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Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Pacific Access Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)



First Advisor

Carol Ann Hackley

First Committee Member

Jon F. Schamber

Second Committee Member

Qingwen Dong


Largely developed as a professional occupation in the United States throughout the 20111 century, public relations now faces several changes and challenges as more American organizations venture onto the international landscape during the 21 st century. This study examined the evolution of public relations into an international practice, considering whether strategies and tactics are affected by cultural differences.

The view that cultures can have an effect on the individual, communication processes and organizational practices is based on Hofstede's cultural dimensions. Palanca is a term used in Latin American societies, referring to the use of personal influence on one's behalf by relatives or friends. Guanxi, or personal connection, is a traditional practice of relationship marketing in the Chinese community. The literature review for the study examined the connection between cultural dimensions and this conceptualization of social networking in Latin America and China. The study investigated the effects of social networking on public relations practitioners in Latin America and China using a 15-item questionnaire conducted through email and telephone interviews. The analysis sought to determine how culturally-based social networking influences socialization, business practices, ethics and public relations strategies.

The results for research question one indicated that palanca and guanxi were very similar in the cultural dimensions of individualism-collectivism and power distance; both are high collectivist and high power distance. They exhibited similarities related to uncertainty avoidance, though Latin America is high in uncertainty avoidance and China is medium. The two cultures differed along the dimensions of masculinity-femininity and long-term orientation. Research question two addressed business ethics related to culture. While practitioners did encounter ambiguous or unethical situations, their actions were largely dictated by the ethical standards and codes of their organizations. Research question three discussed public relations strategies and tactics. Public relations strategies were viewed as very similar to the U.S., regardless of where the respondents were based. Practitioners in both Latin America and China emphasized managing relationships as a vital component of public relations efforts. However, practitioners in China found media relations and the flow of communication to be underdeveloped in comparison to the U.S.



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