An Integrated Approach to Communication Theory and Research

By Michael B. Salwen; Don W. Stacks | Go to book overview

29
Public Relations

Larissa A. Grunig University of Maryland

If any area of communication integrates and applies communication theory and research, it is public relations. As an area of communication, public relations is relatively new, one nearly bereft of its own body of theoretical knowledge necessary to enhance its practice in the "real world." As such, research has been largely atheoretical, as a perusal of the Body of Knowledge ( Public Relations Society of America, PRSA, 1988) establishes. The few theory-based public relations studies conducted have largely focussed on the process or effects of a single public relations program on individuals. Public relations, many would argue, is an applied field, dealing With the real world. Too often, public relations researchers fail to take into account the complex interplay of environment, organizational structure, corporate and societal culture, power, and the different approaches to public relations that are possible.

Examining public relations from this more comprehensive stance requires research methodologies that are equally comprehensive, unified, and global. This chapter's purpose is to acquaint readers with both a theory of public relations and a methodological approach appropriate for generating, testing, and developing such theory. Schneider1 (aka L. Grunig, 1985a) began working on a general, integrative theory,

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1
L. A. Schneider, L. S. Grunig, and L. A. Grunig refer to the same researcher.

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