10.4185/RLCS-2018-1280en | ISSN 1138 - 5820 | RLCS, 73-2018 | |
Strategy and Public Relations: a Bibliometric Comparative Study
Translation of abstract by M. Comte-Pujol
Translation of paper by Yuhanny Henares
Bibliometrics consist of the application of quantitative techniques to the study of documents’ bibliographic features (Castillo & Xifra, 2006: 147).
Literature specialized in bibliometrics is quite abundant. The following authors outstand, among many others: Beniger (1990); Bornmann and others(2008); Brody and others (2007); Bunz (2005); Burnham (1990); Butler (2008); Campbell (2008); Clarke (2007); Cope & Kalantzis (1993, 2010); Cope, Kalantzis & Magee (2011); Cope & Phillips (2013); Craig & Ferguson (2013); Davies (2009); De Solla Price (1965); Dewatripont and others(2006); Edlin & Rubinfeld (2004); Evans (2008); Ferreira et al. (2016); Fink & Bourne (2007); García-Guinea & Sota Rius (1998); Ginsparg (2007); González Quirós & Martín (2009); Guédon (2001); Hannay (2007); Harnad (2009); Harzing & Van Der Wal (2008); Jakubowicz (2009); Jefferson, Wager & Davidoff (2002); Judson (1994); Kousha & Thelwall (2007); Koehler (2001); Lee & Bero (2006); López Baena and others(2005); López Piñero (1972); Mabe & Amin (2002); Mccabe and others(2006); Meho, 2007; Morris (2009); Noyons and others(2009); Norris & Oppenheim (2007); Osca-Lluch and others(2009); Pauly & Stergiou (2008); Pritchard (1969); Schroeder (2007); Simons (2008); Stanley, 2007; Suber, 2007; Tenopir & King (2009); Todd & Ladle (2008); Van De Sompel & Lagoze (2007); Van Leeuwen (2001); Wilbanks (2007); or Willinsky (2006).
The disruption of Internet and social networks, as well as the digitization of texts, the construction of open access infrastructures and the growth of the number of repositories, grosso modo coincide with the start of the XXI century, it has increased the interest and debate about the creation and exchange of scientific production (Cope & Kalantzis, 2009: n/e).
Over time, bibliometrics production specialized and delimited its study object. Thus, we identified papers about communication (So, 1988; Paisley, 1989; Cáceres & Caffarel, 1993; Jones, 1997; Lauf, 2005; Lievrouw, 1990; Martínez Nicolás, 2009; Castillo & Carretón, 2010; Castillo & Rubio, 2010; Castillo-Esparcia et al., 2012; Roca-Correa & Pueyo-Ayhan, 2012; Martínez-Nicolás & Saperas-Lapiedra, 2016; Compte-Pujol et al., 2016) and also specific studies about public relations (Pasadeos & Renfro, 1989, 1992; Pasadeos et al.; Sallot et al.,2003; Xifra & Castillo, 2006; Ki & Shin, 2006; Castillo & Xifra, 2006; Pasadeos et al., 2010; Fussell et al., 2013; Míguez et al., 2014; Kim et al., 2014; Marca et al., 2014; Míguez-González et al., 2016; among others).
On October 2016, Thomson Reuters enforced the sales of its business of intellectual property and sciences to several investment funds affiliated with Onex Corporation and Baring Private Equity Asia. This way, the platform known as Web of Knowledge (WoK) with Thomson Reuters, comprised by a wide portfolio of bibliographic data, citations and references of scientific publications about any discipline of knowledge (scientific, technological, humanistic and sociological), changed its name to Clarivate Analytics. A new company that will keep including brands such as Web of Science (WoS), Cortellis, Thomson Innovation, Derwent World Patents Index, Thomson CompuMark, MarkMonitor, Thomson IP Manager and Techstreet, among others.
Considering the academic prestige achieved by WoK and the WoS data base in recent times (Cope & Kalantzis, 2009: n/e), researchers of the five continents try to public their works in journals included in their data bases (McNutt, 2014), turning the platform into the most outstanding display that allows observing the main study object topics in every discipline and period, as well as its evolution through time and develop comparative studies.
2. Theoretical framework
According to Matilla and others (2015), the term “public relations” (RP) appears documented for the first time in the United States of America in 1882 (Goldman, 1948: 2; Chaumely & Huisman, 1963: 8; Cutlip, 1995: 208) and, in Europe, it was used for the first time in Germany in 1937 (Nessmann, 1995: 151-160). Its practice in the old communist countries date back to 1989 (Moloney, 2000: 40).
