Ethics as a precursor to organization–public relationships: Building trust before and during the OPR model

Shannon A. Bowen*, Flora C J HUNG-BAESECKE, Regina Y R CHEN

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


This study builds on the public relations theory of organization–public relationships (OPRs) by exploring the role of ethics as a precursor to building OPRs. We qualitatively explore the existing relationship variables in the context of ethical behavior as a precursor to building authentic, long-term relationships with publics that will eventually benefit an organization’s effectiveness and reputation. These variables have not yet been explored in terms of ethics. We conducted elite interviews with public relations professionals of North America, Europe, and Asia who were either: (1) chief communications officers at the top of responsibility in the public relations function or (2) highly placed public relations professionals involved in the agency world who are in charge of regions or the heads of independent consultancies. Prior studies show that trust is a crucial variable of OPR and building on that foundation, we examine how ethics and trust are interrelated as part of complex relationships. Our research contributes to the foundation of ethics in building trust in both OPRs and the excellence theory within public relations. This study provides analysis and implications for the public relations industry in the use of ethics as a precursor to OPR, to build relationships between organizations and publics.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1141467
JournalCogent Social Sciences
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2016

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Social Sciences(all)

User-Defined Keywords

  • authenticity
  • ethics
  • excellence theory
  • public relations theory
  • strategic communication management
  • transparency
  • trust


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