STRATEGIC GOVERNMENT COMMUNICATION

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INTRODUCTION

Communication practice in relation to government communication reveals a lacuna in research and literature. Because of such scant literature, government communication as a practice is poorly understood (Pandey & Garnett, 2006:37). Given its significance, it is too important a challenge to ignore (Canel & Sanders, 2013). Government communication presents an inviting field for current and future research. Vos (2006:257) recommends future scholars to explore government communication practices and factors that influence them. The present study responds to such a call. The purpose of this study is to explore the extent to which the distinctive communication environment of the public sector affects the practice of communication management by government departments within the KwaZulu Natal province. In addition, the study investigates the extent to which government communication can be strategic, ethical, and distinctive.

BACKGROUND

Communication is in theory a fundamental prerequisite for democracy and it is in practice inseparable from how government operates (Young, 2008). The act of governance involves constant exchange of information and communication between the governors and the governed (Heinze, Schneider & Ferie, 2013:370). Accordingly, the scholarship on democracy and governance finds value in communication studies. However, a crisis in democracy is often cited in reference to declining public interest in politics, heightened cynicism about politics, politicians, and government. Young (2008) postulates that the poor quality of government communication is the main catalyst behind a dwindling interest in public participation, marginal legitimacy, and a poor reputation in many governments.
Political communication theorists as grand ancestors to the field predominantly influence the study of government communication. Political communication can be defined as the study of the role of communication in political processes (Kaid, 1996:443). According to this definition, government communication is a subset discipline in the field of political communication. The roots of government communication can be chronologically traced to its pedigree in political communication science. Government communication functions for the benefit of the citizen. It is supposed to remain balanced, concise, and non-partisan (Glenny, 2008:153). Political communication scholars have explored government communication issues from a variety of perspectives such as “rhetorical analysis of political discourse, propaganda studies, voting studies, mass media effect” and the interactions between government, press and public opinion (Canel & Sanders, 2013). Scholars such as Kaid (1996:443) and Young (2008) lament the preoccupation of political communication as a field predominated by voter persuasion paradigms.
Until recently, political communication has largely been studied and theorised from a persuasive, political campaigns and public opinion influence perspective. As a solution, a broader perspective has been advocated (Kaid 1996; Young 2008). Aligned with this recommendation, the present study proposes a multifaceted theoretical approach in the theorising of government communication. The field of government communication is at the juncture of various methodological and disciplinary approaches (Canel & Sanders, 2012:93). The study of government communication could benefit largely from multiple theoretical perspectives and a wider assortment of research strategies. This is because the study of government communication can be traced within a variety of research traditions in political communication, public opinion, propaganda studies, media studies, and public administration. Quite recently, it has been linked to other cognate fields such as public relations, corporate communication, political marketing and strategic communication.

