Table of Contents

Statement of Problem
Literature Review
Projected Results

DoD Short Course Class 00-B

Review of Available Literature

Addressing commanders’ perceptions of public affairs with existing communication theories is useful for framing the issue and guiding the research methodology.  For this Capstone project, the researchers will examine commander’s perceptions using three theoretical perspectives: uses and gratifications theory, value expectancy theory and leader-member exchange theory.  In addition, elements of the communication apprehension principle will be applied to all three of these theories to better define the competing influences that shape a commanders' views of public affairs.  Examining these influences from these theoretical perspectives may help explain what makes each influence more or less important than another.  The theories will also prove useful in future research studies that seek to develop strategies to address those influences.

Uses and Gratifications Theory
 Uses and gratifications theory, first advanced in the 1940s by Lazarsfeld and Stanton (1944), attempts to explain the reasons people use mass media and the different types of gratification they receive from it.  Gratifications, simply stated, are rewards or satisfactions obtained by the individual.  The theory relies on the belief that the audience is not merely a group of passive media consumers, but that they play an active role in selecting different media to meet their needs (Infante, Rancer & Womack, 1997; Lowery & De Fleur, 1983).  The theory came into prominence in the late 1950s and early 1960s at a time when researchers realized that traditional effects theories did not adequately explain audience experiences with mass media (Blumler, 1979; Swanson, 1979).

 Rubin (1986) stated two underlying presumptions of the uses and gratifications model.  First researchers need to understand audience needs and motives for using mass media in order to comprehend the effects of the media.  Second, understanding audience consumption patterns will enhance understanding of media effects. 

 Rubin (1979) identified six major uses of television for children and adolescents: learning, passing time or habit, companionship, escape, arousal, and relaxation.  In a separate study, Rubin (1983) found five reasons that adults use television: passing time, information, entertainment, companionship, and escape.  Rubin (1984) also identified in a subsequent study two types of television viewers – ritualized and instrumental.  Ritualized users are frequent TV viewers who use television mainly as a diversion.  Instrumental users usually have a specific purpose in mind when they watch TV and often use it for information purposes.

 Levy and Windahl (1984) refine the idea of a “totally active audience” (p. 73), and suggest different members of an audience will display different types and amounts of activity in different communication settings and at different times in the communication sequence.  They identified three types of audience activity people engage in when using the mass media: pre-activity (behaviors taken in the selection of mass media content); duractivity (psychological attentiveness and personal involvement in the experience); and post-activity (behaviors taken after the experience, such as discussion or reflection).  These activities obviously varied in degree from person to person.  Levy and Windahl (1984) found that overall, the public is more or less active and relatively self aware and knowledgeable about the media’s ability to gratify certain social and psychological needs. 
 Garramone (1984) writes that audience motivation is a mediating factor in information processing.  The reasons a person uses various media affect their attention to various aspects of the media presentation, including the channel and the content. 

 Uses and gratifications has come under some criticism from a number of researchers.  There is debate over whether uses and gratifications is a general theory of communication or a framework comprised of several theories.  Swanson (1979) argues that viewing U & G as a framework of theories leads to conceptual ambiguities and inconsistencies, while Blumler (1979) and Windahl (1981) suggest U & G is best approached as an umbrella concept encompassing several theories.  Infante et al. (1997) point out that most of U & G research relies on self-report questionnaires, which some critics question in terms of  reliability and validity.
Becker (1979) points to the difficulty in defining and measuring “gratification.”  Because gratification is audience- rather than researcher-oriented, operationalization becomes a thorny issue.  Becker (1979) does point out however that gratifications do not seem to be media-specific.  That is, a person who seeks a particular type of gratification from one medium will likely do the same for another medium.  Rubin (1986) believes U & G research will be best served by continuing to explore and explain the specific links among attitudes, motives, behavior, and communication effects.

