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Government and Corporate Communication Practices Essay

“This study investigates the differences and similarities in communication practices between the public and private sectors. (Horsley, 2010) Being able to analyze the results of the investigation is important. It could possibly lead to break through ideas that could save money if the communication practice is carefully implemented. This paper shall analyze a study done using 976 surveys. The surveys were distributed and completed by many different corporate communicators and government agencies. Budget wise, results from the survey were different between private and public sectors. “No significant differences in diversity of publics, opportunities for professional development, participation in organizational leadership, or management support for communication between the two groups were found.” (Horsley, 2010) The findings allowed agencies to change policies in order for the model to work with the proposed budget.

“Specifically, through a survey of 976 government communicators (n=640) and corporate public relations practitioners communicators (n=336), this study tests whether the wheel accurately identifies fundamental differences in how public relations is practiced in the two sectors within a US context.” (Horsley, 2010) The public sector provided a model of communication decision-making. The model utilizes nine attributes that are demonstrated in the public sector environment. This carries the notion that the two sectors are distinguished based on nine environmental attributes: value of communication, federalism, leadership opportunities, legal frameworks, media scrutiny, public perception, professional development, and public good.

“The survey sample was 2525 US government communicators and corporate communicators. The study defined government communicators as current government employees or contractors at the local, state, or federal level, or for “quasigovernmental” agencies such as public utilities partnerships, Whose primary responsibilities are communicating internally or externally to various publics regarding agencyldepart- ment/office policies, decisions, or actions and/or guiding cornrnunication strategy.” (Horsley, 2010) In the study 12 hypotheses were tested in all. A mail and online survey of US government and corporate communicators between April and June 2008 was the target area to be tested. Corporate communicators was defined as “current employees or contractors of companies and corporations whose primary responsibilities are communicating internally or externally to various publics regarding company/department policies, decisions, or actions, and/or guiding communication strategy.” (Horsley, 2010)

The survey instrument was developed from a previous research on the government communication decision wheel, operationalizing the wheel’s theoretical constructs as originally proposed by Liu and Horsel. The survey was 68 questions in length. It consisted of questions focused on daily communications activities, relationships with primary publics and the media, the influence of politics on communications work, satisfaction with professional development opportunities, and respondent/employer demographics. (Horsel, 2002)

The results of this study will lead to new programs being developed. With these new improved programs, both the private and public sector can benefit from the money saved in implementation of the programs. More significantly, the results found four factors that have similar impact on how communication is practices in the two sectors: The first would be diversity of primary publics. The second is availability of professional development opportunities. The third is management team membership. The final fourth factor would be management support for communication.

“Political science and public administration scholars incorporated the public sector’s unique attributes into their research and theory development more than 30 years ago” (Appleby, 1973) The findings show that innovative models are necessary in order to complement existing theoretical frameworks. “It is time for communication scholars to catch up, providing a better link between government communication practices, applied communication research, and theoretical development.” (Keyton, 2009) This proposes that the two sectors are behind in communication practices. Being able to implement new innovative method can be rather expensive and cause a budget to go over. Being able to provide the best communication practices, while maintaining a well-organized budget is very difficult to do. This is why it is important for practices to be backed with empirical data showing success. Sometimes, a budget will now allow much room for failure. This is one of the prime reasons why programs are constantly changing. There are not many communication practices that are able to withstand the dynamic factors that may be presented.


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