TABLE OF CONTENTS :

  • CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND
    • 1.1 INTRODUCTION
    • 1.2 BACKGROUND
      • 1.2.1 GOVERNMENT COMMUNICATION AS PRACTICE
      • 1.2.2 GOVERNMENT COMMUNICATION AS A DISTINCTIVE PRACTICE
    • 1.3 THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK AND CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK
    • 1.4 PROBLEM STATEMENT
    • 1.5 PURPOSE STATEMENT
    • 1.6 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
    • 1.7 SPECIFIC RESEARCH OBJECTIVES
    • 1.8 RESEARCH DESIGN
    • 1.9 CONTEXT AND UNITS OF ANALYSIS
    • 1.10 ACADEMIC VALUE AND INTENDED CONTRIBUTION OF THE PROPOSED STUDY
    • 1.11 DELIMITATIONS
    • 1.12 ASSUMPTIONS
    • 1.13 STUDY EXPOSITION
    • 1.14 DEFINITION OF KEY TERMS
  • CHAPTER 2: THE DISTINCTIVENESS OF GOVERNMENT
    • COMMUNICATION
    • 2.1 INTRODUCTION
    • 2.2 INTRODUCTION TO PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION
    • 2.3 THE PUBLIC SECTOR REFORM AGENDA
      • 2.3.1 Government as business: The New Public Management Movement
      • 2.3.2 Critique of the New Public Management Movement
    • 2.4 THE PUBLIC SECTOR DISTINCTIVENESS THEORY
    • 2.4.1 Distinctive features of public organisations
    • 2.4.2 Critique of public sector distinctiveness theory
    • 2.5 THE DISTINCTIVENESS OF GOVERNMENT COMMUNICATION
      • 2.5.1 Politics
      • 2.5.2 Public good
      • 2.5.3 Media scrutiny
      • 2.5.4 Legal constraints
      • 2.5.5 Devaluation of communication
      • 2.5.6 Poor public perception
      • 2.5.7 Poor professional development
      • 2.5.8 Limited leadership opportunities
      • 2.5.9 Centralisation
      • 2.5.10 Internal vs external communication
      • 2.5.11 Budgeting: Limited financial resources
      • 2.5.12 Communication evaluations
      • 2.5.13 Multiple communication responsibilities
    • 2.6 EMPIRICAL RESEARCH ON GOVERNMENT COMMUNICATION DISTINCTIVENESS
    • 2.7 CONCLUSIONS
  • CHAPTER 3: GOVERNMENT COMMUNICATION THEORY AND CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK
    • 3.1 INTRODUCTION
    • 3.2 THE NATURE OF THEORIES
    • 3.3 COMMUNICATION THEORIES
    • 3.4 PART ONE: GOVERNMENT COMMUNICATION IN A POLITICAL
    • COMMUNICATION & PARTICIPATORY DEMOCRATIC APPROACH
      • 3.4.1 Government communication from a participatory democratic perspective
      • 3.4.2 Political communication
      • 3.4.3 Government communication
      • 3.4.4 Government communication research
    • 3.5 GOVERNMENT COMMUNICATION IN A MULTIFACETED THEORETICAL APPROACH
    • 3.6 PART TWO: GOVERNMENT COMMUNICATION IN AN ORGANISATIONAL COMMUNICATION MANAGEMENT APPROACH
      • 3.6.1 Public relations and communication management
      • 3.6.2 Communication management in the public sector
      • 3.6.3 Stakeholder management
      • 3.6.4 Citizens as external stakeholders
      • 3.6.5 Levels of communication management
        • 3.6.5.1 The micro (programme) level
        • 3.6.5.2 The meso (departmental) level
        • 3.6.5.3 The macro (organisational) level
    • 3.7 THE EXCELLENCE AND EFFECTIVENESS THEORY IN COMMUNICATION MANAGEMENT
      • 3.7.1 Excellence in strategic government communication
    • 3.8 PART THREE: GOVERNMENT COMMUNICATION IN AN ORGANISATIONAL RHETORICAL APPROACH
      • 3.8.1 Ethics in government communication
      • 3.8.2 Definitions and history
      • 3.8.3 Contemporary rhetoric
      • 3.8.4 External organisational rhetoric
      • 3.8.5 Credibility, reputation, and legitimacy
    • 3.8.5.1 Reputation management as organisational advocacy
      • 3.8.6 Identification
      • 3.8.7 Relationship management
      • 3.8.8 Symmetry and dialogue
      • 3.8.9 Discourse enactment and enlightened choice
      • 3.8.10 Rhetoric as advocacy
      • 3.8.11 Self-interest (advocacy)
      • 3.8.12 Negative connotations of rhetoric advocacy
      • 3.8.13 Sophistic rhetoric
      • 3.8.14 Is advocacy inherently bad?
