The purpose of this paper is to assess how expectation management can contribute strategically to communication management, and how understanding and managing expectations can increase organizations’ sensitivity toward stakeholder voices and concerns.
An example of mapping and identifying expectations is presented as a result of a thematic analysis of qualitative interview data, collected from six stakeholder groups of the media industry.
Expectation types and gaps can be identified through the use of systematic expectation mapping, conceptualized in this paper as “expectation management.” Expectation management analyzes expectation types and priorities, and it assists in crafting response strategies. Four types of expectations (must, will, should, and could) were identified in an empirical study of the media industry.
As the empirical study focussed on one industry in one country, the findings should be considered an introduction to expectation mapping and expectation management, to be further developed in other settings.
Organizations can gain strategic advantages by using expectation management to deepen communication management. New skills and processes may be needed to enable communication professionals to analyze and understand the core level of expectations.
Expectation management can help organizations respond to current societal pressures and help publics voice their concerns toward organizations.
A new concept with strategic value is presented. The reported study of mapping and identifying expectations helps to clarity and interpret factors that shape stakeholder relationships and satisfaction on a deeper level.
The research reported in this paper was conducted as part of a research project funded by the Helsingin Sanomat Foundation. The design and execution of the study was not influenced by the foundation, nor was there any influence in the decision to submit the paper for publication. The authors wish to express their gratitude to the 2012 World Public Relations Forum for an opportunity to develop this paper into a publication.
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