Chapter OneIntroductionThis study attempts to explore the potential and impact of “Dagu” in Community Relations. In doing so, the present study plans to assess how Dagu communication functions within the Afar community, and identify its role and impact in community relations in governmental organizations. To address these issues, both quantitative and qualitative research methods employing questionnaire and in-depth interview were employed.
Background of the studyPublic relations (PRs) is a management function that helps achieve organizational objectives, define philosophy, and facilitate organizational change (Baskin, Aronoff and Lattimore (1997, p.5). PRs consists of all forms of planned communication, outward and inward, between an organization and its publics for the purpose of achieving specific objective concerning mutual understanding (Jefkins, 1983, p.1). According to Baskin et al (1997, p.13), public relations practitioners communicate with all relevant internal and external publics to develop positive relationships and to create consistency between organizational goals and societal expectations.
Public relations practitioners develop, execute and evaluate organizational programs that promote the exchange of influence and understanding among an organization’s constituent parts and publics. Other scholars such as Cutlip et al (2006) see public relations as a systematic effort to establish and maintain mutually beneficial relationship between an organization and its publics. Public relations has many function in which the practitioners perform their particular tasks for particular purpose. Community relations is one of the many functions, that the practitioners practice to enhance communication between the organization and surrounding community and build relations with active and passive community.
Public Relations involve working with public opinion (Dominick, 1993) and public relations professionals attempt to influence public opinion in a way that is positive to the organization.Public Relations is also interested in information gathering from the public and interpreting that information for top management as it relates to management decisions.
According to Van den Ban ; Hawkins (1996), interest in the use of indigenous media is now increasing in less developed countries as a credible and acceptable source of informationbecause mass media have been less successful in promoting rural development (Van den Ban ; Hawkins, 1996; Yahaya, 2003). Communication planners should therefore not overlookthe significant role indigenous forms such as theatre, drama, puppet shows, drumming, village criers, storytellers, orators, songs, using a bell, folk tales, proverbs and announcements (Kamlongera ; Mwanza, 1993; Mundy ; Compton, 1991) have played and continue to play in communication among rural and poor communities (Mushengyezi, 2003).
Any organization operating in indigenous community needs to be understood by its external society. This task is operated by PR practitioner. The organization and its community, to understand each other, organization should utilize the traditional means of communication, so that indigenous community can have close relationship with it.
Every human society has developed its indigenous and traditional modes and channelsof communication which characterize its existence, organization and development. These communication modes and channels form the basis upon which the communities,especially the rural community, progress. Policy makers,planners and administrators,desirous to effect functional economic and social changes, must first identify suchcommunity communication modes and channels and utilize them to provide thepeople with maximum information about such changes.
Long before, when technology was not introduced, people used to communicate and passinformation through a messenger; however information transfer mechanism varies fromsociety to another based on its norms and cultures. In the Afar community, for instance, passingmessage through messenger is called Dagu (Winta, 2010).Concerning their pattern of communication, the Afar people have a popular Dagu communication whereby they communicate the issues concerning them and their surrounding (Gulilat, 2006, Winta, 2010, Moges, 2013).
Dagu is native communication tool of the Afar people in Djibouti, Eritrea and Ethiopia. In earlytimes, Dagu helped the Afar people to be in touch with happenings around and at distant. It is a traditional face-to-face interaction where people reveal a genuine information curiosity to hear/know about, new or unheard things particularly, so as to prevent the community from possible dangers (Gulalit, 2006). According to Kelemwork (2011), Dagu is an important traditional instrument for communication among the Afar people and is used in place of modern communication technology. The information transferring process among the Afar has its own rules and regulations to be abide by. Anyone who passes information through Dagu has to be able to verify the information and be able to answer cross-checking questions if it is needed (Winta, 2010).
The governmental organizations existing in the Afar National Regional State (ANRS) communicate their messages through traditional media? (Television, Radio, Newspaper, etc.) and other new technologies without considering its accessibility in rural environment and appropriateness to pastoral community. This initiated the researcher to conduct the present study on exploring the potential and impact of Dagu communication in community relations. Statement of the problem
Statement of the problemAlthough indigenous based traditional communication is vital to build good relationship, the absence of adapting this type of indigenous communication in an organization could result in the ineffective communication between organization and the community in which it operates. Public relations is all about good will and building positive attitudes across the audiences that an organization depends upon for success. Particularly, in communities that heavily rely on traditional face-to-face oral communication, the effectiveness of the organization in meeting its developmental objectives could be compromised.
