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2023/2024  BA-BKOMV6004U  Naming & Framing: Mastering the Power of Words

English Title
Naming & Framing: Mastering the Power of Words

Course information

Language English
Course ECTS 7.5 ECTS
Type Elective
Level Bachelor
Duration One Semester
Start time of the course Autumn
Timetable Course schedule will be posted at calendar.cbs.dk
Max. participants 50
Study board
Study Board for BSc/MSc in Business Administration and Organizational Communication, BSc
Course coordinator
  • Viktor Smith - Department of Management, Society and Communication (MSC)
Main academic disciplines
  • Innovation
  • Communication
  • Marketing
Teaching methods
  • Blended learning
Last updated on 14-02-2023

Relevant links

Learning objectives
To achieve the grade 12, students should meet the following learning objectives with no or only minor mistakes or errors:
  • Formulate a set of clear research questions relative to a self-identified naming & framing challenge in business and/or society accepted by the teacher(s) to serve as an exam case.
  • Apply key theoretical concepts and empirical methods presented during the course to analyzing central strategic and operational aspects of the case chosen.
  • Propose and motivate an operational solution to meeting the naming & framing challenge identified.
Course prerequisites
Although the teaching language is English, the course will, to the extent possible, also address naming & framing challenges that involve other languages and cultures, including the native languages and cultural backgrounds of participating exchange students.
Naming & Framing: Mastering the Power of Words:
Exam ECTS 7,5
Examination form Home assignment - written product
Individual or group exam Individual exam
Size of written product Max. 10 pages
The written assignment must be max. 10 pages, excluding appendices.
Assignment type Written assignment
Release of assignment Subject chosen by students themselves, see guidelines if any
Duration 2 weeks to prepare
Grading scale 7-point grading scale
Examiner(s) One internal examiner
Exam period Autumn
Make-up exam/re-exam
Same examination form as the ordinary exam
If the student has not yet identified a case to serve as a basis for the exam and had it approved by the teacher(s), the student must do so no later than 2 weeks before the re-take. If the student has previously submitted an exam paper based on self-identified case, but did not pass the exam, the student may either base the re-take on the same case or propose a new case and have it approved by the teacher(s) within the time limits indicated above.
Description of the exam procedure

The home assignment can be written in English or Danish at the student’s own choice. It should be based on a self-choisen case approved by theteacher(s) and worked upon throughout the progressiion of the course, as further detailed below.


During the course, your will form study groups of 2-5 persons. Each group will identify a naming & framing challenge in business and/or society which will constitute the basis for the group’s casework in class. The case topic must be approved by the teacher(s) and formulated in the shape of a set of clearly formulated research questions submitted to the teacher(s) by email at a set date.


The outcome of the casework will first be presented in the shape of a 10-15 min group presentations (pitches) in class for discussion and feedback in the final part of the course. On that background, the group members will write and hand in their individual exam papers, drawing on the outcome of the collective work (which can be referred to and included in the papers of all group members) while also further elaborating on it individually. Before the final sessiion, each student will have the opportunity to hand in a short overview/synopsis of the planned individual paper (1-2 standard pages) for written and in-class feedback.


The final exam paper must account for the theoretical frameworks and the empirical methods on the basis of which the case is addressed and, on that background, propose and motivate an operational course of action for dealing with the naming & framing challenge identified. This includes discussing the implications and limitations of the choices made. The written product must be handed in on a set date following the last lecture.


If, for compelling reasons, a student has been unable to participate in the group work, the student can select and present a case individually and use that case as a basis for the final paper.

Course content, structure and pedagogical approach

Picking or creating the right words for something is crucial to how people will understand that 'something' and whether they will love it or hate it, believe it or reject it, fear it or desire it… or buy it. Dealing systematically with these matters is a vital part of the job in a variety of fields that span from marketing, branding, and advertising, through PR and political communication, to national and cultural identity building, public health promotion, and climate-change action.


In recent years, the phrase naming & framing has become increasingly used for referring to the totality of communicative and psychological mechanisms in play here. The present course offers an integrated introduction to naming & framing processes as they unfold in the domains mentioned, and in everyday life. An emphasis is put on bridging between complementary theoretical perspectives and, not least, between theory and practice.


