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Public Relations and Neo-institutional theory
Göteborgs universitet, JMG.
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Informatics and Media.
2013 (English)In: Public Relations Inquiry, ISSN 2046-147X, Vol. 2, no 3, 183-203 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This special section seeks to enrich research on the field by using neo-institutional theory to describe, explain and understand the activities, processes and dynamics of public relations. By this we open up for a wider understanding of public relations, its preconditions, its performances and its consequences for shaping the social. We argue that public relations could be analyzed as an institutionalized practice with certain set of governing mechanisms including taken-for-granted activities, rules, norms and ideas. Here neo-institutional theory is well situated as it is a tradition where communication is put at fore in the understanding of organizations, institutions and society. Another argument for this is recent developments where public relations and other forms of organizational communication have been examined as a major dimension of organizing in some of the more profound works among neo-institutional theorists.

The article starts with a discussion of earlier work in the tradition of neo-institutional theory were  a lot of  attention was paid to the governing mechanisms of institutions and how they control the behaviour of actors. A perspective leading to some fundamental challenges where the primary objections were raised against the over-determinism neo-institutional researchers ascribed institutions. Taking these objectives seriously has served as a source of extensive theoretical and empirical puzzles characterizing many of the contemporary efforts – most of them explicitly emphasizing the role of communication and symbolical/rethorical means as essential in all institutional processes. Among these we find three streams we find relevant and fruitful for analyses of public relations: institutional logics, translation and institutional work. These themes are further developed in text and discussed in releationship to what implications they have on public relations research. How an employment of the logic can help us gain a more profound understanding of public relations and communication as an institutional practice. How public relations function as a carrier and translator of institutions. How public relations is used to challenge and re-shape the foundations on which social actors interact with each other. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Sage Publications, 2013. Vol. 2, no 3, 183-203 p.
Keyword [en]
Public Relations, Institutional Theory, Institutional work, Translation, Institutional work
National Category
Media and Communications
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-179480DOI: 10.1177/2046147X13485956OAI: diva2:544862
Available from: 2013-01-04 Created: 2012-08-16 Last updated: 2016-08-12Bibliographically approved

Open Access in DiVA

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