Organization-public relationships have been recognized as the essence of public relations. Even though employees have been identified as a strategic public contributing to organizational success, no attention has been given to employee-organization relationship development in postsocialist transitioning countries in Central and Eastern Europe.
This study explores how local employees in foreign-owned hotels in Croatia make sense of relationships with organizations for which they work. Interviews with Croatian employees reveal a number of barriers to successful employee-organization relationship development in foreign-owned companies. Findings indicate that local employees struggle with unfulfilled expectations in the workplace and face obstacles that prevent improvement. Employees perceive profit as a main corporate value while there is little or no attention given to employees’ wellbeing and satisfaction. Findings further illustrate cultural and social distance between local employees and foreign managers. The issue of multiculturalism in transitioning countries becomes increasingly relevant as companies hire Western, Eastern European, and other non- Western managers.
Public relations and internal communication could assist in relationship development in cross-cultural settings. However, this study’s findings indicate greater managerial issues that have to be dealt with at the top management level, which has to be willing to consider employees’ perspectives. That provides an opportunity and challenge for public relations in foreign-owned companies. However, in order to be able to contribute to overcoming crosscultural obstacles, public relations will have to participate in strategic management, and argue that communication has to be supported by appropriate managerial behavior.