1.1   Background to the Study

The complex nature of the business world, coupled with economic, social and environmental inequalities have raised the issue of community relations and organizational productivity. From time immemorial, organisations have tried in one way or the other to be identified by the community where they are operating. Therefore, public relations becomes a major tool in building good relations with the organizations’ various publics (community), by obtaining favourable publicity, building up a good organizational productivity, and handling, or heading off unfavourable rumours, stories and events, (Kotler and Armstrong, 2006). Organisation or company depend on a favourable community relations to succeed.

Therefore, the purpose of public relations practice to community relations is to establish a two-way communication flow that will help to create and sustain mutual relationship and understanding between the organisation and the host community. This implies that communities are the main part of business plan that help in promoting the sustainable development of business activities of corporate organisations through partnership activities that help them to realised their potentials  to live a better life and prepare the future for  generation yet unborn. The respect of the culture of our community is part of the global plan for symbiotic relationship between humanity and its society for the progress of all (Chiejina, 2001).

The above assertion explains the importance of why every organisation should be responsible and responsive to the host community to ensure a proper balance of business activities that promote their corporate image or organizational productivity in the eyes of the community members.

Corporate organisations need to take community relations programmes as part of their “Corporate Social Responsibility”, if it is to sustain their growth. As part of their social responsibilities, they must sponsor community-oriented programmes. One of the channel through which organisations reach out to their host communities are through a deliberate community relations strategy, usually facilitated by Public Relations department of the organisations (Ajayi, 2001).

In the early 1900s, the mission of business firm was exclusively economic. Today, partly due to the interdependence of the many groups in our society, the social involvement of business has increased through proactive community relations programmes. The imperativeness of community relations actually necessitates their full involvement in socially oriented programmes in the host communities.

The concept of social responsibility which stimulates community relations programmes among most companies is not new. Although the idea was already considered in the early part of the 20th century, the discussion of community relations programmes by organisations got a major impetus with the book “Social Responsibilities of Businessmen” by Howard Bowen, who suggested that businesses should consider social implications of their decisions (Koontz and Weilrich, 2006).

These appears to be no consensus among researchers on the specific meanings of social responsibility which gives birth to community relations. It has been agreed by many that corporate social responsibility is seriously a means of considering the impact of the company’s action on society (Steiner, 2003). In addition, some researchers have viewed community relations programmes as pragmatic attempts by organisations to be socially responsive; which also in simple terms means, “the ability of a corporation to relate its operations and policies to the social environment in ways that are mutually beneficial to the company and the society” (Paluszek, 1999).

There have been protracted argument on why business organisations should embark on community relations activities irrespective of the diversity in activities. Today, many businesses are involved in social actions through community relations programmes. A decision as to whether companies should extend their social involvement in their host communities requires careful examination in order to establish benefits, to both the organisation and the communities. According to Keith (2004), society’s expectation is changing and the trend seems to be towards greater social responsiveness.

He noted further that most observers of business relationship between the society and organisations consider social responsibility through involvement in community oriented project as a legitimate and achievable aims for business (Keith, 2004). However, the involvement of organisations in community projects should not jeopardise their vision and mission.

For instance, the mission of police department is protection, safety and welfare of the people. The mission of a state highway department is the design and construction of highways.

Thus, we should not hold business organisations responsible for solving all social problems in the community. Some writers like Millins (1999) and Schein (2009) have argued against making it the job of businesses to furnish public schools, education or the many other things, like police and fire protection, that the government provides. But business like any other type of organisation, must interact with, and live inits environment (Ben-Eluwa, 2000).

Whether business organisations achieve their vision, and how they do so, are matters of great social importance. A society expects and deserves the accomplishment of the vision of approved enterprises. This implies that managers must take into account elements in their surroundings that are important to others who may be affected by the actions they take. In other words, business organisations respond to their environment and become active participant in the community to improve the quality of life. This is what they must do, since the survival of their enterprise depends upon successful interaction with all environmental elements in the community.

Furthermore, to live within a community and be responsive to it does not mean that organisations should merely react to everything. Since no enterprise can be expected to react very quickly to unforeseen developments, an enterprise must practise ways anticipating development through forecast (Steiner, 2003).     

An alert organisation for instance, does not wait until its product is obsolete and sale volume reduced before coming up with improved product. However Heritage Polytechnic management have found it as an advantage in boasting their sale volume through corporate social responsibility to their host community which have positively enhanced their organizational productivity. Therefore Heritage Polytechnic seek approval and recognition for their organizational productivity and corporate image through proactive community relations projects. If positive organizational productivity and success is measured in terms of pollution control, human capacity building and rehabilitation in the society, financial support for individual in the community, and employee seeking university education, and other intervention programmes by organisations, managers will strive to achieve them to build positive organizational productivity for their organisation and public acceptability. Finally, the research is focus on community relations and organizational productivity of Heritage Polytechnic.