The overarching rationale is that the power of words ultimately comes down to four different, but tightly connected enterprises:


  1. Giving things names (otherwise, no one will care).
  2. Deciding on what name to give them (green tax works better than fuel tax).
  3. Further shaping people’s understanding of these names through surrounding verbal and non-verbal cues (Apple® just means ‘apple’, but has been framed to success by other words, images, and immediate consumer experiences).
  4. Selecting larger sets of names and supporting non-vebal cues for presenting a wider subject in a particular light (a coup against a government is bad, a rebellion against a regime is good – but the names may well refer to the same events).


The course combines general insights on persuasive and marketing communication with recent experimental findings on people’s real-time decoding of innovative single words (product and brand names, political buzzwords, etc. but also plain words) and whole “cocktails” of words, texts, colours, pictures, films, actions etc. that are served across a variety of platforms to promote a variety communicative agendas and goals. The course furthermore addresses psychological mechanisms such as stereotype thinking, mental shortcuts and biases, and cost/benefit tradeoffs in information processing that make us receptive to persuasive framing effects.


Throughout, word-based framing is seen as both depending on and contributing to framing effects achieved through non-verbal communi­cative means (pictures, colours, symbols, shapes, tastes, etc.). In addition to the theoretical curriculum, the participants will be introduced to selected methodological principles and tools suited for pinpointing the essence of concrete naming & framing challenges and for developing and pre-testing possible solutions to them. There will also be opportunities to try some of them out hands-on on a smaller scale.


On this basis, the course will enable the participants to contribute operationally to the planning, implementation and evaluation of naming and framing decisions for a variety of strategic and tactical purposes in private enterprises, public organizations, authorities, and political movements.

Description of the teaching methods
Class lectures will be combined with practical exercises that will reinforce the participant’s analytical skills and capability to identify and come up with creative and effective solutions to concrete naming and framing challenges. This includes group presentation of self-identified cases involving essential naming and framing challenges for peer discussion and feedback. The casework in class will serve also as a basis for singling out the the real-life cases to be addressed in the participants’ final written assignments. A group that has been working together on a given case during the course, may use that joint casework as a basis for their individual exam papers, as long as the papers remain clearly individualized. This includes the results of joint empirical work, pre-tests, etc. The choice of communicative domain for the final exam paper may reflect the personal interests and academic orientation of each participant, as long as the case falls within the overall scope of the course.

All activities serve to support the participants' development of the Nordic Nine competencies which constitute the overarching objective for all study programs at CBS. Particular emphasis is placed on the ability to think across discipline boundaries, engage in constructive but critical dialogue in the course of teamwork, and combine value creation through persuasive communication with social responsibility. Read more about Nordic Nine here: https:/​/​www.cbs.dk/​nordic-nine.
Feedback during the teaching period
Continuous feedback will be given in the shape of oral or written comments on group presentations, the pre-exam paper (synopsis), feedback on oral class exercises, and a multiple-choice test.
Student workload
Lectures and exercises 38 hours
Preparation and exam 170 hours
Total 208 hours
Expected literature


Smith, V. (2021). Naming and Framing: Understanding the Power of Words Across Disciplines, Domains, and Modalities. Routledge Studies in Multimodality. New York: Taylor & Francis


Selected chapters from:

  • Fairhurst, G. T. (2011). The Power of Framing: Creating the Language of Leadership. San Francisco: John Wiley & Sons.
  • O'Keefe, D. J. (2015). Persuasion: Theory and Research. Saage Publishing.
  • Fill, C., & Turnbull, S. (2019). Marketing Communications. 8th Edition. London: Pearson.
  • Riezebos, R. (2003). Brand. Management: A. Theoretical and Practical Approach. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall.
  • Aitchison, J. (2012). Words in the Mind. An Introduction to the Mental Lexicon. 4th Edition. Oxford: Blackwell


The curriculum will furthermore include journal articles, reports, original case material, online resources, etc. available either online or via the Canvas portal or the CBS Library. 

Last updated on 14-02-2023