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Translating Public Relations: A discussion of what organizational institutionalism has to offer to research on public relations
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Business Studies.
2016 (English)In: Handbook of Public Relations Theory and Methods / [ed] Coombs T. W., Holladay, S. J. & Dodd, M. D., Boston: Wiley-Blackwell, 2016Chapter in book (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

In this chapter we will discuss what organizational institutionalism has to offer public relations as a field of research. One aim to show how it can shed new light on already established issues, such as legitimacy for organizations and the PR-profession and the role of public relations in times of public scrutiny. Another is to show how it can offer new insights and provide concepts, models and theories not already established in the field. Among other things we will show how organizational institutionalism can help us understand why organizations are eager to adapt popular models (such as integrated communication and relationship management) and why they play out differently in different organizations.

An essential part of this discussion is to point out the critique organizational institutionalism has attracted for being over-deterministic in its view on social actors and their abilities to actively respond to and change institutionalized activities and ideas. Taking this critique seriously has served as a source of extensive theoretical advancement and among these developments the concept of translation is one of the more promising approaches especially if one wants to apply organizational institutionalism to public relations. Essential to this approach is that organizations actively select and transform general ideas and create something that suits their local context. Thus translation points out how public relations can be both an institutionally defined activity that follows taken-for-granted rules, norms and ideas about how to communicate and at the same time be a locally constructed activity that takes on different forms in different contexts. A translation approach thereby offers a toolbox that makes it possible for scholars to understand a) how and why public relations is practiced as it is b) what it is that motivates organizations to adapt certain strategies even though something else is perceived as best practice or more efficient and c) how this interplay with organizational as well as institutional conditions.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Boston: Wiley-Blackwell, 2016.
Keyword [en]
Institutional theory, public relations, communication, institutions, rules, norms
National Category
Social Sciences
Research subject
Media and Communication Studies; Business Studies
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-277206OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-277206DiVA: diva2:904070
Available from: 2016-02-17 Created: 2016-02-17 Last updated: 2016-02-17

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