Neeltjé du Plessis from the Communication Management Division presented a research paper co-authored by Prof Ronél Rensburg at the International History of Public Relations Conference (IHPRC), held at Bournemouth University, England.
The research paper encompassed the development of the ‘Pretoria School of Thought’, a recent building block in the body of knowledge of the communication management discipline. The theoretical direction originated in 1994 with the work of inter alia Benita Steyn and Gustav Puth, when Communication Management had first been introduced and offered as a degree programme in the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences. The research paper is based on Du Plessis’s current doctoral studies.
The dataset included all research dissertations and theses completed at the Communication Management Division over the past 20 years. The purpose of the study was to document the evolvement of theory in the specific discipline to establish future direction and the development of the different levels of theory required for a maturing school of thought. The research tracks the evolvement of public relations (PR) as a technical tool to communication management as a strategic business ingredient.
The research findings illustrated the changes which took place in the South African business environment from the early 1990s through to the present. The demand from top management for communicators who can operate and advise on strategic communication level, and who can understand the economy and business, opened an opportunity to supply such graduates. International exposure to theoretical developments provided the seeds for the germination and development of a new local worldview.