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Understanding the Dimensions of Trust in Public Relations and Its Measurement

Park, Joosuk (Joseph)
Committee Members: 
Dr. Candace White
August 2012

Abstract: Trust judgment of an organization’s publics validates the existence of an organization as well as being one of the most powerful moderators of public relations effectiveness. The ideas of trust as one of the key dimensions to explain relational status between an organization and its key publics has been around more than a decade. Over the last two decades, the idea of trust in fact has been showing rising prominence across many diversified studies of relationship and relationship management. In relationship management, one of the important goals of public relations is to build mutually beneficial relationships among organizations and their publics. Hence, to provide a useful indicator of success or failure of building mutually beneficial relationships through various public relations activities, it becomes necessary to measure the quality of relationships using a key factor of relationship, trust.

Based on the discussed ideas, this study attempts to measure the quality of relationships utilizing the ideas of trust as a key conceptual dimension of the behavioral aspect of public relations. Through the Phase 1 (model development) and Phase 2 (model validation), this study provided evidence of an existence of a conceptual structure of trust from a perspective of relationship management. The fit indices obtained from the model building and validation processes also suggests a fair fit of the studies constructs and dimensions in the given model design.

This approach will not only help to extend the range boundary of current measurement tools in public relations practices, but also contribute to the understanding of what constitutes a good or a better relationship with publics for scholars and practitioners.