The role of the Intranet at Lonmin Platinum : the perceptions of middle management
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The rapid changes in the world of online technology during the last two decades brought along new challenges and opportunities for public relations practitioners. Literature has proven that the interactive capabilities of web-based technology have the possibility to build and maintain relationships with stakeholders and create two-way symmetrical communication opportunities. One such technology is an intranet, which could have an immense impact on an organisation's internal communication environment. If managed and applied correctly the intranet has the possibility to build two-way symmetrical relationships with an organisation's internal stakeholders - often described as one of the organisation's most strategic stakeholder groups. In this applied research study, the contribution of an international mining organisation's intranet to internal two-way symmetrical communication was explored and described. An extensive literature study was conducted to determine how an intranet could contribute theoretically to two-way symmetrical communication. The empirical findings were obtained by means of two main research methods: a qualitative content analysis and semi-structured interviews with middle management employees. The content analysis described how the basic principles of two-way symmetrical communication were applied on the Lonmin Platinum intranet. The semistructured interviews with middle management explored and described how they perceived and used the intranet with regard to two-way symmetrical communication. It was concluded that the Lonmin intranet did not contribute to two-way symmetrical communication. A critical conclusion is that an intranet as a mediated communication medium could not contribute to two-way symmetrical communication if the internal communication climate does not facilitate the specific values related to the Excellence Theory and two-way symmetrical communication principles. Another conclusion is that Lonmin's intranet was too technologically focussed. There was no management of strategic communication or ownership, and as a result the intranet did not contribute to two-way symmetrical communication in the organisation. It is suggested that future studies describe the contribution of the Lonmin intranet to two-way symmetrical communication after the communication department had commenced with strategic intranet management. The relation between the contribution of the intranet to two-way symmetrical communication in the organisation and the general communication climate could also be explored in future research studies.
- ETD@PUK