Agency Experience: A Case Study of Leadership Development Within a High-Performing Public Relations Agency Public Deposited

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  • March 20, 2019
  • Remund, David L.
    • Affiliation: Hussman School of Journalism and Media
  • This dissertation examines agency experience as a means of leadership development for public relations professionals. This qualitative study draws upon field research conducted within one of America's largest public relations agencies. Observations were made for three consecutive weeks inside the agency's headquarters. In addition, one-on-one interviews were conducted with 28 employees of the agency, ranging from assistant account executives to senior vice presidents. Findings reveal that agency professionals, particularly those in the first five years of their career, gain leadership competencies by handling a heavy, complex, and often diverse workload, and from working in a team-oriented, inclusive environment that expects self-motivation. As a whole, the agency setting provides an environment where emerging leaders feel safe speaking their minds. Formal leaders set the tone by coaching others, contributing to strategic development and project direction, and clarifying situations that inevitably develop during the course of implementation. Some of these findings are consistent with related studies in other industries regarding work experience and psychological safety; other findings seem unique to the public relations business. This case study sheds light on what agency experience means for leadership development in one agency. Insights provide baseline knowledge upon which further research can be conducted regarding other agencies and other types of organizations.
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  • In Copyright
  • "... in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication."
  • Boynton, Lois A.
Place of publication
  • Chapel Hill, NC
  • Open access

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