Title

Internet Communication: An Examination of Its Effects On Communication Satisfaction and Organizational Credibility

Author

Cheng-tao Liu

Date of Award

1997

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Mass Communication and Journalism

First Advisor

Kathryn Theus

Advisor Department

Mass Communication and Journalism

Abstract

This study examined satisfaction with organizational communication and organization credibility as a result of Internet-based public relations communication with their public. Grunig's (1984) models of public relations (i.e., press agentry or publicity, public information, two-way asymmetry, and two-way symmetry) were applied as a theoretical foundation for examining how organizations use the Internet to interact with their public. Also, several applicable Internet features were used to differentiate potential corporate Internet strategy as either a one-way or a two-way modes of communication with their public. These features included having a home page, e-mail, Usenet or forum, and chat rooms. Two outcomes of corporate Internet usage were examined and measured: communication satisfaction and organizational credibility. Communication satisfaction was also hypothesized to be dependent on Internet experience. Taken together, a conceptual model that showed theoretical relationships among these operational concepts was constructed and tested using a structural equation modeling approach. Based on the model that had the best statistical and theoretical fit to the data, findings indicated that asymmetry (strategic persuasion) related strongly to the use of one-way Internet strategy, but weakly to the use of two-way Internet strategy. Symmetric practice (mutual understanding) was found to be related directly and positively to the use of two-way Internet strategy. The press agentry or publicity (persuasion) practice was not found to be related directly to the use of one-way or two-way Internet strategy. Results also showed that the use of the two-way Internet strategy was related strongly to perceived communication satisfaction and related moderately to organizational credibility. In contrast, the use of one-way Internet strategy was found to be related directly and positively only to perceived organizational credibility, not communication satisfaction. This study did not find that Internet experience had a direct influence on perceived communication satisfaction. Finally, this study did not find a reciprocal relationship between constructs of communication satisfaction and organizational credibility. Only the path from satisfaction to credibility was found to be significant. However, in separate analyses, both constructs were found to have a strong linear relationship with each other.