The extensive and lengthy analysis of practitioner roles in this chapter is driven by three factors. First, this constitutes the only extensive review of previous roles research in more than a dozen years (see Dozier, 19%). Second, the Excellence study examined practitioner roles at several levels of analysis. Roles were measured in terms of departmental expertise or knowledge to enact various roles, the actual roles enacted by each department's top communicator, and the role expectations of the organization's CEO (or other senior-ranking executive). To make sense of findings at these multiple levels of analysis requires considerable deconstruction. Third, practitioner roles play a central role in the overall Excellence of communication departments and organizations.
Roles are abstractions about the patterned behaviors of individuals in organizations, a way of classifying and summarizing the myriad activities that an individual might perform as a member of an organization. By playing roles, individuals mesh activities, yielding predictable outcomes. Arguably, organizations are defined as systems of roles. In public relations, the concept of practitioner role has been systematically studied for about 25 years; such research places practitioner roles at the nexus of a network of important antecedent concepts and professional consequences. In the Excellence study, new role measures were developed and used to expand this important theoretical area.
In their early conceptual work, Daniel Katz and Robert Kahn (1966, 1978) sought to bridge the gap between sociology and psychology by assigning a central place to roles enacted by individuals in organizations. Building on the work of Linton (1936), Newcomb (1951), T. Parsons (1951), and Merton (1957), Katz