Organizational Public Relations: A Political Perspective

By Christopher Spicer | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 9
Communication From a Collaborative Frame

In chapter 8, we examined some of the characteristics associated with adversarial communication in the two-way asymmetrical, or advocacy, model. Advocacy communication is largely based on a managerial point of view in that it clearly is used as a means of controlling the ways in which situations are defined and given meaning. Organizational advocacy communication is grounded in a combination of Sullivan's ( 1965) technical and partisan values. As such, communication effectiveness lies with the creation of a persuasive message (via the conduit metaphor) that successfully limits participation in the organization's sphere of influence, or system ( Deetz, 1992).

This chapter turns to an alternative view of communication, one that emanates from Grunig's ( 1992) ideal two-way symmetrical model of public relations. Because this alternative view is often discussed in terms of consensus, I originally intended to title this chapter the rhetoric of consensus. My reading and thinking, though, have moved me beyond the relative notion of consensus as an end-product to the more process-oriented experience of collaboration. As evident throughout this chapter, consensus might be a by-product or result of collaboration, but not necessarily. Collaboration much more clearly delineates the communication distinctions between the two-way symmetrical and two-way asymmetrical models of public relations.

In chapter 8, we examined a case study of the timber/environmental conflict in the northwest that highlighted an advocacy approach to communication between ideological foes. We begin this chapter with a case study that highlights a collaborative approach to communication

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