1.2     Statement of the Problem

The decisions and actions of management in the organisation have an increasing impact on individuals, other organisations and the community (Worthington, 2005). The power and influence which many business organisations now exercise should be tempered by an attitude of responsibility by management. In striving to attain its goal and achieve its objectives, the organisation cannot operate from the environment of which it is part. The organisation requires the use of factors of production and other facilities of the society. The economic efficiency of organisation is affected by governmental, social, technical and cultural variables (Friedman, 2005).

However, the main problems of the studyis to evaluate ifHeritage Polytechnic employ community relation strategies with her host communitywith a view to know the factors and the performance of the community relations strategies; investigate the prospects and potentials of community relation strategies so as to assess the major advantage of adopting community relations programmes as image boosters; to examine the constraints faced in the effort of adopting community relations as a significant corporate communications approach and  investigate the degree of community relations applicability in promoting mutual relationship, organizational productivity and corporate image building.

Heritage Polytechnic as corporate organisation have some responsibility to society, to respect environmental factors and take care of amenities. Such responsibilities to the host communities by organisation can be categorised as: preventing the effect of noise pollution, sitting and appearance of new buildings and avoidance of radioactive materials on the environment.   

1.3     Objective of the Study

The research objectives include the following:

  1. To find out if Heritage Polytechnic employ community relations strategies with her host community.
  2. To examine the extent to which Heritage polytechnic employ community relations strategies with her host community.
  3. To determine the community relation strategies employed by Heritage Polytechnic Eket to enhance organizational.
  4. To ascertain if community relations enhances organizational productivity in Heritage Polytechnic.
  5. To discover the extent to which community relations enhances organizational productivity in Heritage Polytechnic.
  6. To identify other factors that enhance organizational productivity in Heritage Polytechnic aside community relations.

1.4     Research Question

For the purpose of this study, the following questions have been raised by the researcher:

  1. Does Heritage Polytechnic employ community relations strategies with her host community?
  2. To what extent has Heritage polytechnic employ community relations strategies with her host community?
  3. What is the community relation strategies employed by Heritage Polytechnic Eket to enhance organizational?
  4. Does community relations enhances organizational productivity in Heritage Polytechnic?
  5. To what extent has community relations enhances organizational productivity in Heritage Polytechnic?

1.5     Research Hypotheses

In the process of implementing the procedure of this research, the hypothesis of this study is stated below:

Community relations significantly enhances organizational productivity in Heritage Polytechnic.

1.6     Justification of the Study

In spite of available research efforts on how organisation’s community relations programmes affect the perception and evaluation of their corporate image and organizational productivity, specific impact of community relations programme need to be more effectively researched and focused upon by researchers in the field of public relations and organizational communication. Therefore, the focus of the current research effort is to contribute to the existing body of knowledge in the area investigated.

This study is significant as it will help to evaluate organizational productivity in relation to their community relations approaches. It is also significant in exposing the actual perception and attitudes of the host communities towards the organisation.

Apart from its contribution to organisation realigning their community relations strategies to win support and mutual understanding, the study also stand to benefit from the findings for future references.

It is also significant as it will be a means by which government and mediating agencies could look through in times of crisis between organisations and host communities to resolve such conflict.  By it government will design a possible community guideline in helping both the organisation and the community.

The essence of public relations is the creation and maintenance of good and favourable image for a body or institution. Finally, it will help provide an effective way of image making to any institution that aspires to meet goals of its business.  

1.7     Delimitations of the Study

This study was limited to community relations and organizational productivity of Heritage Polytechnic Eket, Akwa Ibom State and not the whole of Nigeria. Only one Local Government were used instead of the whole Local Governments in Akwa Ibom State. The study was also carried out with focus on how community relations in the areas of health care, road maintenance, provision of water, rural electrification, education, and environmental protection have affected their organizational productivity.

        The work does not intend to cover all the community relations strategies in adopted by schools in Akwa Ibom State, rather it focuses on Heritage Polytechnic. Again, the study is delimited to residents in Ikot Udota only.

1.8     Limitations of the Study

As survey study, the enlarged size of the population of the host communities constituted a lot of limitations in terms of penetration to get information. Besides, time and fund were clearly seen just as dearth of materials as the field is still barren in terms of detailed study in the past.

1.9     Definition of Terms

To clarify meaning, it is pertinent to present and explain some terms used in the study to the level that will facilitate understanding of the inherent ideas. The terms include the following:

Host Community: This is a group of peoples residing in an environment where an organization operates.

Crisis: Is any occurrence described as a turning point, for better or for worse with both negative and positive effects.

Publics: These are various groups of people who may directly or indirectly be affected by the activities of an organization. They include the shareholders, employees, host community inhabitants and contractors. 

Community Relations: It is a public relations activity that tends to create and sustain environmental friendly programmes and actions of mutual benefits to both the organizations and its host community.

Corporate Identity: This includes the totality of what an organization stands to its public and host community, how it does that, its communication process and environment.

Corporate Image: This sums up the impressions formed about an organization based on its corporate identity and general relationship with its public.

Corporate Social Responsibility: This is a business philosophy which is of the view that organizations in the pursuance of their profit motive ought to be responsive to the needs of the society, socially and economically.