      • 3.8.15 Advocacy as competition
    • 3.9 RHETORIC, DEMOCRACY AND PUBLIC RELATIONS IN GOVERNMENT COMMUNICATION
    • 3.10 PART FOUR: EXTANT MODELS OF GOVERNMENT COMMUNICATION
    • 3.11 CONCLUSIONS
  • CHAPTER 4: STRATEGIC GOVERNMENT COMMUNICATION
    • 4.1 INTRODUCTION
    • 4.2 STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT
      • 4.2.1 Strategy in strategic communication management
      • 4.2.2 Strategic communication as a theoretical foundation
    • 4.3 THE PRETORIA SCHOOL OF THOUGHT ON STRATEGIC COMMUNICATION
    • 4.4 THE ENVIRONMENT IN STRATEGIC COMMUNICATION
      • 4.4.1 Boundary spanning
    • 4.5 STRATEGY COMMUNICATION AND COMMUNICATION STRATEGY
      • 4.5.1 Strategy communication
      • 4.5.2 Communication strategy
    • 4.6 THE ROLE OF COMMUNICATION IN THE STRATEGY-MAKING PROCESS
    • 4.7 STRATEGIC GOVERNMENT COMMUNICATION
    • 4.8 MODELS FOR DEVELOPING COMMUNICATION STRATEGIES
    • 4.9 ORGANISING THE COMMUNICATION DEPARTMENT
      • 4.9.1 Position of the communication unit within an organisation
      • 4.9.2 Access to management
    • 4.10 COMMUNICATION EVALUATION IN GOVERNMENT
    • 4.11 CONCLUSIONS
  • CHAPTER 5: THE PRACTICE OF GOVERNMENT COMMUNICATION
    • 5.1 INTRODUCTION
    • 5.2 COMMUNICATION AS PRACTICE
    • 5.3 ROLES OF GOVERNMENT COMMUNICATORS
      • 5.3.1 Types of communication practitioner roles
      • 5.3.2 Communication role differentiation
      • 5.3.3 Involvement in organisational decision-making
      • 5.3.4 Job satisfaction
      • 5.3.5 Role specialisation
    • 5.4 FUNCTIONS OF GOVERNMENT COMMUNICATORS
    • 5.5 CHALLENGES CONFRONTING GOVERNMENT COMMUNICATION
    • 5.6 PROFESSIONALIZING GOVERNMENT COMMUNICATION
    • 5.7 COMMUNICATING GOVERNMENT SERVICES
    • 5.8 COMMUNICATING THE CORPORATE IDENTITY
    • 5.9 GOVERNMENT COMMUNICATION AND THE MEDIA
    • 5.10 DIRECT COMMUNICATION (DIRECT REPORTING)
    • 5.11 SOCIAL MEDIA AND WEBSITES AS DIRECT COMMUNICATION
    • 5.12 CONCLUSIONS
      • 5.12.1 Conclusion to the literature
  • CHAPTER 6: GOVERNMENT COMMUNICATION HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENTS IN SOUTH AFRICA
    • 6.1 INTRODUCTION
    • 6.2 THE STATUS OF GOVERNMENT COMMUNICATION RESEARCH IN SOUTH AFRICA
    • 6.3 THE HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT OF GOVERNMENT COMMUNICATION IN SOUTH AFRICA
    • 6.4 GOVERNMENT MEDIA RELATIONS IN SOUTH AFRICA
    • 6.5 GOVERNMENT COMMUNICATION AND INFORMATION SYSTEM (GCIS)
    • 6.6 THE STRUCTURE AND POSITION OF THE COMMUNICATION UNIT WITHIN
    • GOVERNMENT DEPARTMENTS IN SOUTH AFRICA
    • 6.7 POLICY GUIDELINES FOR GOVERNMENT COMMUNICATION IN SOUTH AFRICA
    • 6.8 CONCLUSIONS
  • CHAPTER 7: RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS
    • 7.1 INTRODUCTION
    • 7.2 RESEARCH PARADIGM / PHILOSOPHY
    • 7.3 INQUIRY STRATEGY: DESCRIPTIVE STUDY
    • 7.4 RESEARCH DESIGN: TRIANGULATION (MIXED-METHODOLOGIES)
    • 7.5 POPULATION
    • 7.6 SAMPLING
      • 7.6.1 Probability purposive (non-random) sampling
    • 7.7 DATA COLLECTION
    • 7.8 QUALITATIVE RESEARCH
