Alexandra Figueira: new PhD in Communication Sciences

The doctoral exams in Communication Sciences by Alexandra Figueira were held on March 5 (2:30 p.m.), in the ICS (Social Sciences Institute) Sala de Atos of the University of Minho, in Braga. The thesis is supervised by Teresa Ruão and Paulo Mourão (UMinho School of Economics and Management), and is entitled “Levelling the score: Study of Organizational Communication as a contributor to sustainability of strategic partnerships between charities and corporations”.

According to the new PhD, the growing complexity of social problems demands that charities, a cornerstone of social support in Portugal, adopt new communications strategies. Traditional models, solidified in a centuries old sector, are increasingly obsolete, in a globalized and fast-paced changing world, alongside a decreasing Social State. That’s why she defends that there is therefore a pressing need “to find new communication and collaboration frameworks that add to charities’ sustainability and provide them with the necessary resources to carry out their mission and offer their beneficiaries solutions of greater social value”.

With this investigation, Alexandra Figueira intended to discuss communication strategies that allow charities to skilfully manage the increasing number of corporate social responsibility programs. We studied two cases of best practices, CAIS and Bagos d’Ouro, as well as two of their corporate partners, Unicer and Symington, in order to uncover their internal structure, their perspective on inter organizational cooperation and, above all, the communicative strategies adopted while negotiating, establishing and executing partnerships.

Based on the lessons learned from these organizations and from the theories constructed by the main authors of these fields of knowledge, we proposed a strategic communication model “that allows charities to take full advantage of and encourage the development corporate of social responsibility programs designed to increase the amount of social value created, while reinforcing the corporations’ mercantile activity. This communications model is grounded on the premise that the partnership is symbiotic, and that the inherent risks and threats, as noted here, are reduced”, contributing “to an in-depth reflection on the relevance of charities to inter organizational models and concluded that it is possible to level the scores, in a collaborative work, for the greater good of the community”.

The panel of examiners was chaired by Helena Sousa president of the ICS, and is composed of the following members:

– José António Cadima Ribeiro (Full Professor at Department of Economics, UMinho School of Economics and Management);
– Teresa Ruão (Senior Lecturer at UMinho’s Communication Sciences Department- Institute of Social Sciences, and CECS investigator);
– Vasco Ribeiro (Lecturer at University of Porto, Department of Communication and Information Sciences, Faculty of Letters);
– Helena Pires (Lecturer at UMinho’s Communication Sciences Department- Institute of Social Sciences, and CECS investigator);
– Eduardo Duque (Lecturer at Faculty of Philosophy and Social Sciences of the Portuguese Catholic University, Regional Center of Braga and and CECS investigator)

Text: Vítor de Sousa
Photos: Marta Barbosa