THE EMPLOYEE-PUBLIC-ORGANIZATION CHAIN IN RELATIONSHIP MANAGEMENT: A CASE STUDY OF A GOVERNMENT ORGANIZATION
Grunig, James E
MetadataShow full item record
This dissertation examined the critical roles that employees play in an organization's relationship-building process with its publics. By conducting an in-depth case study of a government organization's exemplary community relations programs, the researcher explored links among three focal concepts: employee-organization relationships, employee-public relationships, and organization-public relationships. Field research was conducted over the course of seven weeks. Data were collected through long interviews, participant observations, and document analysis. Based on the findings of this study, a normative public relations theory of integrative internal and external organizational relationship management was proposed. The findings suggest that employees who have positive employee-organization relationships (i.e. employees who have high level of commitment) and those who are capable of using symmetrical cultivation strategies contribute significantly to the development of positive organization-public relationships. The study also found that when the external publics have positive interactions and develop trusting individual relationships with employees, they tend to evaluate the overall organization positively. In other words, when employees have positive employee-organization relationships and employee-public relationships, external publics who interact with those employees tended to develop positive organization-public relationships. The study also found that employee empowerment can occur through employees' participation in public relations programs for external publics. Employees in this study believed they were acting as "the ears" of the organization and that they were contributing to the betterment of the organization and the community at the same time. Employees also developed personal networks with other employees through participating in public relations programs, which contributed to the building of an internal community. The study showed that public relations programs that tap into the intersection of internal and external publics contribute to the simultaneous development of positive relationships within and between both arenas. Visible leadership, continued dialogue, listening, face-to-face communication, and educational communication were newly identified as significant strategies effecting the development of positive organization-public relationships. In conclusion, this dissertation proposes that in order for public relations to enact its role as an integrated relationship management function for both the internal and external publics, it should be organized according to the principles outlined by the excellence theory and practice symmetrical communication.