      • 7.8.1 Multiple- case study
      • 7.8.2 In-depth interviews
        • 7.8.2.1 Structured interviews
        • 7.8.2.2 Unstructured interviews
      • 7.8.3 Document analysis research methodology
    • 7.9 QUANTITATIVE METHODOLOGY: SURVEY QUESTIONNAIRES
    • 7.10 DATA ANALYSIS
      • 7.10.1 Data coding
      • 7.10.2 Thematic analysis
      • 7.10.3 Analysis of questionnaires of limited scale
      • 7.10.4 Analysis of interview data
      • 7.10.5 Analysing of communication strategy documents
    • 7.11 ASSESSING AND DEMONSTRATING THE QUALITY AND RIGOUR OF THE PROPOSED RESEARCH DESIGN
    • 7.12 RESEARCH ETHICS
    • 7.12.1 Confidentiality and anonymity
  • CHAPTER 8: REVIEWING GOVERNMENT COMMUNICATION STRATEGY DOCUMENTS
    • 8.1 INTRODUCTION
    • 8.2 THE ALIGNMENT OF DEPARTMENT COMMUNICATION STRATEGIES WITH THE GCIS PROVINCIAL STRATEGY
    • 8.3 THE VALUE OF THE ENVIRONMENT OR CONTEXT IN STRATEGIZING
      • 8.3.1 The national environment
      • 8.3.2 The provincial environment
      • 8.3.3 The departmental environment
      • 8.3.4 Synergy of the three levels of environment
      • 8.3.5 The value of government communication strategies
      • 8.3.6 The process of developing and approving government communication
    • strategies
    • 8.4 DOCUMENT ANALYSIS OF GOVERNMENT COMMUNICATION STRATEGY DOCUMENTS
      • 8.4.1 Strategic objectives
      • 8.4.2 Provincial government communication (office of the KZN Premier)
      • 8.4.3 Department of KZN Education
      • 8.4.4 Department of Public Works KZN
      • 8.4.5 Department of Health KZN
      • 8.4.6 Department of Sport and Recreation
      • 8.4.7 The department of KZN COGTA
      • 8.4.8 Department of KZN Economic Development and Tourism
      • 8.4.9 Synthesis and discussion of government communication strategy objectives
    • 8.5 POLICY DOCUMENTS GUIDING GOVERNMENT COMMUNICATION STRATEGIES
      • 8.5.1 Synthesis and discussion of guiding policy documents in the formulation of government communication strategies
    • 8.6 POLITICS
    • 8.7 LEGAL CONSTRAINTS
    • 8.8 BUDGETING
    • 8.9 STRATEGY GOVERNMENT COMMUNICATION
    • 8.10 THE COMMUNICATION ENVIRONMENT
      • 8.10.1 Synthesis and discussion of the communication environment in the formulation of government communication strategies
    • 8.11 COMMUNICATION EVALUATIONS
      • 8.11.1 Synthesis and discussion of government communication evaluations
    • 8.12 GOVERNMENT MEDIA RELATIONS
    • 8.13 IMAGE-BUILDING AND CORPORATE IDENTITY
    • 8.14 OUTREACH PROGRAMMES
    • 8.15 INTERNAL COMMUNICATION
    • 8.16 TWO WAY COMMUNICATIONS
    • 8.17 KEY SPEAKERS /MESSENGERS
    • 8.18 INTEGRATED COMMUNICATION
    • 8.19 GOVERNMENT COMMUNICATION’S TEN COMMANDMENTS
    • 8.20 CONCLUSIONS
  • CHAPTER 9: RESULTS AND DATA FINDINGS
    • 9.1 INTRODUCTION
    • 9.2 DEMOGRAPHICS
    • 9.3 PERCEIVED PRIVATE/PUBLIC DISTINCTION
    • 9.4 POLITICS
    • 9.4.1 The effects of politics on the practice of government communication
    • 9.4.2 Is politics intrinsic to government communication?
