literature about commanderís perceptions of public affairs has been
mostly limited to the commanderís view. Cannon (1984) studied the
relationships between commanders and their Public Affairs personnel.
In the study, commanders were given a self-report questionnaire
that was used to evaluate the commanderís perception of their working
relationship with Public Affairs. Cannon (1984) concluded that commanders
have overall positive and supportive relationships with their Public
Capstone project evaluated commanders' perceptions from the Public
Affairs personnelís point of view. That is, how do Public Affairs
professionals think their commanders view public affairs, and what
is the level of support from their commanders? An analysis of perceptions
will be most useful in determining what influences commanders view
of public affairs and how those influences affect subsequent support
for Public Affairs programs. The theoretical perspectives chosen
by the researchers indicate that various influences shape an individualís
perception of what is beneficial or useful. These theoretical perspectives
indicate there are competing influences that shape commandersí perceptions
of public affairs and subsequent support for PA programs.
Affairs programs usually involve open and honest relations with
the news media. However, despite the need to engage the media and
release the maximum amount of information with minimum delay, commanders
may be unwilling to communicate with the media. This unwillingness
may stem from a lack of understanding of how to use the media for
positive purposes, lack of perceived value (gratification) from
military-media interactions, or even apprehension about saying the
wrong thing and being embarrassed. The first hypothesis of this
research project is:
the perspective of the Public Affairs professional, commanders'
attitudes towards the news media can affect how they interact
with the media.
When a commander
does not understand the benefits of a successful Public Affairs
program, they will be less likely to employ these assets. A commander
must understand the true value that results from implementing effective
public affairs programs. Value expectancy theory suggests that commanders
will be more likely to utilize a program if they are confident in
its value. This understanding of the role of Public Affairs and
subsequent support leads to the second hypothesis:
H2: From the
perspective of the Public Affairs professional, commanders' attitude
towards Public Affairs is a major influence on their support of
experiences with public affairs will shape their perceptions of
the whole career field. Research by Nebecker and Mitchell (1974)
applied value expectancy to superior-subordinate relationships.
They posited that the value-expectancy a commander has concerning
a subordinate could predict leadership behavior. Commanders base
their expectations of individuals on past or present working experiences.
This principle leads to our third hypothesis:
H3: From the
perspective of the Public Affairs professional, commanders' perception
of their personal public affairs staff, both past and present,
influences how they perceive the effectiveness and importance
of public affairs.