Excellence Research Dividends Continue: Latest Book Explores Public Relations and Effective Organizations

By Gillis, Tamara L. | Communication World, May-June 2004 | Go to article overview

Excellence Research Dividends Continue: Latest Book Explores Public Relations and Effective Organizations


Gillis, Tamara L., Communication World


When the IABC Research Foundation decided 20 years ago to fund one of the most ambitious research projects in the study of business communication, it was the start of something big. Known today as the Excellence Study, the initial project was led by communication scholars James Grunig, Larissa Grunig and David Dozier and was designed to answer the questions "how, why and to what extent does communication affect the achievement of organizational objectives?"

The resulting cross-cultural 15-year research study provides practical tools, scholarly support and theory in the area of communication management. It continues to be a landmark study in the practice of public relations, backed up by examples of excellent corporate communication.

Through the years, this research investment has netted the IABC Research Foundation a number of related projects and served as background for many ancillary research studies and lectures.

In 1991, the foundation published initial results of the study in an Excellence index titled, "Excellence in Public Relations and Communication Management: Initial Data Report and Practical Guide."

The first book stemming from the research project rolled out in 1992. "Excellence in Public Relations and Communication Management" provided an in-depth literature review of the discipline.

Two years later, the foundation published a qualitative analysis of case studies conducted during the discovery phase of the project. The results were "IABC Excellence in Public Relations and Communication Management," and "Phase II Qualitative Study, Initial Analysis: Cases of Excellence."

In 1995, busy communication professionals welcomed the "Manager's Guide to Excellence in Public Relations and Communication Management," which provided summaries of the quantitative and qualitative studies conducted for the Excellence projects.

The final installment of the series, "Excellent Public Relations and Effective Organizations," updates the original literature review and summarizes the research in the most in-depth fashion.

For the academic community, the latest work provides the in-depth statistical data and analyses often sought to support the theory of communication management. For educators, researchers and students, the book shows and explains all facets of the project, from research methods to sample surveys to the data collected and tabulated. The book reaffirms research as the foundation for planning and measuring communication programs.

At first glance, the statistical data and charts may appear overwhelming, but both aid in understanding the process of the Excellence Study. For practitioners, this final product provides insights into the daily application of public relations and communication excellence through case study examples. The research applications exhibited (such as the sample survey documents) provide an audit tool for practitioners to collect data, compare their current practices to the Excellence index and sample cases, and model improved practices in communication management.

Finally, the cross-cultural data from the surveys and the case studies provide insight into the applications of public relations and communication management. …

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