In response to Steve Mackey's provocative article about 'Stakeholder' (in PRism issue 4/1), Dean Kruckeberg has supplied some comments and a copy of a recent speech, and has given permission for them to be posted on the PRaxis site.
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On December 8, 2006, Dean Kruckeberg wrote:
[Re: Mackey on misues of stakeholder]... although I need to study this article with some care, it appears to be a highly thoughtful treatise that makes some interesting observations. A quick reading, nevertheless, suggests that he misinterprets what we are saying, i.e., we are not suggesting that members of society, whom we do regard as corporate stakeholders by virtue of their citizenship in society, should be co-opted into the corporate community, but rather that the corporation should be an active and responsible participant of a societal community-doing what it can and should be doing to assure the restoration and maintenance of a sense of community within society. The author should look at our more recent work, particularly with Vujnovic, in which we introduce the concept of an "organic theory" of public relations-which I at least see as an evolution and extension of the concept of community-building. I also am including here, for your information, a speech that I gave to municipal government officials from throughout Russia at a conference in Siberia last summer. [Click here to download a PDF of the speech.] In sum, and again after a very quick reading of the section related to Starck and my work, I think the author is misinterpreting what we are recommending, and he may not be as critical of the concept of public as he should be. Although I cannot defend my position in just a few words, I see two-way symmetry as well-meaning, but ultimately philosophically flawed, with some of its inherent weaknesses being addressed in relationship-building theory, most exemplified by Ledingham and Bruning, (this latter theory which nevertheless presents some grave social dangers), and I regard normative public relations theory to be most idealized by community-building theory, the last theory being most highly refined in an "organic theory" of public relations.
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