This study presents an exploration of the autonomy-dependence paradox inherent in organization-public relationships that is informed by paradox theory, structuration theory and scholarly and philosophical literature on authenticity. These theories suggest that relationships between organizations and their publics are defined by interdependence, or the centripetal and centrifugal forces of autonomy and dependence that cause tensions that can influence the decision making of the relational partners. They also suggest that organizations must use their agency, their knowledge of relational structures, and their understanding of their authentic selves to manage their own behavior and communication rather than that of their publics. The case studies presented in this paper were assembled from fourteen semi-structured in-depth interviews of museum professionals at the Brigham Young University Museum of Art, museum archival documents, and news media reports. The data shows that organizations can benefit from adopting a framework based paradox theory, structuration theory, and authentic leadership theory to avoid harmful defensive mechanisms and vicious cycles by seeking divergent solutions. The value of this study is that it illustrates how paradoxical tensions can influence the decision-making process in organizations, as well as the ways in which organizations can manage their own behavior and communication in spite of natural tendencies to manage and control stakeholders and publics. This study also shows a need for future research to explore other paradoxes in the field of public relations, conduct more case studies of different types of organizations, and develop methodologies to evaluate the effect of these strategies on the health of organization-public relationships.



College and Department

Fine Arts and Communications; Communications



Date Submitted


Document Type





public relations, paradox, organization-public relationships, autonomy, dependence, interdependence, structuration, authenticity, art museum, museum



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Communication Commons