    • 9.5 THE EFFECTS OF LEGAL CONSTRAINTS ON THE PRACTICE OF GOVERNMENT COMMUNICATION
      • 9.5.1 The protocol of consulting and information gathering
      • 9.5.2 The protocol of consulting and approval
      • 9.5.3 Bureaucracy and red tape
      • 9.5.4 Confidentiality and information classification
    • 9.6 MANAGEMENT SUPPORT FOR GOVERNMENT COMMUNICATION
      • 9.6.1 Government communication seen as technical or supporting instrument
      • 9.6.2 Poor understanding of media relations
      • 9.6.3 Budget constraints
      • 9.6.4 Additional challenges caused by the devaluation of government communication
    • 9.6.5 The value political and administrative managers attached to government communication
    • 9.6.6 Reasons political managers value communication
    • 9.7 STRATEGIC GOVERNMENT COMMUNICATION
    • 9.7.1 Government communication as a management function
    • 9.7.2 Communication manager to manage government communication strategically
    • 9.7.3 Involvement in organisational decision-making
    • 9.7.4 Influence on strategic management of the department
    • 9.7.5 Strategic government communication as a verifying tool
    • 9.8 COMMUNICATION EVALUATIONS
    • 9.9 COMMUNICATION STRUCTURES
    • 9.9.1 Communication unit as aligned to the HOD
    • 9.9.2 Communication unit as aligned to the MEC
    • 9.10 GOVERNMENT COMMUNICATION ROLES
    • 9.10.1 Roles, functions and responsibilities of government Communicators in the department
    • 9.10.1.1 Government communicators employment titles
    • 9.10.1.2 Perception of role differentiation
    • 9.10.1.3 Expert prescriber (Level D)
    • 9.10.1.4 Problem solving process facilitator (Level C)
    • 9.10.1.5 Communication facilitator (Level B)/ acceptance legitimizer/ the town crier
    • 9.10.1.6 The steward conductor (level C)
    • 9.10.1.7 Media relations (Level B)
    • 9.10.1.8 Media relations (Level C)
    • 9.10.1.9 Communication liaison / the traffic manager
    • 9.11 THE OVERALL PURPOSE OF GOVERNMENT COMMUNICATION
    • 9.11.1 Government communication (definition)
    • 9.11.2 Promoting government services through branding, identity management and events management:
    • 9.11.3 Information diffusion
    • 9.11.4 Media relations
    • 9.11.5 Two-way communication and feedback
    • 9.11.6 Educating the public about government and its services
    • 9.11.7 Integrated communication
    • 9.11.8 Managing internal communication
    • 9.11.9 Stakeholder management
    • 9.11.10 Advising management of communication issues
    • 9.11.11 Strategic government communication as a verifying tool
    • 9.12 EFFECTS OF CENTRALISATION
    • 9.13 OUTREACH PROGRAMMES AND EVENTS MANAGEMENT
    • 9.13.1 Project sukuma sakhe
    • 9.13.2 Integrated communication for outreach programmes
    • 9.13.3 Criteria for deciding areas for outreach programmes
    • 9.13.4 Procedures and research prior imbizos
    • 9.13.5 Role of communicators in outreach programmes
    • 9.13.6 Challenges of outreach programmes
    • 9.14 GOVERNMENT COMMUNICATION: ADVOCACY, INFORMATION DIFFUSION OR BOUNDARY SPANNING?
