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Exploring the Link Between the Concepts of Organization-Public Relationships and Organizational Reputations
Unformatted Document Text:  Tracking Number: ICA-15-10266 14 Nonetheless, the profession of public relation is still disregarded as “spin doctoring” (Fombrun, 1996, p. 139), and marginalized to a technical unit handing with publicity on behalf of “reputation management” (Fombrun, 1996, p. 197). Scholars in the Excellence study (1992) found that public relations is the strategic management function to develop and maintain quality and long-term relationships with key publics, and that the role of public relations is to support management of an organization for changing organizational behaviors in accordance with symbiotic relationships with these key publics. For this study, the term “reputation” will be conceptualized as “cognitive representations” that publics hold of an organization, following J. Grunig and Hung’s (2002) definition of reputation. Regarding the link between relationships and cognitive representations, J. Grunig and Hung (2002, p. 28) proposed the following two logical sequences according to publics’ level of involvement; the results of their study supported these propositions. When publics are involved with an organization (i.e., high involvement), they have experiential relationships; they hold experiential cognitive representations about the organization. In this case, strategic management, led by the public relations function, influences organizational behaviors, which affects the quality of relationships with key publics and, in turn, cognitive representations held by theses key publics. In the other sequence, when publics are not involved with an organization, they still have reputational cognitive representations about the organization, especially based on what they hear from the media. In this case, management behaviors, particularly unpopular and irresponsible behaviors, result in reputational cognitive representations, which lead to reputational relationships with low-involvement publics. These reputational relationships are, by and large, “speculative” perceptions that are not formed by direct experience. J. Grunig and Hung (2002) used the concepts of level of involvement and familiarity to identify key publics that are more likely to have experiential relationships with the organizations than reputational relationships. According to J. Grunig and Hunt (1984), level of involvement is defined as “the extent to which people connect themselves with a situation” (p. 152). About the way to measure the concept of “familiarity,” Bromley (2000) suggested: “Familiarity with an entity, such as a person or a company, can be studied simply by asking informants to list as many companies of a given sort, such as hotel chains, supermarkets or construction companies, as they can within, say, a two-minute period” (pp. 249-250). For this study, instead of participants’ level of involvement and familiarity, participants’ degree of “experience” with the case organization is used to differentiate

Authors: Yang, SungUn. and Mallabo, Jose.
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Tracking Number: ICA-15-10266
14
Nonetheless, the profession of public relation is still disregarded as “spin doctoring”
(Fombrun, 1996, p. 139), and marginalized to a technical unit handing with publicity on
behalf of “reputation management” (Fombrun, 1996, p. 197). Scholars in the Excellence
study (1992) found that public relations is the strategic management function to develop and
maintain quality and long-term relationships with key publics, and that the role of public
relations is to support management of an organization for changing organizational behaviors
in accordance with symbiotic relationships with these key publics.
For this study, the term “reputation” will be conceptualized as “cognitive
representations” that publics hold of an organization, following J. Grunig and Hung’s (2002)
definition of reputation. Regarding the link between relationships and cognitive
representations, J. Grunig and Hung (2002, p. 28) proposed the following two logical
sequences according to publics’ level of involvement; the results of their study supported
these propositions. When publics are involved with an organization (i.e., high involvement),
they have experiential relationships; they hold experiential cognitive representations about
the organization. In this case, strategic management, led by the public relations function,
influences organizational behaviors, which affects the quality of relationships with key
publics and, in turn, cognitive representations held by theses key publics.
In the other sequence, when publics are not involved with an organization, they still
have reputational cognitive representations about the organization, especially based on what
they hear from the media. In this case, management behaviors, particularly unpopular and
irresponsible behaviors, result in reputational cognitive representations, which lead to
reputational relationships with low-involvement publics. These reputational relationships are,
by and large, “speculative” perceptions that are not formed by direct experience.
J. Grunig and Hung (2002) used the concepts of level of involvement and familiarity
to identify key publics that are more likely to have experiential relationships with the
organizations than reputational relationships. According to J. Grunig and Hunt (1984), level
of involvement is defined as “the extent to which people connect themselves with a situation”
(p. 152). About the way to measure the concept of “familiarity,” Bromley (2000) suggested:
“Familiarity with an entity, such as a person or a company, can be studied simply by asking
informants to list as many companies of a given sort, such as hotel chains, supermarkets or
construction companies, as they can within, say, a two-minute period” (pp. 249-250).
For this study, instead of participants’ level of involvement and familiarity,
participants’ degree of “experience” with the case organization is used to differentiate


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