Exploring the Value of Public Relations in Strategy Implementation: Employee Relations in the Globalization Process

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The purpose of this dissertation is to explore the value of public relations in strategy implementation as demonstrated through the cultivation of employee-organization relationships in the context of globalization strategies and cultural influences. The key theoretical constructs included organization-public relationships, organizational strategies, resources, and strategy implementation.

Incorporating the resource-based view from the management literature, this study explored organization-public relationships as organizational resources and examined their contributions to strategy implementation. This overall framework was examined through globalization strategies, employee-organization relationships (EOR), and the influence of societal and organizational cultures.

I conducted 69 qualitative interviews with managers and employees in companies in China. Among them, 60 participants came from 14 case organizations (11 multinational companies, 2 mainland companies, and 1 Taiwanese company) and included 17 public relations managers, 10 strategy managers, and 33 employees. The 11 multinational companies followed different globalization strategies, 3 with high global integration and low local responsiveness, 5 with high global integration and high local responsiveness, and 3 with low global integration and high local responsiveness. Another 9 interviewees from separate organizations provided supplemental information.

The findings suggested that relationships were recognized as a resource that could contribute to competitive advantage. Both public relations managers and strategy managers recognized that characteristics of relationships overlapped with those of organizational resources. They also acknowledged the contribution of relationships to the implementation of strategies. Consistent with the concept of fit in the literature, participants pointed out the strategic use of relationships that corresponded to organizational strategies. When applying this to EOR in the globalization context, I found that the cultivation strategies of EOR, types of EOR, and outcomes of EOR reflected the demands of globalization strategies. Companies following different strategies, although they used similar relationship cultivation strategies, focused on different dimensions of them. Finally, data suggested that both societal and organizational cultures influenced EOR. The interaction between societal and organizational cultures was influenced by other factors, the most important one being different orientations in globalization strategies.

Overall, this study showed that 1) the value of public relations can be demonstrated through its linkages to organizational strategies, which facilitated its participation in strategic management; 2) EOR cultivation that corresponded with globalization strategies contributed to the implementation of these strategies; and 3) refined understanding and cultivation of EOR can benefit from an examination of perspectives from both managers and employees. The study also provided practitioners in multinational companies with practical guidance in cultivating relationships with local employees.