University of Limerick
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The challenge of skill development through “experiencing” integrated marketing communications

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-12-08, 12:33 authored by Christina O'ConnorChristina O'Connor, Gillian Moran

Purpose – Integrated marketing communications (IMC) is possibly “the richest and most accessible service-learning experience” in the marketing curriculum (Petkus, 2000, p. 68). Yet, despite this recognition, scholars and practitioners continue to lament the pronounced theory-practice gap between how IMC is taught and the practice of it in industry (Schultz and Patti, 2009; Kerr and Kelly, 2017). This research embeds IMC practice within a classroom setting and subsequently explores student marketers’ perceptions of their skill development through experiential client-based learning.

Design/methodology/approach – An in-depth qualitative study demonstrates the value of integrating experiential learning within an IMC course, captured through students’ reflective practice.

Findings – Evidence suggests that experiential, client-based projects are suitable for fostering key practice-based skills in the classroom through students “experiencing” IMC at work. However, this is not always easy.

In fact, building key skills such as leadership, motivation, communications, organisation and teamwork presents various challenges for students, whilst students appear unaware of other pertinent skills (e.g. persuasion, critical thinking) gained through exposure to “real-world” IMC tasks.

Practical implications – Instructors adopting experiential learning in the marketing classroom have an opportunity to actively design tasks to embed key workplace skills to bridge the theory-practice gap. Client-based projects offer fertile ground for students to experience marketing in action whilst ultimately bolstering their confidence in their workplace skills.

Originality/value – This research contributes to the marketing education literature and acknowledges the importance of embedding key workplace skills into the contemporary marketing curriculum. An overview of challenges and solutions for instructors seeking to adopt experiential learning via client-based projects in the IMC classroom is presented within this research.



Higher Education, Skills and Work-Based Learning, 2023


Emerald Publishing Ltd.,

Other Funding information

The authors would like to acknowledge seed funding received from Maynooth University School of Business

Sustainable development goals

  • (4) Quality Education

Department or School

  • Management & Marketing

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