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Reflective Communication Management, a Public View on Public Relations
Unformatted Document Text:  13 administration as an “institution,” means there is less concern for careful matching of ends and means and more for definition of the ends to be realized. “The predominance of functional rationality is rather detrimental to the institutional dimensions which are geared towards substantial rationality,” Zijderveld argues (p.95). The concept of organization is economic and administrative, the concept of institution is sociological. The organizational dimension gives an organization economic legitimacy and trustworthiness. From the perspective of “organization,” the focus is on societal values, but only from the perspective of a functional rationality that is instrumental to economic and administrative reasoning. From the perspective of “institution,” societal values are the bottom line. That is why only the institutional dimension gives an organization societal legitimation and trustworthiness. In most current communication management theories, only the economic dimension of legitimation is in use. The question is does this economic concept suffice? To address this we need to differentiate further between the two dimensions. Institutions are traditional and collective patterns of behavior, ways of acting, thinking, and feeling. “Social behavior is essential for the survival of human beings, while institutions – as traditional patterns of behavior – ensure, by taking for granted the order and security needed for actions to be successful” (Zijderveld, 2000:16). Zijderveld echoes Gehlen, a German sociologist from the beginning of the last century, who claimed that institutions can be seen as universal, perhaps even biologically determined, competence structures, while institutes are their specific historical and cultural realizations. “When people live together in groups and set out to divide the labor needed in order to survive, basic institutions will emerge” (p.37), and they emerge in certain realities, or institutes, which are the empirical realizations of these patterns within a specific history and culture. For example, a corporation is the realization of the institution “economy,” an administration is the realization of the institution “state.” Institutes come and go, institutions are more lasting; they are ways of acting, thinking, and feeling, realized in historically and culturally-rooted institutes. From this point of view, we can argue that the organizational dimension is an empirical realization of the more fundamental, societally-rooted institutional dimension. For short-term survival the organizational dimension is important, while for long-term survival the institutional dimension is more important. Institutes are thus creations of human beings, established to survive as social entities. As a consequence they only exist as long as they are seen as meaningful by their society. What a society considers as meaningful (i.e., socially legitimate) is a social construction itself, based in the dynamic structure of the empirical realizations of its institutions. 3.2. Societal legitimation as an organizational constraint

Authors: Van Ruler, A. A. Betteke. and Vercic, Dejan.
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13
administration as an “institution,” means there is less concern for careful matching of ends and means and
more for definition of the ends to be realized. “The predominance of functional rationality is rather
detrimental to the institutional dimensions which are geared towards substantial rationality,” Zijderveld
argues (p.95).
The concept of organization is economic and administrative, the concept of institution is sociological.
The organizational dimension gives an organization economic legitimacy and trustworthiness. From the
perspective of “organization,” the focus is on societal values, but only from the perspective of a
functional rationality that is instrumental to economic and administrative reasoning. From the perspective
of “institution,” societal values are the bottom line. That is why only the institutional dimension gives an
organization societal legitimation and trustworthiness. In most current communication management
theories, only the economic dimension of legitimation is in use. The question is does this economic
concept suffice? To address this we need to differentiate further between the two dimensions.
Institutions are traditional and collective patterns of behavior, ways of acting, thinking, and feeling.
“Social behavior is essential for the survival of human beings, while institutions – as traditional patterns
of behavior – ensure, by taking for granted the order and security needed for actions to be successful”
(Zijderveld, 2000:16). Zijderveld echoes Gehlen, a German sociologist from the beginning of the last
century, who claimed that institutions can be seen as universal, perhaps even biologically determined,
competence structures, while institutes are their specific historical and cultural realizations. “When
people live together in groups and set out to divide the labor needed in order to survive, basic institutions
will emerge” (p.37), and they emerge in certain realities, or institutes, which are the empirical realizations
of these patterns within a specific history and culture. For example, a corporation is the realization of the
institution “economy,” an administration is the realization of the institution “state.” Institutes come and
go, institutions are more lasting; they are ways of acting, thinking, and feeling, realized in historically and
culturally-rooted institutes. From this point of view, we can argue that the organizational dimension is an
empirical realization of the more fundamental, societally-rooted institutional dimension. For short-term
survival the organizational dimension is important, while for long-term survival the institutional
dimension is more important.
Institutes are thus creations of human beings, established to survive as social entities. As a consequence
they only exist as long as they are seen as meaningful by their society. What a society considers as
meaningful (i.e., socially legitimate) is a social construction itself, based in the dynamic structure of the
empirical realizations of its institutions.
3.2. Societal legitimation as an organizational constraint


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