Establishing the Organizational Setting: Systems Theory and Beyond
In chapter 2, I presented a picture of the dark side of organizational public relations. Although the causes for the negative cultural connotations are many, one of the root sources is the inability of the public relations profession to adequately define what it does ( Bivins, 1989; Kruckeberg & Starck, 1988). "Symptomatic of the inadequacies of any understanding of the role and function of public relations today is the problem of its definition. What is public relations? What does it do? What is it supposed to do? Is it doing what it is supposed to do?" ( Kruckeberg & Starck, 1988, p. 11). In this chapter, I begin to answer Kruckeberg and Starck's questions. This chapter (a) deconstructs a typical definition of organizational public relations, (b) isolates the primary assumptions public relations practitioners make about organizations when they describe the public relations function of organizations, (c) establishes the historical significance of Grunig and Hunt's ( 1984) twoway asymmetrical and symmetrical models of public relations, and (d) identifies the strengths and weaknesses of the systems approach to the study of organizations and organizational public relations.
At the end of this chapter, I move to a more elaborated model and discussion of organizational processes, of which public relations is but one.
A good definition should focus our attention on the salient characteristics of the object or phenomena being defined. Most definitions of