Category Archives: Social theory

Corporate Dialogue Comes Head to Head with Economic Rationality

It has been a long winding road, but finally, the dialogue paper that I have written together with Abbey Levenshus is making it into print. This is the gist: Public relations has long been preoccupied with the notion of dialogue, and the advent of social media ushered in new enthusiasm. Still, despite the technology on offer and the fact that dialogue has become a value that “everyone” embraces, most research concludes that little actual dialogue takes place between corporations and their stakeholders. Scholars have pointed to a host of different factors to explain this, ranging from practitioners’ lack of time to their lack of understanding of what dialogue is. This paper discusses perspectives on corporate dialogue with a focus on the constraints identified in the literature, before presenting the main argument that not enough attention has been paid to the macro limits at the systemic level. The paper issues a call to locate dialogue attempts within a system where a limited economic rationality reigns, which, in turn, constrains what individual practitioners can achieve.

Ihlen, Ø., & Levenshus, A. (in press). Panacea, placebo or prudence: Perspectives and constraints for corporate dialogue. Public Relations Inquiry.

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Org.comm. and society

Piet Verhoeven (U of Amsterdam) and myself have just had an entry accepted for The International Encyclopedia of Organizational Communication (edited by Craig Scott and Laurie Lewis). Piet and I are rehearsing our ideas of the relationship between organizations and society, this time adding the literature on organizational  communication in to the mix. A growing strand of research has located organizations within the larger social context and addressed the role of communication in regards to issues of power and social change, as well as notions like legitimacy and reflection. The Encyclopedia is a part of a series linked to the International Communication Assosciation (ICA) and Wiley Blackwell. This particular volume will be published late 2016.

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Reputation, go!

The unstoppable Craig Carroll continues his quest on behalf of the corporate reputation construct. Previous installments have been the edited volumes Corporate reputation and the news media around the world. (Routledge, 2010) and Handbook of communication and corporate reputation (Wiley-Blackwell, 2013). Now under preparation: Encylopedia of corporate reputation (Sage, 2016). Not sure if it amounts to a pole position, but I have just had four entries approved: Rhetorical theory, framing theory, source credibility, and social theory. The latter with Piet Verhoeven (of course).

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Shaking it up with social theory

The latest issue of Communication Director has been on the streets for some days. Piet Verhoeven and I have a piece in there pushing the usefulness of social theory for practitioners and scholars alike. We argue that it is difficult to chastise public relations practitioners and theorists for keeping their noses to the ground and not taking a broader social theoretical perspective. There is, however, a pay off for those willing to think in broader terms, looking beyond what is immediately useful for an organization. Social theory can help provide a basic understanding of the societal role of the practice, and its ethical and political consequences.

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