Sven Windahl (born May 1, 1942) is a Swedish professor of communication studies as well as a consultant in the field of organizational communication. His most influential work to date is the book Using Communication Theory from 1989, co-authored with Dr. Benno Signitzer and Jean T. Olson. The book has been translated into many languages.
Windahl was born in Fristad outside Borås in Sweden. While in high school (gymnasium) in Borås he also worked as a journalist at the social democratic newspaper Västgöta-demokraten
He studied sociology at Lund University from 1963 to 1968, remaining at the university in an amanuensis position. In 1970, he became assistant professor at Växjö University (now Linnaeus University) where he was instrumental in starting one of the first masters programmes in “information techniques” (now the Public Relations and Communication Programme) in Sweden. The programme focused on training people for information and communication work in the public sector, but as the programme continued, the private sector became an increasingly interested outlet.
While at Växjö University, he finished his doctoral thesis on the professionalization of journalism in Sweden.
While at the University of Minnesota in 1980-82 he worked with professor Jerry Kline on communication campaigns and also became editor and contributor of the highly respected peer-reviewed annual journal Mass Communication Review Yearbook published by SAGE Publications.
In 1982, his book Communication Models was published – co-authored with Denis McQuail. The book details basic communication models (Lasswell model, Shannon and Weaver’s model, Gerbner’s model), theories of media, audience-centered models and mass media systems in general.
In 1986, he was visiting professor at the University of Salzburg, working with professor Benno Signitzer with whom he wrote the book Using Communication Theory: An Introduction to Planned Communication (published 1989). The book has been translated into many languages. In 2009 the book was revised and updated.
His major research project between 1975 and 1987 was The Media Panel Program (MPP). The program was located at Lund University in Sweden and was a long-term research program focused on basic aspects of the mass media use by Swedish children, adolescents and young adults. The MPP was founded by professors Karl Erik Rosengren and Sven Windahl, and is acknowledged as being one of the most comprehensive of its kind. Publications include: Media matter: TV use in childhood and adolescence (KE Rosengren, S Windahl and B Dervin
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, JAI Press Limited 1989).
While still part-time professor at Växjö University he started the consultancy ComCare, mainly serving the public and health-care sector. In 1985-1992 retro football top, he was working as an advisor to the Swedish government task force on AIDS (AIDS delegationen) for whom he made a comparative study of AIDS prevention initiatives across European countries. While working with the health care sector he gradually turned his focus to organizational communication and management communication. In 1991, he founded the consultancy Kommunikationsanalys AB sweater de piller.
In 1992, he became professor at Lund University, Department of Communication Studies and moved to Copenhagen. In 1993, he founded the consultancy Nordisk Kommunikation with branches in Copenhagen, Stockholm and Malmö, where he is still active. As a communication consultant and advisor mainly in the field of internal and organisational communication he is widely respected and acknowledged among communication professionals in Scandinavia. In the late 1990s, he introduced the now widespread notion of communicative leadership, focusing on the communication aspects of leadership in organisations. He has in many years been a sought-after lecturer among communication professionals in Scandinavia and is working as communications advisor to many international companies.