Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Mass Communications

Major Professor

Derina Holtzhausen, D. Litt. et Phil.

Committee Member

Kelly Page Werder, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Randy Miller, Ph.D.


simple, functional, hybrid, network, matrix, multi-divisional, virtual, expert prescriber, communication facilitator, problem-solving process facilitator, communication technician


While there exists extensive research in the area of public relations roles, as well as the arena of organizational structure, little research focuses on the relationship between organizational structure and the role of the public relations practitioner in the organization.

This study will provide a review of the different types of organizational structures, as well as a review of public relations practitioner roles. Organization theory literature supplies information on the characteristics of each structure, including levels of complexity and decentralization involved in each organizational type. Public relations literature includes research that aids in formulation of role classifications that may be assumed by the practitioner.

There exists little research on organizational structure as it relates to public relations. The importance of this study lies in its ability to expand both organizational theory and roles research in public relations by examining organizational factors that may contribute to role performance by the communications practitioner. The lack of a linkage between organizational structure and public relations practice has resulted in limited understanding of the ways in which structure influences organizational communications practices.

The results of this study indicated that relationships do exist between organizational structures and public relations roles. Additional findings reveal relationships between the tasks commonly associated with the public relations roles of expert prescriber, communication facilitator, problem-solving process facilitator, and communication technician which differ from previous research. This study resulted in a low response rate (N = 100), which must be taken into account when examining the results of the survey.

The significance of this study lies in its ability to illustrate to public relations practitioners the importance of understanding the organizational structures in which they work, so they may better adapt their public relations practice to fill the communication needs of the organization.