During the summer of 1984, the IABC Foundation (now the IABC Research Foundation) issued a request for proposals for a research project that gave us a chance to conduct what is probably the largest study ever of the public relations profession. The IABC Foundation wanted to know “how, why, and to what extent communication affects the achievement of organizational objectives. ” Project director James Grunig assembled a research team of both scholars and practitioners from the United Kingdom as well as the United States. The team consisted of the three of us, James Grunig and Larissa Grunig of the University of Maryland and David Dozier of San Diego State University, along with William Ehling, then of Syracuse University and now retired, Jon White, then of the Cranfield School of Management in the United Kingdom and now with City University of London, and Fred Repper, the retired vice president of public relations for Gulf States Utilities in Beaumont, Texas.
This team demonstrated what true collaboration means. Together, we put together a proposal that promised to review the literature on organizational effectiveness to develop an answer to the question of how and why public relations has value to an organization. Because we believed that not all public relations units have value to their organizations, however, we also promised to do an extensive review of the literature on public relations to isolate the characteristics that make it more likely that a communication unit will add value to an organization. We could do that because each member of the team had been heavily involved in research on different, but complementary, aspects of communication management—such as strategic management, practitioner roles, gender and diversity, models of public relations, operations research, employee communication, organizational culture, and activism.
In the summer of 1985, the IABC Foundation awarded us a grant for $400,000 to conduct the project we had outlined. The literature review started