ADJUSTMENT AND ADAPTATION
BROOM & SHA - Chapter 7
PR = management function building and maintaining relationships between the org and its
publics/stakeholders. These relationships are subject to change pressures through the
environment (socially, economically, technologically or politically speaking).
Careful assessment + tracking of those forces => org steer a safe and steady territory in the
THE ECOLOGICAL APPROACH
SOCIAL SYSTEMS PERSPECTIVE : interdependence org/environment.
PR’s job = helping the org to adjust and adapt to their environments.
PR counsellors monitor public opinion, social change, political movements, cultural
shifts, and technological developments.
Then they interpret these environmental factors and work with management to
develop strategic plans of organizational changes and responsiveness.
ALVIN TOFFLER: TECHNOLOGY-DRIVEN INFORMATION AGE . Revolution of info & communication =
as the social consequence of new communication systems.
PR must anticipate + monitor those changes in an org’s environment + help interpret
them to management.
CONSTANT environmental scanning required (extending vision, present & future
realities) time to pla.
Opportunity to bPROACTIVE instead of reactive to environmental changes.
Situational settings: Specific changes & forces: to be identified, studied, understood for
particular situations + organizational settings.
TRACKING THE TRENDS
The role of PR is to track and analyse the specific trends and forces at play in particular
situations that affect org-stakeholders//public relationships.
E.g.: the growing animal rights movement: prove how change pressures affect the org’s
ability to accomplish their missions. Cosmetics manufactures, medial research
laboratories, universities, meat packers, have to factor the view of this new activist force
into their decision-making. Tis activist is also winning the battle of PO, overwhelming
majority supporting animals rights and think it should be illegal to kill animals for fur or
in cosmetic research.
E.g.: education reform, as another change pressures. Deficiency of skills within the job
market => programs developed by companies (like Shell) to promote education among
the future employees.
1 E.g.: Global Warming concerns. “Protecting the environment”: major concern of
consumers. “Tappening campaign” of bottled-water.
Kerry TUCKER, Chairman of Nuffer, Smith, Tucker Inc. (consulting company in PR): “as
issues affecting your org arise, it is best to have a radar system in place that will help
management anticipate trends and issues likely to affect your org and its publics, rather
then waiting until it’s too late to do anything except react defensively”.
A SYSTEM PERSPECTIVE
A system = a set of interacting units (org + stakeholderthat endures throughtime within
an established boundary, by responding & adjusting to change pressures from the
environment to achieve & maintain goal states.
An org-public system= org + the people involved with it, affected by it: in interaction with it.
Publics here = abstractions defined by the PR manager applying the systems approach.
Situational: different public for different situations, with different system boundary.
Mutually beneficial relationships. PR: purposive & managed behaviour.
In some cases, goals can be achieved by simply maintaining existing relationships n the
face of changing conditions. More generally, org have to adapt to change to maintain the
relationships. Dynamic settings.
ENVIRONMENTAL CHANGE PRESSURES
Changes pressures on org- publics systems <= many environmental sources. The relationships
change around those. If they don’t, the relationship becomes dysfunctional, because
inappropriate reaction of the org’s.
If responses to environmental changes = unmanaged & nonpurposive => systems
degenerate => ENTROPY .
Coordinated behaviour to attain mutually beneficial goals: no longer possible => system breaks
SUBSYSTEMS AND SUPRASYSTEMS
The org itself is also a system with interacting units. Org exist in dynamic social settings.
They must modify internal processes & restructure themselves to respond to changing
environments. PR staff has to keep the org sensitive to envir. changes, anticipating + reacting to
The system perspective suggests that the definition of a system must be appropriate to the
concern to the problem-situation. A component – a subsystem – in one system may be analysed
itself in another context => a system defined as such for one purpose = component or
SUBSYSTEM in a higher-orderSUPRASYSTEM when the reason for he analysis changes.
2 James G. MILLER: immediate environment = suprasystem – system itself. To survive, the system
must interact with and adjust to its environment, the other parts of the suprasystem.
ORGANIZATIONS AS SYSTEMS
MILLER: “living systems” engage in exchange with their environments, producing changes in
PR is part of the adaptive subsystems, as distinct from the production, supportive-disposal,
maintenance and managerial subsystems.
Adaptive subsystems vary in their sensitivity to their environment: some org actively
monitor their social environments and make adjustments based on what they’ve learnt.
Several factors determine the amount of resources, time & effort an org devotes to monitoring
1. Degree of conflict or competition with the external environment,
2. Degree on dependence on internal support & unity.
3. Degree to which internal operations and external environment are believed to be
rationalized (characterized by predictable uniformities).
4. Size and structure of the org, heterogeneity of its members, diversity of goals.
OPEN & CLOSED SYSTEMS
CLOSED SYSTEMS have impermeable boundaries, so they can’t exchange matter o