore the
experiences of Postgraduate students studying IMC in the business school environment. The
Conference presentation will present the results of a study undertaken to address aim 2.
Theoretical background – Schultz (2004) stated that “Integrated Marketing
Communications is a strategic business process used to plan, develop, execute and evaluate
coordinated, measurable, persuasive brand communications programs over time with
consumers, customers, prospects, employees, associates and other targeted, relevant external
and internal audiences. The goal is to generate both short-term financial returns and build
long-term brand and shareholder value”. Two key issues appear to have been problematic in
the development of IMC - definition and theoretical foundations. The debate concerning
definitions of IMC still continues in academic circles and there is disagreement as to whether
IMC is in the domain of the marketing communications mix (Lee and Park 2007, Eastin and
Daugherty 2005, Grove Carlson and Dorsch 2007) or a more strategic organisation wide
activity (Kliatchko 2005; 2008, Kitchen 2005, Fill 2005, Schultz 2004). There have been
some studies in the field of IMC curriculum development (for example, Farrelly, Luxton and
Brace-Govan (2001), Kerr, Patti and Chein (2004), Patti (2005), Kerr, Schultz, Patti and
Ilchul (2008), and Kerr (2009)) yet it is an area that has been identified as requiring much
further research (Schultz and Patti 2009) particularly as the IMC theory, perspectives and
models continue to develop.
Design/Methodology/Approach - Secondary research is currently ongoing and includes
reviewing various sources such as textbooks and academic journal articles to theoretically
underpin the work and various forms of marketing communications materials (provided by
Universities) to inform the provision of IMC teaching. Primary research is also ongoing
within a qualitative methodology - one to one interviews and focus groups are the selected
methods to assist in gaining insight into the student experience. The Conference presentation
will focus on the results of interviews and a focus group with PG students studying IMC at a
particular business school. Limitations of the study are that it will, at this stage, only be
considering Postgraduate study in a UK University and the number of respondents is limited.
Findings - This research is currently ongoing and the results will be presented at the
Conference. The findings will detail the experiences of Postgraduate students studying IMC
including their understanding, experiences and perspectives of the subject matter.
Originality/Value/Contribution of Paper As can be seen by the extensive academic
literature on IMC there are many different issues within the IMC field – whether it be in the
definition, the constructs, measurement or organisational level. The Professional Doctorate
will seek to contribute to this discussion by responding to calls for more research on the IMC
curriculum i.e. an examination of what current marketing academics think is IMC based on
what they teach and what future leaders understand IMC to be. This part of the study will
identify good practice in IMC education both in terms of the IMC academic subject and the
student experience.
Eastin, M.S. and Daugherty, T. (2005) Past Current and Future Trends in Mass
Communication Research. In: New Approaches, Technologies and Styles, Kimmel, Alan J,
Oxford University Press, pp.23-41
Farrelly, F, Luxton, S, and Brace-Govan, J (2001) Critical issues to understanding IMC in the
future – An Academic and Practitioner Developed IMC Curriculum for the 21st Century,
Marketing Bulletin, 2001, 12, Article 2
Fill, C. (2005) Marketing Communications Engagement Strategies and Practice, Fourth
Edition, FT Prentice Hall
Grove S.J., Carlson L. and Dorsch M.J. (2007) Comparing the application of Integrated
Marketing Communication (IMC) in Magazine Ads across Product Type and Time, Journal
of Advertising, Volume 36, No1
Kerr, G. (2009) Apples, oranges and fruit salad: A Delphi study of the IMC educational mix,
Journal of Marketing Communications, 15:2-3, pp119-137
Kerr, Patti and Chein (2004) “Integrated Marketing Communication: New discipline with an
old learning approach: A syllabi analysis” Paper presented at the Conference Proceedings
Australia and New Zealand Marketing Academy Conference 2004.
Kerr, G., Schultz, D., Patti, C. and Ilchul, K (2008) An inside-out approach to Integrated
Marketing Communication: an international analysis, International Journal of Advertising,
27(4), pp511-548
Kilatchko, J (2008) Revising the IMC construct, A revised definition and four pillars,
International Journal of Advertising, Volume 27, Issue 1, pp133-160
Kilatchko, J (2005) Towards a New Definition of Integrated Marketing Communications
(IMC), International Journal of Advertising, Volume 24, Issue 1, pp.7-34
Lee, D.H. and Park, C.W. (2007) Conceptualisation and Measurement of Multidimensionality
of Integrated Marketing Communications, Journal of Advertising Research, Volume 47,
Issue3 pp222-236
Patti, C. (2005) IMC: A new discipline with an old learning focus, Journal of Advertising, 34,
no.4, pp5-10
Schultz, D.E. (2004) IMC Receives More Appropriate Definition, Marketing News, Volume
38, Issue 15
Schultz, D. and Patti, C. (2009), The evolution of IMC: IMC in a customer-driven
marketplace, Journal of Marketing Communications, 15:2-3, pp75-84