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Sophia Charlotte Volk M.A.

Sophia Charlotte Volk is a research associate and PhD candidate at the Department of Strategic Communication at Leipzig University. Prior to joining Leipzig University in 2015, Sophia studied communication science and communication management at University of Münster, University of Zürich (Switzerland), Leipzig University, and Ohio University (United States). From 2011 to 2015, she worked as a student research assistant in several collaborative research projects at Leipzig and Münster University, i.e. for the European Communication Monitor 2013, the Global Study of Leadership in Public Relations, and the research program Value Creating Communication. Besides her studies, she gained practical experiences in the fields of communication consulting (Mann beißt Hund), corporate communications (Westfälische Provinzial), social media and e-marketing (Allianz), and brand communications (Deutsche Bank).

Research Interest 1: Comparative Communication Research and International Research Collaborations

Sophia is specializing in the field of comparative communication research with a particular interest in comparative theory and methodology and the production of comparative knowledge within internationational research teams. Her dissertation, titled  “Comparative Communication Research: Conceptual, Methodological, and Collaborative Challenges and Solutions”, investigates the state-of-the-art of comparative communication research and the collaborative challenges of conducting international research projects. Theoretically, she pursues a sociology of science approach to explore the intellectual and social structures of the field. Based on an interdisciplinary literature review, she develops a theoretical framework of quality criteria of comparative studies as well as a heuristics of the problems of geographically dispersed, project-based, temporary research teams. Methodologically, she combines a systematic review of more than 300 comparative studies in 27 SSCI-listed communication journals (2015-2019) and expert interviews with the principal investigators of collaborative international research projects in communication science. 

Sophia was involved in two comparative research projects in the field of corporate communication and gained experiences working with research teams from Europe, North America, and Asia. She received a two-year DAAD PPP grant for the project Comparative Research in Strategic Communication (2017-2018) in cooperation with Hong Kong Baptist University and completed two research stays in Hong Kong. Her dissertation was awarded a doctoral scholarship of the German National Academic Foundation [Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes] (2016-2019).

Research Interest 2: Strategic Communication, Public Relations, Corporate Communication 

Sophia's background is in the field of strategic communication / public relations and corporate communication. In her research on communication management and evaluation and measurement she draws great inspiration from organizational, strategy and management research. She has been intrigued by the fundamental question of what role communication plays in the organizational context  – why organizations invest resources in communication, how they manage and organize communication, how they measure communication effects, and how communication supports organizational strategy and value creation. Methodologically, she likes to combine qualitative and quantitative approaches, using interviews, document analyses, and surveys, enabling her to map the big picture but also gain a deeper understanding. Her research has been published in international journals and she has received several awards in Europe and the United States. As a researcher in the project Value Creating Communication (2016-2019), a joint research project with University of Münster, University Hohenheim and Humboldt-University Berlin funded by the Academic Society for Corporate Management and Communication, Sophia co-authored the German book “Toolbox Communication Management” (Springer Gabler 2019), which will be published as an adapted English version in 2021 (Springer Nature).


  • ICA - International Communication Association 
  • ECREA - European Communication Research and Education Association 
  • EUPRERA - European Public Relations Education and Research Association 
  • DGPuK - Deutsche Gesellschaft für Publizistik- und Kommunikationswissenschaft 
  • naprok - Netzwerk NachwuchsforscherInnen PR & Organisationskommunikation


  • 2018-2019: Student and Early Career Representative of the ICA Public Relations Division
  • 2018-2019: Member of the ICA Student and Early Career Representative Advisory Committee (SECAC) 
  • 2016-2020: Early Career Representative of the DGPuK Public Relations / Organizational Communication Division (naprok) 


  • 2019: Institute for Public Relations W. Ward White Top Paper Award
  • 2016: EUPRERA Master Thesis Award (Theoretical Impact Award)
  • 2016: University of Miami School of Communication Top Student Paper Award
  • 2016: Koichi Yamamura International Strategic Communication Award
  • 2016: Institute for Public Relations Top Three Papers of Practical Significance Award


Sophia's teaching portfolio is focused on theory courses and applied research seminars with alternating topics and a specific focus on research-practice-transfer. 

  • Summer 20: Seminar "Communication controlling and communication management tools", Master
  • Fall 19: Seminar “Organization theories and organizational communication”, Master
  • Fall 19: Applied research seminar “Developing a Panel Survey among German Young Professionals in Communication Management” in cooperation with PR Report / #30u30, Master
  • Fall 18: Seminar “Organization theories and organizational communication”, Master
  • Fall 18: Applied research seminar “A Qualitative Study of Corporate Ambassadors as New Voices of Integrated Communication” in cooperation with Deutsche Telekom AG, Master
  • Fall 17: Seminar “Organization theories and organizational communication”, Master
  • Summer 17: Seminar “Comparative Research in Strategic Communication”, Master
  • Fall 16: Applied research seminar “Strategic Management of Sponsorings of Arts, Culture, and Sports” in cooperation with Deutsche Bank AG, Master
  • Summer 16: Seminar “Communication controlling”, Master
  • Fall 15: Applied research seminar “Strategic Digital Health Communication” in cooperation with Allianz Deutschland AG, Master



Zerfass, A., Volk, S. C., Meng, J., & Chen, P. (2021, forthcoming). Toolbox Communication Management. Applied Methods for Managing Corporate Communications. Cham: Springer Nature.


