Strategic Decision-Making for Public Relations: Determining the Importance of Contingency Theory Factors Through a Conjoint Analysis

Abstract: This study uses a novel approach, the conjoint analysis, as a way to investigate the interactions between three factor groupings of the contingency theory variables that are relevant for public relations practitioners when they engage in strategic decision-making. This study’s approach offers unique perspectives and insights into the decision-making process—both furthering the contingency theory itself and offering unique understandings of the interactions between respondent variables (e.g., gender, experience, etc.) and the role those variables play in informing how practitioners develop an organization’s stance. It was found that the covariates, namely gender, ethics and social responsibility, whistleblowing, and over 20 years in the communications field are statistically influential for the decision-making process. These interactions are contingent on the three contingency theory factorial groups investigated in this study, external threats, organization characteristics, and dominant coalition characteristics. The implications for public relations decision-making, contingency theory, and statistical techniques are discussed.
Taylor Voges (Grady PhD Student), Yan Jin, Xianyan Chen, and Bryan Reber.