PR, both from their academic and professional orientation, are considered an independent functional area in the specialized literature and this directive categorization of the praxis is directly linked to its strategic orientation (Prat Gaballí, 1958; Matrat, 1970: 27, 37-49; Arnaldi, 1971: 217; Ugeux, 1973: 32-33; Ledigham & Bruning, 2000; Van Ruler, 2000; Van Ruler and others,2000, 2004; Van Ruler & Verčič, 2002, 2004).
From the application to management and business administration point of view, in the 2011 edition of the macro-study ECM-European Communication Monitor (http://www.zerfass.de/ECM-WEBSITE/ECM-2011.html) it is revealed that the participation of PR and communication professionals in directive levels or the possibility for accountability to the CEO-Chief Executive Officer are key aspects when it comes to evaluate the hierarchical responsibility and the power the department receives from the top management. 60% of the total of participants of ECM-2011 stated to directly report to the CEO and 17% to another member of the administration council. El 41.7% of European respondents had responsibility over the totality of the communication management and the relationship with stakeholders (interest groups). Most (55%) declared to be responsible of, at least, three communication fields, while 10% was limited to the relationships with media and external communication. 87% of Spanish respondents considered that the functional area of communication played a relevant role in the global performance of its organization, when generating financial and intangible assets (70% in Spain; 47.9% in the rest of Europe). Almost 70% of Spanish participants of the ECM-2011 considered that the main challenge the professional collective needed to face was the digital evolution and the social web – an issue that had increased 30 points in the preceding five years-, followed by a greater connection of communication strategies with the business strategies (58%), the new evaluation methods (29%) and globalization (26.1%).
The British study State of the Profession Survey (2014) by Chartered Institute of PR-CIPR (http://www.cipr.co.uk/content/about-us/our-organisation), shows that, in the United Kingdom, a 70% of the 2.531 respondents considered that the essential function of their tasks focused in the design and execution of the communication annual strategic plan, that must offer added-value to organizations.
From the PR’s directive perspective and hence, strategic, we were interested in knowing what was the scientific production indicated in WoS, and identify the papers that managed strategy in specialized journals in PR and, in a parallel manner, those of the journals specialized in management that applied PR to their contents and to confirm whether there existed alignments or divergencies between both and, likewise, consistencies with the reference literature.
3. Research questions
The main objective in the double research was: (1) to know whether in the sample of journals of PR object of study, the strategic perspective of the discipline was considered, and (2) whether on management journals specialized in strategy, there were specific contents about PR published, between 01.01.00 and 15.07.15 in all cases.
As secondary objectives we proposed to know: (a) the years where the greatest number of papers was published; (b) gender issues about authors of analyzed papers; (c) number of authors per paper; and (d) titles of papers, to identify topics managed.
Twelve (12) research questions to answer to the different analysis variables that allowed achieving said objectives:
For the selection of the sample of the journals specialized in PR, we looked in the universe of the seventy-eight (78) journals catalogued in the SSCI–Communication–Journal List database the ones including the words “public relations” or “PR” in their heading or title. We identified two (2) journals that met this requirement: Public Relations Review (also indexed in Scopus) and Journal of Public Relations Research, on which “Many previous meta-analyses studied that examined research trends in public relations exclusively employed these two as their sample” (Seon-Kyoung & I-Huei, 2012: 71).
We proceeded identically with the universe of the one hundred eighty-eight (188) journals of SSCI–Management–Journal List in which title or heading there were the terms “strategy” or “strategic”. Eleven (11) journals complied with these conditions and were added to the sample: Business Strategy and the Environment; Global Strategy Journal; Journal of Economics Management Strategy; Journal of Family Business Strategy (n=4 for the term “strategy”); Advances in Strategic Management–A Research Annual; International Journal of Strategic Property Management; Journal of Strategic Information Systems; Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal; Strategic Organization; Strategic Management Journal; and Technology Analysis & Strategic Management (n=7 for the term “strategic”).
All the searches were done from July 20 to July 23, 2015.
After identifying the journals, we performed a search through the specific browsers of each one of their official websites. We stablished search parameters in the paper’s title, in abstracts and in keywords. Said parameters were “strategy” and “strategic” for the journals specialized in PR -we didn’t consider words derived thereof, such as “strategically” o “strategies”, despite that in some cases they also appeared in analyzed papers-, and “public relations” and “PR” for the journals specialized in strategy -in the Journal of Family Business Strategy we identified the parameter “PR” on different occasions. Evidencing that it referred to the acronym “Performance Related” papers were discarded, not being included in the study -.
