Price: 2000 Naira (BSC, MSC)
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1.1 Background of the Study
The phrase “community relations,” narrowly understood, simply describes a company’s interactions with the community in which it resides. The use of this phrase by businesses, the media, and students of business, however, almost always signifies something more than ordinary relationships and includes voluntary actions that either are (or can be interpreted as) done just for the good of the community. The phrase “community relations” has been defined several scholars in different fields of study. Cheryl (2000) defined community relations as the consequence of a generous corporate culture in which relations just happen to be helpful. He adds that a company or an organisation may have acquired a good reputation because it is always ready to help when asked in different ways—through people, money, or providing equipment.
The world is constantly becoming sophisticated, complex and dynamic. Public relations as a Profession have continued to play tremendous revolutionary roles in changing the face of the earth. As the human society becomes more challenging and complex, people become more enlightened and aware of their fundamental human rights. This has led to series of crisis and face off among business organizations and their host community.
There is no doubt that most of the activities of these organizations constitute a nuisance to the host inhabitants and put their health at great risk. The paramount objective of every business organization is profit maximization. This would not be achieved without serene business environment.
The concept of community relations is fundamental for effective public relations practice in every organization. The survival of any organization is contingent upon the measure of cordiality and continued acceptance it enjoys in its business premises. A company whose policies do not reflect the desires and aspirations of its host inhabitants is seriously inviting reprisal attack from the community. It is only through good community relations programme that company can improve the quality of life of the host inhabitants.
Community relations entail creating and sustaining environmental friendly programmes and actions of mutual benefit to both the organization and its host community. In business parlance, the transaction of these needs and expectations is regarded as “Corporate Philanthropy” (Nweke, 2001).
Corporate social responsibility 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 by meaningful contributing to the socio-economic development of that society.
Organizations that are socially responsible are always rewarded with favourable serene business environment. Those that are insensitive and don’t live up to expectation are faced with reprisal action. The favourable business atmosphere will make the responsive organizations to flourish, whereas the insensitive ones are distracted by the hostile attitude exhibited by the host community. Their prosperity and progress are stifled.
Good community relations ensure a well-planned and sustained corporate identity which inversely plays a paramount role in shaping the corporate image of an organization.
In Nigeria today, community relations is growing very fast and more interest is being taken by organizations and corporate bodies in this aspect of public relations. This is so because of some important factors (Osuji, 1999:951-99).
Today Nigeria’s economic survival is dependant on petroleum. Since the exploration and exploitation of crude oil which give the country major percentage of its income are carried on in rural communities with its attendant numerous risks, it becomes imperative that public relation practitioners in those organizations should give more attention to community relations.
Secondly, the oil installation and gas flaring that are located in these communities make the people vulnerable. It becomes important that adequate measures should be taken to reduce the risk of this vulnerability. The surest way is by designing and executing a good community relations strategy.
Thirdly, the constant leadership tussles, conflicts and youthful violent outburst among youths and community leaders could have carryover effect resulting to misdirected aggression against oil companies. Maintaining good rapport with these groups through excellent channel of communication which invariably must be a concomitant of effective community relations strategy.
This study therefore, will look into the assessment of community relations programmes of the federal medical centre abeokuta among host communities.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
People like Bittner (1989) argue that in a bid to ensure good community relations, organizations expend shareholders money, cut down workers’ salaries, waste precious time which should be used for other profitable things. He calls it “a fundamentally subversive doctrine which offers insoluble practical problems”.
While Nweke (2001:220) is of the view that compliance and noncompliance with the idea of corporate philanthropy determine the measure of goodwill, cordiality and continued acceptance an organization enjoys in its business premises.
The problem of this study is to ascertain the role Federal Medical Centre Abeokuta among Host Communities on their corporate image. The reasons behind the negative or positive public perception, about Federal Medical Centre Abeokuta.
As well as whether this is a result of its compliance or noncompliance to the business philosophy of corporate philosophy and the positive or negative attitude of the management and staff members towards the money expended on community relations.
Moreso, it will examine the extent to which these perceptions and attitude are capable of affective the success or failure of the organization.
1.3 Aim and Objective of the Study
The central goal of this study is to find out the assessment of community relations programmes of the federal medical centre Abeokuta among host communities; with the aim of evaluating their corporate philosophy, its benefits and peoples attitude towards federal medical centre Abeokuta. This would be achieved through the following objectives:
i. Assessing the community relations programmes of federal medical centre Abeokuta.
ii. Finding out people’s opinion and attitude toward federal medical centre Abeokuta as a corporate entity.
iii. Probing into the reasons for such perception about federal medical centre Abeokuta.
iv. Assessing the programmes of federal medical centre Abeokuta for enhancing the lives of its host community members in order to forestall crisis.
v. Making recommendations based on the research findings for effective community relations programmes /projects for federal medical centre Abeokuta.
1.4 Research Question
The following research questions will be answered through the study:
1. In what ways have federal medical centre Abeokuta maintained good relationship with its teaming publics and host community?
2. How do people, the stakeholders and staff, perceive there sources expended in ensuring good community relationship?
3. What are the expectations of the community members from federal medical centre Abeokuta in their community relations effort?
4. What role have community relations played on the corporate image of federal medical centre Abeokuta?
The hypotheses formulated for this study are:
H1 Federal medical centre Abeokuta maintained good relationship with its teaming publics and host community.
H0 Federal medical centre Abeokuta did not maintain good relationship with its teaming publics and host community.
H2 Community relations played a role on the corporate image of Federal medical centre Abeokuta with host communities.
H0 Community relations do not play a role on the corporate image of Federal medical centre Abeokuta with host communities.
1.5 Significant of the Study
This study is not only significant but absolutely essential, because it will help students or practitioners of public relations in diverse organizations to understand the usefulness of good community relations in the life of every organization.
Since public perception is very crucial in every organization, the study will help federal medical centre Abeokuta in understanding people’s feelings towards its community relations practice. Other organizations will see the findings useful as they will help them in ensuring good community relations in their host areas. The study will help in furtherance of knowledge in the areas of community relations and the emergent business ethnics of corporate social responsibility.
1.6 Scope/Delimitation of the Study
The scope of this study is centre on the assessment of community relations programmes of the Federal medical centre Abeokuta among host communities.
1.7 Limitation of the Study
The main constraint of the research is divided into the following parts.
Time constraints- due to the short time given for the study, the researcher could not get all the required information needed for the study.
Finance- as a result of money constraint the researcher had not enough money to carry out the study beyond the level. The researcher could not visit places where necessary information relevant to the study could be obtained.
1.8 Definition of Terms
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. It fosters and nurtures good neighbourliness in a reciprocal interest of both parties.
Corporate Identity: This means and also includes the totality of what an organization stands to its public and host community, how it does that, its communication process and environment. It serves as the forerunner to corporate image, it hits the soil for corporate image to grow without problem. This is seen by the physical manifestation of good deeds the organization does.
Corporate Image: This is the public perception of the organization. This sums up the impressions formed about an organization based on its corporate identity and general relationship with its public. It goes with mental perception.
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.
Crisis: Is any occurrence described as a turning point, for better or for worse with both negative and positive effects.
Host Community: This is a group of peoples residing in an environment where an organization operates.
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.
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