Investigating the dimensions of an organizational characteristics scale

Sylvia Hall Goldman


Tying organizational goals to effective and measurable public relations planning and implementation is a subject of discussion among public relations scholars (e.g., Heath, 1994; Dozier, Grunig, & Grunig, 1995; Grunig, Grunig & Dozier, 2002). One challenge practitioners face is finding and maintaining a balance between compliance gaining and problem solving communication strategies. The challenge calls for organizations to be adaptable to the needs of its publics and responsive while maintaining a clear focus on achieving organizational goals (Tedeschi & Rosenfeld, 1993; Grunig et al. 2002). Achieving adaptability while maintaining focus on organizational goals requires more than generating messages as an end. An emphasis on communication production and dissemination can lead to a tendency to measure programmatic initiatives in terms of communication output rather than in relational or behavioral outcomes (Ledingham & Bruning, 2000). This study builds on relational theory by exploring organizational world view, coorientation with publics, flexibility in resolving issues with constituents and publics trust in the organization. This study focuses on two objectives: (1) develop a reliable and valid instrument that (a) identifies an organization's publics perceptions of the organization's willingness to coorient and be flexible in resolving issues, and (b) identifies characteristics of trust that are quantifiable, and (2) tests to confirm that identified relationships work in the ways suggested by literature. An important part of this study was working out the psychometric properties of the new instrument, called the Goldman Organizational Relations Scale (GORS). The concept of world view was explored primarily through the use qualitative methods. Dimensions of coorientation, flexibility and trust, derived from the literature, were explored with quantitative and qualitative methods. Survey results were tested using Cronbach Alpha Coefficients, confirmatory factor analysis, t-test of independent samples and Pearson correlations. Good estimates of validity and reliability were found. Based on results of statistical analysis an unanticipated factor emerged, one hypothesis was supported, one was partially supported and two hypotheses could not be tested with the study instrument.