The temporary search parameter was delimited to the time period ranged from January 1, 200 and July 15, 2015. The start of the delimitation is justified for the fact that the specialized literature positions at the break of dawn of the new millennium, the broadest development of the academic and professional interest for the strategic praxis of PR and because, from the bibliometrics perspective, it is also there were the massive incorporation to the digital era and digitization of academic journals positions (Cope & Kalantzis, 2009: n/e).
The search of the analysis units was done using the WoS website, in English for the terms of analysis variables, because “the role of English is the major language of modern day science” (Van Leeuwen, 2001: 344), therefore “In 1995, for example, English made up over 95% of publications in the Science Citation Index” (Tardy, 2004: 250), becoming the lingua franca (Yukio, 1992: n/e). Once the journals were determined, the following searches were done from their respective corporate websites, also in English. Subsequently, the papers’ lists were debugged, eliminating duplicities.
Through the content analysis (Krippendorff, 2004; Wimmer & Dominick, 1996) papers’ analysis variables were transferred to a designed ad hoc template, including: (a) journal’s name; (b) volume, number and publication year, (c) authors’ name and surname, (d) authors’ gender, and (e) title of the paper. They were selected following the methodology and bibliographic parameters inspired in Koehler (2001); Castillo & Xifra (2006); Castillo & Carretón (2010); and Marca and others (2014).
5. Methodology limitations
The websites of the totality of journals allow to visualize the research’s analysis variables, except the Journal of Public Relations Research, which does not offer keywords in its papers. On the websites of the journals Public Relations Review and Strategic Management Journal authors’ first names are shown only with their initials, which obliged to perform an individual supplementary search of each one of them through Google and Google Academics browsers (Kousha & Thelwall, 2007; Schroeder, 2007; Harzing & Van Der Wal, 2008) to complete the gender issues [see column 2 of Table 1, Table 2 and Table 6].
In the descriptive analysis of the double study the results are presented included in tables elaborated by the authors and together with a written description -numeric and in percentages- to make understanding easier.
Table 1. The term “strategy” in Public Relations Review. https://issuu.com/marc532/docs/tabla_1_5961b28fce4543
Table 2. The term “strategic” in Public Relations Review. https://issuu.com/marc532/docs/tabla_2_9aa1838d09af53
Table 3. The term “strategy” in Journal of Public Relations Research.
Table 4. The term “strategic” in Journal of Public Relations Research.
Table 5. The terms “public relations” and “PR” in the “strategy” journals.
Table 6. The terms “public relations” and “PR” in the “strategic” journals.
6.1. Results of the terms “strategy” and “strategic” in the public relations journals
6.1.2. Journal of Public Relations Research
6.2.2. “Strategic” journals
7. Discussion and conclusions
The research results provide answers to the research questions: there are two journals specialized in PR (2): Public Relations Review y Journal of Public Relations Research (PI1) and those specialized on strategy are eleven (11): Global Strategy Journal; Business Strategy and the Environment; Journal of Economics Management Strategy; Journal of Family Business Strategy; Advances in Strategic Management–A Research Annual; Journal of Strategic Information Systems; International Journal of Strategic Property Management; Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal; Strategic Organization; Strategic Management Journal; and Technology Analysis & Strategic Management (PI2).
There is an abundant consideration of the strategic perspective in the papers of the PR journals (PI3), while the treatment of PR in management journals specialized on strategy is practically nonexistent (PI4), because in the later we only identified 3 papers, out of which 2 handle PR in a tangential or anecdotic manner. We could speculate that, either the totality of identified researchers prefer to publish in the journals of their field, or editors of management journals are not inclined to accept for review papers about main subjects that are distant from management or business administration, as Tardy mentioned (2004: 250): “discourse patterns do not follow the expectations of the gatekeepers, they are more likely to be viewed as non-standard and to be excluded from publication (Bhatia, 1997 & Kaplan, 2001)”.