Looking at communication apprehension within the U & G perspective is useful in understanding why person may avoid using a particular communication strategy.  The principle of communication apprehension simply states that people are more likely to avoid communication situations that result in fear or anxiety for the communicator.  Within communication apprehension is a category called reticence, which is a trait attributed to people who are habitually silent or uncommunicative.  Burgoon and Hale (1983) refer to this in the “Unwillingness to Communicate” model.  This model is composed of two dimensions: an approach-avoidance dimension, which measures the chance of an individual seeking out face-to-face interactions; and a reward dimension, which measures the degree to which an individual finds interaction with others as unprofitable.  A reticent person is unlikely to actively "use" particular forms of communication or derive gratifications from those situations.
Similarly, Miller (1987) advances several ideas concerning the anxiety and fear associated with oral communication.  Each seems to hint at some link between distress about communication and negative expectations concerning the outcomes or process of communication.  Burgoon and Hale (1983) suggest that people who find communication futile can be identified by the "unwillingness to communicate" approach.  The "unwillingness to communicate" scale was designed to deal with reticence or quietness concerning face-to-face interactions.  Again, the degree of anxiety and fear a person experiences in a communication situation is likely the affect the person's use of that particular style of communication. 

While uses and gratifications theory attempts to explain the reasons people use mass media and the gratifications they receive, the researchers of this Capstone project feel the principles of the theory can be applied to explain why many military commanders do not support public affairs operations.  The underlying principle is that if commanders perceived that there were viable operational uses of public affairs and that some sort of gratification would result from public affairs efforts (either personal gratification or unit/base gratification), then they would be more likely to adopt pro-public affairs attitudes.  Ideally, if attitudes changed, then behaviors would follow, and commanders would begin to use public affairs professionals in the manner they are designed to operate. 

Employing the uses and gratifications perspective has potentially significant benefits for advertisers, television network executives, and politicians.  If they can identify the form and the content that satisfies the needs of their customers, they have a dependable vehicle for communicating persuasive messages with success.  Similarly, public affairs officers who can identify the form and content necessary to convey the importance of what they do are more likely to educate their commanders about the potential uses and rewards of implementing public affairs programs. 

Value Expectancy in Leader-Follower Interaction
 Developing commanding officer support for a public affairs program and its staff, the theories of value expectancy and leader-member exchange stand out as methods of generating support.  Both theories deal with how to persuade using either recognition of the value of an action thus improving the chances of adoption, or the cross-communication between senior and subordinate and upward influence tactics to gain support.  The research found clearly shows that techniques based from either theory (and the given situation), would greatly enhance a PAO's efforts to gain support from a CO who has single or multiple influences on him or her to disregard the public affairs program and/or staff.

Barge (1994) outlines the expectancy value theory as a choice-making process in which people go after goals that they perceive as realistic, attainable and desirable.  In other words it means that people calculate the relative payoffs of accomplishing certain goals.  The author stresses that people will first calculate the expectancy or the amount of confidence they have that certain behaviors will be followed by a certain outcome.  Secondly, people will calculate the valance, or degree of postivity or negativity, of their view of whether the outcome is what they wanted.  The final calculation people will make is the instrumentality, or the belief that if they go to the trouble, the desired outcome will come about (Barge, 1994).

 The author notes that while expectancy value theory explains why people based their decision-making in order to maximize their gains, the theory does not completely account for all behavior.  Barge (1994) says the theory falls short when the number of possible outcomes becomes too taxing for our cognitive ability to calculate.  In addition the theory's valance considerations can not always explain why some people avoid pursuing a goal with a negative consequences whether the valance is large or small (Barge, 1994).

 The important key in trying to apply this theory to a nonsupport situation is:

1) limiting number of variables,
2) strong positive valance,
3) attainable desired outcome.

If the CO sees value for the effort, the odds of gaining compliance and support are improved.

Drake and Moberg (1986) suggest a variation of the value expectancy theory with their exchange paradigm.  The authors argue that each influence attempt is evaluated by the receiver in terms of comparison of the contribution requested and the inducements offered. 

In their model, the authors outline an influence attempt with the evaluation calculation stage: is the request adequately compensated by the inducements offered in the content of the request?  The next step is the three possible responses: clearly yes, maybe yes/no, clearly no.  For clearly yes and no, there is little consideration of the contributions/inducements the requestor receives either non-calculative compliance or angry non-compliance.  The maybe yes/no section of the model is where the receiver calculates, or weighs, the contribution request against the inducements offered. The result is either calculative compliance or non-compliance (Drake and Moberg, 1986).

This provides the basis of the argument that content does not drive influence or compliance as much as effective communication.  Influencers who use language that violates power and social expectations will find it harder to achieve their goals even with adequate inducements.  In contrast, using language that palliates receivers into compliance when the inducements are not good enough or certain linguistic forms can sedate a target into automatic compliance responses (Drake and Moberg, 1986).

