Extending situational theory to internal publics : Q methodology within a strategic management process

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Guild, Justin M.
McDonald, Becky A.
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Thesis (M.A.)
Department of Journalism
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This Q study revealed how dominant coalition members of an Indianapolis, Ind. —based non-profit organization approached and interpreted problems within a strategic management process — a necessary area to study in pubic relations considering the dearth of research of internal publics within the field.The same forty-eight statement Q sort was used in two time periods to track movement of communication behavior among members: a pre-sort before the process and a post-sort at the end.Using a public relations theory, the situational theory of publics, as a framework, the Q sort was aligned with the theory's dependent variables of active and passive communication behavior. The data from the completed Q sorts was then entered into the PQMethod software. Four factors were identified in the pre-sort, and two factors were identified in the post-sort.Findings indicate that the four pre-sort groups lacked consensus in their behavior on how to approach problems. However, the two post-sort groups exhibited a change in behavior, showing consistency in their interpretation of problems. In the context of this research, dominant coalition members can be segmented by their communication behavior, not just by their positions inside an organization.