The time periods when a greater number of papers was published on journals specialized in PR were the years 2012 (“strategy”, 16-15, 68%) and 2014 (“strategic”, 18-17, 14%) for Public Relations Review. And the years 2006, 2008 and 2010 (“strategy” 4-14, 28%) and 2009, 2013 and 2014 (“strategic” 3, 16,66%) for Journal of Public Relations Research (PI5). In Public Relations Review no article was published in the years 2001 and 2006, and in Journal of Public Relations Research the years 2001, 2002, 2003, 2007, 2010 and 2015 (up to 15.07.15). The scarce presence of papers about PR in the eleven (11) journals specialized on strategy do not allow to extract significant conclusions regarding the periods with a higher number of papers published (PI6).
The gender distribution in Public Relations Review is 92 (46.03%) men and 109 (53.69%) women for “strategy”; and 82 (39.23%) men and 127 (60.76%) women for “strategic”. In Journal of Public Relations Research, it is 19 (38.00%) men and 31 (62.00%) women for “strategy” and 24 (53.33%) men and 21 (46.66%) women for “strategic”. Female authors are prevalent in the group of authors of these two journals (except in the last case), in contradiction with Castillo & Carretón (2010: 310), who identified a supremacy of male authors in their study. Data are not coherent with the gender parity of Spanish journals studied by MÍguez, Baamonde & Corbacho (2014), except in the last case, where it is complied with (PI7). Neither in this occasion it is possible to extract significant conclusions about the authors’ gender of the eleven (11) journals specialized on strategies due to the very scarce volumes published (PI8), although we highlight that the male authorship is complete.
The prevalence of the number of authors by paper in specialized journals on PR is 2 authors (48-47, 05%) for “strategy” and 1 author (48-45, 71%) for “strategic” in Public Relations Review and of 1 author (13-46, 42%) for “strategy” and 2 authors (7-38, 88%) for “strategic” in Journal of Public Relations Research, consistent with Koehler (2001: 122) -1,8 authors in the decade of 1990- and with Castillo & Carretón (2010: 317) -2 authors in 90.00% of cases- (PI9). Regarding the scarce number of authors (4) out of the 3 scarce papers of the 11 journals specialized on strategy it is not possible to extract significant conclusions (PI10).
The titles of papers of journals specialized in PR are allocated in the fifth column of Tables 1, 2, 3 and 4 (PI11) and of the papers of journals specialized on strategy are described in the fifth column of Tables 5 and 6 (PI12).
The bibliometrics analysis shows that the treatment of the strategy applied to PR is very abundant in the two journals specialized in PR, which confirms the reference literature regarding the interest shown by the authors of the sample due to the directive function of PR professionals as heads of an independent department (Prat Gaballí, 1958; Matrat, 1970: 27, 37-49; Arnaldi, 1971: 217; Ugeux, 1973: 32-33; Ledigham & Bruning, 2000; Van Ruler, 2000; Van Ruler and others2000, 2004; Van Ruler & Verčič, 2002, 2004) and, subsequently, regarding their functional limits and their level of responsibility in the design and the execution of the strategic communication plan and their contribution of the corporate strategic plan; about the accountability process and to whom report them hierarchically; as well as its possible Integration in the management committee, consistent with results of the studies ECM-European Communication Monitor (2011) and State of the Profession Survey (2014).
Nevertheless, the interest shown by authors of management journals specialized on strategy points to the opposite direction, because we do not observe that the debate regarding the PR department and the functions and responsibilities of its managerial staff, from any of its possible perspectives regarding business administration in its broader sense, has a similar correspondence in the very scarce, otherwise almost nonexistent papers identified.
Likewise, the interest for other possible thematic orientations of PR of a more general scope and not exclusively focused in the management of communication is confirmed, almost null as well (except, perhaps, of Crawford, 2009) and even though the scarce results do not allow to extract significant conclusions from a statistical perspective, we say that, based on empirical evidence, PR do not constitute the main topic treated, which might have its logic in the fact that none of the authors of the papers is specialist in that field.
On future researches we intent to perform methodologically identical studies, with wider study samples, such as Scopus; or Latindex, RESH and IN-RECS (*) -not in English language (Van Leeuwen, 2001; Yukio, 1992)-, to obtain evidences and develop, subsequently, successive comparative studies and to identify possible deviations, if any, as a result of the linguistic diversity (Tardy, 2004).
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How to cite this article in bibliographies / References
M Compte-Pujol, K Matilla, S Hernández (2018): “Strategy and Public Relations: a Bibliometric Comparative Study”. Revista Latina de Comunicación Social, 73, pp. 748 a 764.
Article received on 18 January 2018. Accepted on 15 April.