Envisioning PR Research without Taking Organizations as Collective Actors for Granted: A Rejoinder and Extension to Hou

Alexander Buhmann*, Dennis Schoeneborn

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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In a recent article in Public Relations Inquiry, Jenny Hou has fittingly argued for a stronger focus on agency and actorhood in PR research. We point to two crucial aspects in which we think her arguments need to be extended, namely: (a) embracing the constitutive role of communication for organizational actorhood and agency, and (b) rethinking the role of PR in the constitution of organizational actors. We argue that such extension would allow for an important and radical twist in perspective that highlights a widely neglected question in PR research: What if the collective actorhood status of organizations is not treated as a given but rather arises from communicative attributions of such actorhood status to social entities? Finally, we develop key implications from this shift in perspective for PR scholarship, education, and practice.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPublic Relations Inquiry
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)119-127
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021

Bibliographical note

Epub ahead of print. Published online: January 18, 2021.


  • Agency
  • Communicative institutionalism
  • Institutional theory
  • Organizational actorhood
  • Public relations

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