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Responding to Activism: An Experimental Analysis of Public Relations Strategy Influence on Beliefs, Attitudes, and Behavioral Intentions
Unformatted Document Text:  Responding to Activism (ICA-15-11621) 6 A cooperative problem-solving strategy reflects a willingness to jointly define problems and solutions to problems. Messages derived from this strategy are characterized by an open exchange of information to establish a common definition of the problem, common goals, and to share positions and responsibilities about the issue. These strategies use inclusive symbols, such as ‘we.’ This strategy reflects characteristics of J. E. Grunig’s (1992) two-way symmetrical model in that there is a sense of interdependence among the organization and its publics. Cooperation is effective when an organization and its target public feel a need for each other’s participation in identification of problems and development of alternative solutions. Although research on the taxonomy of public relations strategies is limited, the findings of several studies indicate that it is a valid conceptualization of the public relations behavior of organizations (Page & Hazleton, 1999; Page, 2000a, 2000b). Page and Hazleton (1999) found that the seven strategies have unique usage characteristics, meaning organizations use some strategies more than others and some not at all, depending on the situation. Specifically, persuasive and informative strategies were found to be the most frequently used strategies in organizations. Coercive and bargaining strategies were found to be the least often used. Subsequent research measuring frequency of strategy use produced similar results (Page, 2000a; 2000b). In addition, research suggests that the use and effectiveness of public relations strategies depends on the characteristics of the public to whom the strategy is directed (Page & Hazleton, 1999). Hazleton and Long’s Public Relations Process Model offers a promising theoretical framework for the study of public relations strategy use in organizations. However, in order for the model and its taxonomy to find value in practice, research is needed that examines the influence strategies have on target publics. The theory of reasoned action provides a framework conducive to such an examination. Theory of Reasoned Action The theory of reasoned action provides a model for measuring people’s beliefs, attitudes, and intentions toward a behavior in order to predict their actual behavior (Fishbein & Ajzen, 1975; Ajzen & Fishbein, 1980). The theory specifies that: (1) behavior is determined by intention to engage in behavior, (2) intention is determined by attitude toward the behavior and subjective norm, (3) attitude is determined by behavioral beliefs and evaluations of the salient outcomes, and (4) subjective norm is determined by normative beliefs and motivation to comply with the salient referents (Fishbein & Ajzen, 1975). The theory assumes that attitude and behavior are related because humans are rational beings who systematically process the information available to them in a reasonable way to arrive at a behavioral decision (Fishbein, 1980). In most cases, people act consistently with their stated attitude (Fishbein & Ajzen, 1975; Ajzen & Fishbein, 1980). According to the theory, the immediate determinant of a person’s overt behavior is the person’s intention to perform the behavior. Behavioral intention is a function of an individual’s attitude toward the behavior and an individual’s subjective norm with respect to the behavior (Petty & Cacioppo, 1996).

Authors: Page, Kelly.
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Responding to Activism (ICA-15-11621)
6
A cooperative problem-solving strategy reflects a willingness to jointly define problems and solutions
to problems. Messages derived from this strategy are characterized by an open exchange of information to
establish a common definition of the problem, common goals, and to share positions and responsibilities
about the issue. These strategies use inclusive symbols, such as ‘we.’ This strategy reflects characteristics
of J. E. Grunig’s (1992) two-way symmetrical model in that there is a sense of interdependence among
the organization and its publics. Cooperation is effective when an organization and its target public feel a
need for each other’s participation in identification of problems and development of alternative solutions.
Although research on the taxonomy of public relations strategies is limited, the findings of several
studies indicate that it is a valid conceptualization of the public relations behavior of organizations (Page
& Hazleton, 1999; Page, 2000a, 2000b). Page and Hazleton (1999) found that the seven strategies have
unique usage characteristics, meaning organizations use some strategies more than others and some not at
all, depending on the situation. Specifically, persuasive and informative strategies were found to be the
most frequently used strategies in organizations. Coercive and bargaining strategies were found to be the
least often used. Subsequent research measuring frequency of strategy use produced similar results (Page,
2000a; 2000b). In addition, research suggests that the use and effectiveness of public relations strategies
depends on the characteristics of the public to whom the strategy is directed (Page & Hazleton, 1999).
Hazleton and Long’s Public Relations Process Model offers a promising theoretical framework for
the study of public relations strategy use in organizations. However, in order for the model and its
taxonomy to find value in practice, research is needed that examines the influence strategies have on
target publics. The theory of reasoned action provides a framework conducive to such an examination.
Theory of Reasoned Action
The theory of reasoned action provides a model for measuring people’s beliefs, attitudes, and
intentions toward a behavior in order to predict their actual behavior (Fishbein & Ajzen, 1975; Ajzen &
Fishbein, 1980). The theory specifies that: (1) behavior is determined by intention to engage in behavior,
(2) intention is determined by attitude toward the behavior and subjective norm, (3) attitude is determined
by behavioral beliefs and evaluations of the salient outcomes, and (4) subjective norm is determined by
normative beliefs and motivation to comply with the salient referents (Fishbein & Ajzen, 1975). The
theory assumes that attitude and behavior are related because humans are rational beings who
systematically process the information available to them in a reasonable way to arrive at a behavioral
decision (Fishbein, 1980). In most cases, people act consistently with their stated attitude (Fishbein &
Ajzen, 1975; Ajzen & Fishbein, 1980).
According to the theory, the immediate determinant of a person’s overt behavior is the person’s
intention to perform the behavior. Behavioral intention is a function of an individual’s attitude toward the
behavior and an individual’s subjective norm with respect to the behavior (Petty & Cacioppo, 1996).


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