Brockhaus, J., Dicke, L., Hauck, P., & Volk, S. C. (2020, forthcoming). Employees as corporate ambassadors: A qualitative study exploring the perceived benefits and risks from three perspectives. In A. Tkalac Verčič, R. Tench, & S. Einwiller, S. (Eds.), Joy. Using strategic communication to improve well-being and organizational success. Bingley: Emerald.

Volk, S.C., & Zerfaß, A. (2020, forthcoming). Positionierung von Kommunikationsabteilungen und Kommunikatoren: Selbstverständnis, Rollen und Wertbeitrag. In A. Zerfaß, M. Piwinger & U. Röttger (Hrsg.), Handbuch Unternehmenskommunikation (3. Auflage). Wiesbaden: Springer Gabler.

Zerfass, A., & Volk, S. C. (2020). Communication Management. In P. Moy (Ed.), Oxford Bibliographies in Communication. New York: Oxford University Press, 2020-02-26. DOI: 10.1093/OBO/9780199756841-0244.

Zerfass, A., & Volk, S. C. (2020). Aligning and Linking Communication with Organizational Goals. In M. J. Canel & V. Luoma-Aho (Eds.), Handbook of Public Sector Communication (pp. 417-434). Chichester, UK: Wiley Blackwell.


Zerfaß, A., & Volk, S. C. (2019). Toolbox Kommunikationsmanagement. Denkwerkzeuge und Methoden für die Steuerung der Unternehmenskommunikation. Wiesbaden: Springer Gabler.

Volk, S. C., & Buhmann, A. (2019). New avenues in communication evaluation and measurement: Towards a research agenda for the 2020s. Journal of Communication Management, 23(3), 162-178.


Zerfass, A., & Volk, S. C. (2018). How communication departments contribute to corporate success: The communications contributions framework. Journal of Communication Management, 22(4), 397-415.

Volk, S. C., & Zerfass, A. (2018). Alignment: Revisiting a key concept in strategic communication. International Journal of Strategic Communication, 12(4), 433–451.

Zerfass, A., Volk, S. C., Lautenbach, C., & Jakubowitz, M. (2018). Management tools for corporate communications – Relevance, benefits and experiences. Results of an empirical study in communication departments. Leipzig, Frankfurt: University of Leipzig / Lautenbach Sass. Available at

Zerfaß, A., Volk, S.C., Chen, R. & Zhan, M. (2018). Shared Value als Chance für die Unternehmenskommunikation. Studie zur Akzeptanz von CSR- und CSV-Aktivitäten in Deutschland, China und den USA. PR magazin, 49(8), 72-78.


Volk, S. C. (2017). Towards Comparative Research in Strategic Communication: Analysis of Current Cross-National Studies and Future Directions. International Journal of Strategic Communication, 11(5), 434-453.

Zerfaß, A., Verčič, D., & Volk, S. C. (2017). Communication evaluation and measurement: Skills, practices and utilization in European organizations. Corporate Communications: An International Journal, 22(1), 2-18.

Volk, S. C., Berger, K., Zerfass, A., Bisswanger, L., Fetzer, M., Köhler, K. (2017). How to play the game. Strategic tools for managing corporate communications and creating value for your organization (Communication Insights, Issue 3). Leipzig, Germany: Academic Society for Corporate Management & Communication. Available online at

Winkler, L., Volk, S. C., Borner, M., & Zerfaß A. (2017). Zwischen Intention und Emergenz. Mittelstandskommunikation im Spannungsfeld kontroverser Strategieparadigmen. In S. Wehmeier & D. Schoeneborn (Hrsg.), Strategische Kommunikation im Spannungsfeld zwischen Intention und Emergenz (S. 215-232). Wiesbaden: Springer VS.


Volk, S. C. (2016). A Systematic Review of 40 Years of Public Relations Evaluation and Measurement Research: Looking into the Past, the Present, and Future. Public Relations Review, 42(5), 962-977.


Berger, K., Borner, M., Köhler, K., Viertmann, C., Volk, S. C., & Zerfaß, A. (2015). Was bringt das alles? Wertschöpfung durch Kommunikation (Communication Insights, Issue 1). Leipzig: Akademische Gesellschaft für Unternehmensführung und Kommunikation. Available online at

Ebert, J., Keßler, S., & Volk, S. C. (2015). Akzeptanz durch Transparenz? In G. Bentele, R. Bohse, U. Hitschfeld & F. Krebber (Eds.), Akzeptanz in der Medien- und Protestgesellschaft: Zur Debatte um Legitimation, öffentliches Vertrauen, Transparenz und Partizipation (pp. 41-56). Wiesbaden: Springer VS.