Thursday, January 12, 2006

With all its Interrelationships

The Nobel Laureate and leading economist, Ronald Coasei (pictured left) made the case for the study and application of economics to change in his lecture to University of Missouri, (Coase 2002). He said “We do need empirical work, but we need something additional: empirical work which actually changes the way we look at the problem.” This thinking can also apply to considerations of Public Relations and its evaluation and there is a case for countering, what can be termed, in the style of Coase 'PR Imperialism'. There is a need to look beyond the current boundaries.

I choose Coase because he opened the door for public relations to become part of the the new thinking in economics. He said: “What I think is important is that economists don’t study the working of the economic system. That is to say, they don’t think they’re studying any system with all its interrelationships.”

The inclusion of the word interrelationships is significant. We see a distinguished economist, reflecting the Henley Centre view by extending economics into the wider cultural context. The cultural environment is a domain where Public Relations, in its many guises, is practised.

Obviously, an economist, whose biggest claim to fame is his assertion that organisations are a 'nexus of contracts' and whose new interests extend to interrelationships of organisations in terms of : “ large firms and small firms, differentiated firms and narrowly specialized firms, vertically integrated firms and those single-stage firms; you have in addition non-profit organizations and government entities – and all bound together, all operating to form the total system,” does not have a brief as wide as the apparent interest in relationship management found among Public Relations academics and practitioners. Never-the-less his assertion goes a long way towards the nature of Public Relations in its role of managing relationships by extending economics into this wider cultural context.

Such a consideration is becoming important as the practice of Public Relations becomes wider in its scope and responsibilities.

i Coase R (2002) Why Economics Will Change, sourced January 2006