    • 9.15 GOVERNMENT COMMUNICATION AND MEDIA RELATIONS
    • 9.15.1 High media scrutiny
    • 9.15.2 Negative coverage
    • 9.15.3 Media understanding of the intricacies of government communication
    • 9.15.4 Training media about government issues, structures and procedures
    • 9.15.5 Media – government relationship
    • 9.15.6 Dominant coalition’s understanding of the media
    • 9.15.7 Media channels
    • 9.15.8 Ex-journalist government communicators (experiences from the other side)
    • 9.16 DIRECT COMMUNICATION
    • 9.16.1 Direct communication in the KZN provincial government
    • 9.16.2 Simama
    • 9.16.3 Departmental publications
    • 9.16.4 Other forms of direct communication
    • 9.17 SOCIAL MEDIA AS FORM OF DIRECT COMMUNICATION
    • 9.17.1 Social Media in government communication
    • 9.17.2 Integrated communication
    • 9.17.3 Introducing social media in government communication
    • 9.17.4 Advantages and uses of social media in government communication
    • 9.17.5 Disadvantages and fears of social media
    • 9.17.6 Responding to social media queries
    • 9.17.7 Evaluating social media
    • 9.18 PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
    • 9.18.1 Limited specialisation of communication professional roles
    • 9.18.2 Education and professional membership affiliation
    • 9.19 THE ROLE OF THE PROVINCIAL GCIS IN STANDARDISING AND PROFESSIONALISING GOVERNMENT COMMUNICATION
    • 9.19.1 Rating the usefulness of the provincial GCIS in KZN
    • 9.19.2 Interaction between the GCIS and government communicators in KZN
    • 9.19.3 Government communicators’ compliance to GCIS initiatives
    • 9.19.4 The role of the GCIS in standardising government communication
    • 9.19.5 The role of the GCIS in providing practical communication support
    • 9.19.6 The role of the GCIS in professionalising government communication
    • 9.19.7 Additional roles of the GCIS
    • 9.19.8 Uses of the GCIS government communicators handbook
    • 9.19.9 Conversations with the GCIS
    • 9.19.10 Challenges of government communication in KZN the province
  • CHAPTER 10: DISCUSSIONS AND CONCLUSIONS
    • 10.1 INTRODUCTION
    • 10.2 THE DISTINCTIVENESS OF GOVERNMENT COMMUNICATION
    • 10.2.1 Effects of high media scrutiny on the practice of government communication
    • 10.2.2 The effects of politics to the practice of government communication
    • 10.2.3 Effects of legal constraints to the practice of government communication
    • 10.2.4 Effects of centralisation on the practice of government communication
    • 10.2.5 Effects of the devaluation of communication to the practice of government communication
    • 10.3 STRATEGIC GOVERNMENT COMMUNICATION
    • 10.3.1 Effectiveness in strategic government communication
    • 10.3.1.1 Effectiveness feature 1: Communication as a management function
    • 10.3.1.2 Effectiveness feature 2: Contribution to enterprise strategy
    • 10.3.1.3 Effectiveness feature 3: Environmental scanning and communication evaluations
    • 10.3.2 Organisational structure of the communication unit
    • 10.3.3 Government communication roles
    • 10.3.4 The allignment between government communication strategy documents
    • and the practice of government communication
    • 10.3.5 Excellence in strategic government communication
    • 10.4 PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT AND THE ROLE OF THE GCIS
    • 10.4.1 Effect of (poor) professional development on the practice of government communication
    • 10.4.2 The role of the GCIS in standardising government communication
    • 10.5 THE QUESTION OF ETHICS IN GOVERNMENT COMMUNICATION MANAGEMENT
    • 10.5.1 The purpose of government communication
    • 10.5.2 Advocacy and identity management in government communication
    • 10.5.3 Effects of internal vs external communication on the practice of government communication
    • 10.5.4 Government communication as a public good
    • 10.5.5 External rhetorical theory in ethical government communication
    • 10.6 CONCLUSIONS ABOUT RESEARCH PROPOSITIONS (OBJECTIVES)
    • 10.7 THE DISTINCTIVE, STRATEGIC AND ETHICAL FRAMEWORK FOR GOVERNMENT COMMUNICATION
    • 10.7.1 Introduction
    • 10.7.2 Structure of government communication
    • 10.7.3 Processes of government communication
    • 10.7.3.1 Excellence in government communication
    • 10.7.3.2 Effectiveness in government communication
    • 10.7.3.3 Professionalism and standardisation of government communication
    • 10.7.4 Degree of democracy in the specific country
    • 10.7.5 Management style of the government department
    • 10.7.6 Outcome: Ethical government communication
    • 10.7.7 Conclusions of model
    • 10.8 CONTRIBUTIONS AND IMPLICATION FOR THEORY
    • 10.9 IMPLICATION FOR POLICY AND PRACTICE
    • 10.10 IMPLICATIONS FOR METHODOLOGY
    • 10.10.1 Methodological successes
    • 10.10.2 Methodological challenges
    • 10.11 LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
    • 10.12 FUTURE RESEARCH RECOMMENDATIONS
    • 10.13 CONCLUSION ABOUT THE RESEARCH PROBLEM
    • LIST OF REFERENCES
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