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Public relations interactions with Wikipedia

Gareth Thompson (London College of Communication, University of the Arts London, London, UK)

Journal of Communication Management

ISSN: 1363-254X

Article publication date: 1 February 2016




The purpose of this paper is to consider the relevance of the institutional analysis and development (IAD) framework (Ostrom, 1990) in understanding the incentives for public relations (PR) practitioners’ interactions with Wikipedia, and other common-pool media.


This interdisciplinary conceptual paper applies the economics theory of commons governance to two case studies of PR interactions with Wikipedia.


The analysis concludes that commons governance theory identifies the downside risks of opportunistic behaviour by PR practitioners in their interactions with media commons such as Wikipedia. The paper concludes that Ostrom’s IAD model is relevant to the governance of PR interactions and offers guidance on productive PR practice in common-pool media.

Research limitations/implications

The analysis was applied to only two cases for which information was widely available.

Practical implications

The paper includes implications for the scope of PR practice in its interactions with common-pool media. The economic value of information held by PR professionals has been undermined by the collaborative nature of common-pool media, which has consequences for the role of PR.


The paper introduces an economic theory and related literature to PR scholarship and applies them to PR practice. The paper aims to stimulate further research into the application of economic ideas to PR practice and to encourage discussion on the place of economic theory in PR knowledge.



This project received funding from London College of Communications research office, part of the University of the Arts London (UAL) research community (


Thompson, G. (2016), "Public relations interactions with Wikipedia", Journal of Communication Management, Vol. 20 No. 1, pp. 4-20.



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Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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