Mainstream media such as radio, television, newspapers, and books are the most common methods of transmitting information to large numbers of people. A great deal of time and money has been spent promoting messages through them in attempts to reach such technology users. Some organizations have recently tried to transmit their own messages to their peers through these media by arranging access, and some serious attempts have been made to facilitate dialogue rather than monologues (Mundy and Lloyd-Laney, 1992).
Indigenous’ communication, however, does not take place through newspapers, radio, or extension organizations. It occurs within families, at meetings of village organizations, in the market-place, or at the well. Much of this communication is informal, interpersonal, oral rather than written, controlled locally rather than by outsiders, and uses no, or low levels of technology (Ibid). The Afar people heavily rely on such face-to-face oral communication (which they call Dagu) as the commonest type of communication.
In Afar people, modern mass media are not widespread. Electricity is rare commodity and television is not an issue. Newspapers are to a small extent distributed outside the big cities in Ethiopia, and there are no big cities in this part of the country. Radio sets, on the other hand, do exist in Afar, but not even close to the average distribution of radios in rural Africa. Also, the expense and poor availability of batteries as well as limited broadcasts in the Afar region make radio a less attractive medium in this region (Gulilat and Terje, 2008). Despite all these the Afar people possess a sophisticated traditional system for news exchange.
Although Dagu could literally be translated as ‘news’, it is more than a package of hard or soft news. It is a social institution with particular purposes in the daily life of the Afars (Ibid). It is evident that Afar people are pastoralists and they live in rural area. They do not give attention for the radio and television rather they prefer to receive and pass information through Dagu (Gulilat and Terje, 2008).
Information is highly valued among Afar people; first-hand information is given even much emphasis via Dagu. Interestingly, Dagu is not considered an alternative mode of communication for Afar people as it is the case for other urban-dominated nations. It is rather, a major means of news exchange, which is different from an ordinary face-to-face communication that include rumor and gossip as ends. According to Jemal (2011), Dagu communication is similar with journalistic practice than models of mass communication flow. He also described that Dagu communication is interactive (multi-way). Furthermore, he explored that Afar people have a well-developed oral culture where a word-of-mouth plays the most important role in connecting, informing and educating especially about accounts of current events.
In this regard, it seems that local organizations (governmental or non-governmental) could utilize Dagu communication system to communicate with indigenous community during their intervention or operation instead of mainstream media and/or new media. According to Gulilat (2006), Dagu can be nicely adapted to any HIV/AIDS communication approach, model or theory so as to plan an intervention which could involve the people as agents of their own change. Its flexibility all-inclusiveness and familiarity makes Dagu a relatively cheap tool of HIV communication.
As community relation is built through effective communication, applying a right mode of communication is mandatory, and thus Dagu may be taken as a better alternative. However, if this indigenous communication system is ignored, the core aim of the intervention may not be addressed effectively. Moreover, Information, that the organizations are dispatching, may not be accurately reach the target publics and hence, community relations between the organizations and pastoral community may not be facilitated and strengthened.
To the best of the researcher’s knowledge, no previous investigation has been conducted to find out the potential and perceived impact of Dagu, in public relations with a focus on community relations. Therefore, this study is aimed at assessing the capabilities of Dagu as adaptable form of communication by which PR practitioners utilize to communicate with rural Afar people.
Research questionsTo undertake this study, the researcher plans to answer the following questions.
How does Dagu function between the rural community and selected regional sector bureaus?
What is the role of Dagu in community relation in selected regional sector bureaus?
What is the perceived impact of Dagu on PR practice of selected regional sector bureaus
What is the PR practitioners’ impression of Dagu in community relations of selected regional sector bureaus?
What mediums of communication do the selected regional sector bureaus use to communicate with the community?
Objective of the studyGeneral objectiveThe general objective of this study is to explore the potential and perceived impact of Dagu communication in community relations in the Afar National Regional State.
Specific objectivesThe specific objectives of this study are:
To assess how Dagu functions betweenselected regional sector bureaus and the community.
