The style it takes: how do UK universities communicate their identity through welcome addresses?

Jeroen Huisman*, Jelle Mampaey

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

8 Citations (Web of Science)


In times when universities are becoming less self-evident, these organisations may be confounded in terms of which aspects of their activities and performances they should communicate with their stakeholders. A related question - central to our study - is how they communicate. This paper analyses the style of one particular type of communication: welcome addresses of key spokespersons of UK universities. Building on the pertinent image and identity literature and using Speech Act Theory, we expected to find differences between universities by prestige and age and over time. We found that older universities use different styles compared to younger universities, and that there were also differences by prestige. We also found considerable changes over time. The findings suggest we should not see these welcome addresses as purely ceremonial, but as intentional messages with communication styles that reflect the organisational attributes of the university.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)502-515
Number of pages14
JournalHigher Education Research & Development
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • communication
  • image
  • Speech Act Theory
  • UK
  • universities


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