The effects of non-supportive leadership of any unit, organization or group ultimately result in poorer subordinate performance, failure to meet or inadequately meet goals, and drops in subordinate morale and expectations.  Nebecker and Mitchell (1974) studied the value expectancy theory as it applies to leadership behavior and subordinate expectations of that behavior.  The authors argue that the value expectancy theory -- the perceived expectation that a behavior is related to the attainment of outcomes weighted by the evaluation of these outcomes -- can be used to help predict leadership behavior.  Furthermore, the authors argue that leadership behavior can facilitate or block the attempts of subordinates to reach their work-related goals (Nebecker and Mitchell, 1974).

 Using leadership behavior as the independent variable and individual or group outcomes as the dependent variables, Nebecker and Mitchell (1974) studied supervisors from three U.S. Navy air squadrons, 50 county supervisors, and their subordinates using an 11-point Likert scale survey.  The authors asked the supervisors to self-report on the leadership traits provided in the survey, and they asked the subordinates to rate their supervisors on how they used those traits.  The scale was set with 1=uses none of that behavior and 11=maximum use possible. 

The behaviors that were rated were:

1) criticizing subordinates' poor performance
2) praising subordinates' good performance
3) showing friendliness
4) explaining to subordinates what is expected of them
5) supervising subordinates' ongoing activities
6) instructing subordinates on how to do the job
7) seeking opinions from subordinates on decisions that will affect them
8) treating worker as individuals

Compilation of their data showed that expectations of subordinates were correlated with the extent to which leaders used the surveyed behaviors positively and to the expectancy value theory (Nebecker and Mitchell, 1974).  while the authors called for other research, it can be assumed that leaders, either military or civilian, who exhibit positive leadership traits and work toward meeting the expectations of subordinates will achieve greater success (Current leadership elements, leadership principles, and leadership compentencies for the U.S. Navy --requires Adobe Acrobat Reader)

Communication apprehension also plays a role in the value expectancy context.  McCroskey (1984) suggests that communication apprehension develops as a direct result of what outcome is expected from engaging in various communication behaviors.  Negative expectations are associated with a lack of success in communicating. 

MacIntyre & Thivierge's (1995) research found that people prefer to speak to more familiar and more pleasant audiences, "both in terms of anticipated anxiety and their willingness to speak" (p.465).  However, the speakers seem more at ease when speaking to pleasant strangers than to unpleasant friends.  But pleasant friends constituted the most preferred audience. 

A category of communication apprehension known as person-group communication apprehension may be helpful in describing the relationship between commanders and their hesitations or mistrust concerning media. Person-group communication apprehension describes the reactions of an individual communicating with a specific person or group.  According to this perspective, some people may cause apprehension in others in communication situations (McCroskey, 1982).  This theory supports the possibility that media may make commanders uncomfortable and apprehensive. 

Another type of communication apprehension that may explain commander's attitudes concerning public affairs and the media in particular is situational communication apprehension.  This perspective describes an individual's communication apprehension to a person or group at a given time (McCroskey, 1982).  Situational apprehension may explain a commander's fear or unwillingness to speak on camera or grant interviews to media. 

The researchers of this Capstone project feel that communication apprehension in terms of dealing with the news media may be a major influence on a commander's attitudes toward public affairs and their subsequent willingness to become involved in PA programs.  Using McCroskey's (1984) perspective, it is reasonable to assume that a commander who does not expect a high value from a military-media interaction is unlikely to support those interactions or participate in those interactions.  Reasons for the apprehension could include fear of saying the wrong thing and fear of embarrassment in a public forum.  Or they could be related to prejudices and pre-conceived notions about the news media's motives and agendas. 

Leader-Member Exchange Theory
Often the public affairs office is considered an outside entity on its own installation.  The "PAO-types" constantly talk with the media and outside community sources, which, in the mind of the non-supportive CO, are considered to be adversarial to the military purpose.  This status of "being outsiders," makes influencing the CO difficult at best and different tactics must be considered.

One of the typical signs of non-supportive leaders is the lack of meaningful, two-way communication between the leader and the subordinate(s) needing support.  Many times this is perceived by subordinates as lack of concern for their work and/or no empowerment.  Fisher and Ellis (1990) say that effective leaders exhibit flexible communicative skills.  These leaders will adjust their communicative behaviors and interpersonal relationships according to the situation and the nature of the people they work with – the followers.  They reference several studies showing when leaders are working with motivated, competent workers, they show more consideration and respect for them; they also involve the workers in more decision-making and create less structure for the workers. Their followers significantly influence these types of leaders and their communicative behaviors.

