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Ethnocentricity in Public Relations

Education and Training: A Critique

Krishnamurthy Sriramesh

Professor of Public Relations

School of Business
Massey University
Wellington, New Zealand

Relations Art or Science?
Ethnocentricity in PR BoK
Conceptual Framework as remedy
Culture broadly defined
Framework Applied in three projects
The Future for the Framework and
research contributing to a holistic BoK

What is Public Relations?

Nomenclature Problem: PR? Comm. Mgmt?
Corporate Comm? Organizational Comm?
Public Information? Public Affairs?
PR as Art: Hospitality relations, Celebrity
PR as Science: I see it as PR AND Science!
Research - informed public relations (with a
holistic perspective including all methodologies
and perspectives)

IPR: Science beneath the Art of public relations

Ethnocentricity in the BoK


of Knowledge of PR is only about 30

years old
An analysis of 4,141 books and articles
on public relations in 1976 found only 63
with ANY research component
Its development has been ethnocentric
(albeit slowly changing in recent years)
Culture not mentioned in PRSAs (1988) Body of
European BoK only began in 2002


perspectives key to a holistic BoK

Ethnocentricity in the BoK

Public relations values, ethics, rhetorical theories
based mostly on Greek philosophy silence
from most other ancient cultures such as China
and India that also have rich traditions
PRSA Port of Entry Report
to determine the knowledge and skills
needed by practitioners in a technological,
multicultural, and global society and then
recommend learning outcomes in the new
12 necessary knowledge factors
20 necessary skills for public relations

Ethnocentricity in the BoK

JPRRs special issue titled: Public Relations

Values [emphasis added] in the New
Co-editors Toth and Pavlik rightly contended:
Professions are based on values and a body of
knowledge to teach and enhance values.
But essays in issue made only one reference to
PR training and teaching are based mostly on
Western practice (replication) and knowledge
(textbooks translated verbatim)
Languages role in limiting dissemination of
knowledge (German scholarship, Latin America)

Diffusion of PR agencies
around the world

Disparity in the diffusion of PR

The diffusion of PR agencies illustrates the
disparity in distribution of at least commercial PR
PR profession has mostly followed the money
trail and is absent where it is most needed
Example: wisdom form the work of NGOs and
even govt. PR has not been integrated into the
PR pedagogy adequately
This has hurt the reputation of the profession often perceived as spin doctoring
Need holistic framework for practice and

Framework Applied

Culture broadly defined


Culture: Diverse languages,

customs, and religions
Hofstedes dimensions of culture (limiting)
Media Culture: Control, Access, Outreach
Political/Legal Culture
Economic System: Level of Development
Activist Culture
Variables interlinked as evident in case

Some Cases

in the Forbidden City

Songhua River Chemical Spill
Xiamen Chemical Plant
India: We want computer chips and not
potato chips
Coca Cola/Pepsi/KFC
What is the remedy?

Current Studies

PR practitioners activities
USA, UK, Sweden, Singapore,
Underway in Brazil, NZ,
Italy and Kyrgystan to follow...
Generic principles of PR in S Korea,
Singapore, with Italy to follow
Customer Service and culture in Singapore

Is there A Global Theory of

Public Relations?

a large extent, this is still a good

conceptual framework
However that normative framework is yet
to be tested internationally and refined
based on empirical evidence
This is where I see potential for crossnational collaboration among scholarteachers

Is there A Global Theory of

Public Relations?

ultimate goal should be to have an

empirically tested model of public relations
that has predictive capabilities especially
as professionals enter newer markets
Only when PR professionals can use such
a model to predict how they should
conduct public relations in a given region
can we claim that we have a global theory
of public relations