Krone (1991) describes the leader-member exchange theory as having subordinate relationships embedded in groups, and that these groups are not equivalent.  Two specific groups are defined as in-groups and out-groups.  The in-group enjoys greater work-related support and responsiveness from supervisors and handles more administering activities and has greater communication with superiors.  The out-group develops more formal and restrictive relationships with supervisors and perform only routine tasks.  However Krone (1991) points out that the framework of the theory does not explain the extent of in-group or out-group subordinates' use of upward influence tactics: open persuasion, strategic persuasion, and manipulation.

 The author proposes a topology for three tactics for upward influence, which are motivated desires for some alternative condition than what is already in force within an organization.  Open persuasion is the overt attempt by subordinates to affect supervisors' thinking with the desired outcomes fully disclosed.  Strategic persuasion is less open with the means and closed with the ends.  Some techniques used with strategic persuasion include foot-in-the-door, door-in-the-face, manipulation use of information, managing self-presentation, and using ingratiation behaviors.  More than the others, manipulation involves more covert behaviors from subordinates which conceal the real reasons and ultimate outcome from an influence attempt (Krone, 1991).

 Studying the LMX theory and upward influence tactics, Krone (1991) discovered that the quality of the relationship in either group determine the tactic most likely used.  Krone discovered that while both groups indicated they used open and strategic persuasion tactics, the in-group, which perceives a higher quality supervisory relationship, uses them more than the out-group, which feels more compelled to protect itself from non-supportive retaliatory responses.  Out-group members were also more inclined to use manipulative tactics because the author says these tactics are less risky for the out-group relationships because there is less to lose if caught in the deception (Krone, 1991).

As an off-shoot of the LMX theory, Harris and Sherblom (1999) brought up one theory to explain the behavior and the effects of non-supportive leadership in the managerial leadership grid theory, developed by Robert Blake and Jane Mouton in 1964 from studies conducted at Ohio State University during the 1950s.  It characterizes leadership styles: team management, authority-compliance, middle of the road, country club management, opportunism, paternalism or maternalism, and impoverished management on a grid with concern for people on a vertical axis and concern for task on the horizontal axis.  According to Harris and Sherblom (1999), each axis is scaled from 1 (least) to 9 (most) and the leadership styles are placed appropriately on the scale.  For example 1,1 rating is impoverished leadership that gives no concern to people or tasking.  Likewise, 9,9 is team management which gives high regard to both people and tasking.  A commanding officer who is non-supportive of public affairs could be possibly scored low in the team management and concern for people categories while ranking higher in task accomplishment (mission priorities).  Harris and Sherblom (1999) note that criticism of the theory is that it is too simplistic in its assumption of universality, but add that it is a valuable starting place for understanding different leadership styles and leaders.  And while it can help leaders determine when and what styles to use in certain situations, it can also be a valuable tool to subordinates to determine how best to influence a leader. (Harris & Sherblom, 1999).

Harris and Sherblom (1999) state that everyone expects at least three characteristics for all leaders to exhibit: vision, credibility and communication competence.  They point out that leaders do more than hold meetings and keep track of events.  They must hold on to the overall vision while moving the group toward that vision.  This means planning long and short-term goals, focusing attention, managing conflict, and empowering others to help the creative process. 

By credibility, Harris and Sherblom (1999) say a leader must inspire the group’s trust and confidence in the leader’s abilities and credibility.  The authors define credibility as:

1) knowledge and expertise,
2) honesty and ableness,
3) remaining calm under stress,
4) likableness, and,
5) interest in others

Leaders without credibility are usually perceived as manipulative or dishonest and will have a harder time gaining compliance from their subordinates.

 Communication competence is defined by the authors as being able to translate relevant knowledge, skills, and situationally appropriate behavior in a way subordinates can understand and trust.  It also is defined as being able to mange ambiguity and uncertainty – knowing how to “read” the followers as well as their operational environment, and know when to reduce or heighten uncertainty (Harris & Sherblom, 1999).

 Often times, commanding officers see the public affairs officer and staff as necessary evils to be tolerated.  Others see the media as an enemy that cannot be trusted.  In most cases of the non-supportive CO, the individual sees no value to dealing with the PAO or the media and therefore sees no purpose in using limited resources to support the endeavor.  The PAO and staff must try to provide the CO with considerations designed to gain compliance by attaching values and benefits that guide the CO toward compliance and support.