To identify the role of Dagu in community relations in selected regional sector bureaus
To reveal the perceived impact of Dagu in PR practice of selected regional sector bureaus
To assess the PR practitioners’ impression of Daguin community relations in selected regional sector bureaus
Significance of the studyThe researcher anticipates that this study will help significantly the body of knowledge, further researchers and concerned institution as well as general community of Afar National Regional State (ANRS) since Dagu communication is the indigenous communication of Afar peoples.
First and for most, it will contribute for every government and non-government organizations found in ANRS — which are practicing PR. Indeed, it will advocate the preservation of indigenous mode of communication in the study area.
In doing so, it will point out the role of Dagudue to that the PR practitioners will be able to utilize it as communication and information exchange with immediate community. In other words, it will highlight the importance of Dagu as a relevant communication tool in building community relations for PR practitioners.
It will give theoretical insight regarding the importance of taking up alternative approach to community relations in traditional settings and pastoral community where interactive face-to-face form of communication is valued (Afar People).
Moreover, it shades light on the social custom of the Afar people particularly regarding means of information exchange. Thus, it will benefit PR practitioners who are likely to have contact with the host community in community relations context thereby to handle effective communication between organization and the community.
Finally, but not least, this study will contribute for the research community in letting them to do further research on Dagu communication from Public Relation perspective. It will also provide valuable insights to the scholars to develop Dagu communication theory that will underpin current public relations thinking and practice, and illustrate the role of indigenous communication of Afar people in PR context.
Scope of the studyThough the potential of Dagu communication might be extended to different disciplines, this study is limited in exploring the potential and impact of Dagu communication in community relations: PR function. Nowadays government organization in general and public sectors in particular as well as micro-business and macro-business organizations and non-governmental organizations practice PR, even though the practice is ineffective.
This study will be delimited to Government organizations in ANRS, particularly selected bureaus which have close and frequent contact with rural (pastoralists) community. The researcher will only study the potential and impact of Dagu communication with reference to PR.
Operational definitionsRole:the role of Dagu is used broadly to indicate the performance of Daguas communication medium.
Potentials:the capabilities of Dagu in conventionality to be adapted as alternative means of communicating different message to indigenous pastoral community and encompassing capacities of Dagu by facilitating, fostering, strengthen communication, and building close relationships between sector bureaus and local community.
Impact:the impression of Dagu to foster two-way communication between sector office and rural indigenous community or perceived negative effect on communication between sector bureaus and local community if ignored.
Function:the utilization of Dagu as form of Afar indigenous communication within rural community and between sector bureaus
Community relations:Community Relations: social outreach programs sector bureaus establish to build relations and credibility, as well as foster an understanding of the role and responsibility Afar regional sector bureaus have to its local community.The term ‘community relations’ is used broadly to indicate work that involves facilitating and/or managing relationships andinteraction between each sector bureaus and local communities of ANRS.
Dagu:two-way communication form of Afar people by which they learn new events and build strong relations with other partner.
Chapter TwoIntroductionIn this part the research will discuss the existing literature related to the topic being undertaking and draw appropriate framework to give baseline for undertaking research and argue reasonably regarding particular dimension of the topic. The definitions of terms, theories and models of PR will be presented to strength the argument of the research and show the gap of before conducted researches which are related to this topic.
Public Relations and Communication The concept of Public Relations (PR) in communication has many interpretations. A Public Relations veteran has compiled 500 definitions. These include the definition of Public Relations as the art of doing well and getting credit for it.
Dominick (1993) posits that practitioners are generally agreed that Public Relations involve working with public opinion. Public Relations professionals attempt to influence public opinion in a way that is positive to the organization. Public Relations is also interested in information gathering from the public and interpreting that information for top management as it relates to management decisions. It is concerned with communication.
Dagu communication is most appropriate to do the same practice. In other word, Afar people are unflagging enthusiastic to get news which involves new events from political, economic and social spheres (Morell, 2005). Whatever the Afar people wants to decide on certain issue they engage in finding the existing situation before deciding on it. PR practice shows that before deciding on certain issue, the practitioners scan the environment proactively. In this sense Dagu communication, by default, play significant role in scanning the environment proactively.
People are interested in what an organization is doing to meet their concerns and interests. It is a Public Relations function to explain the organization’s actions to various publics involved with the organization through a two-way communication channel that pays attention to the thoughts and feelings of the organization’s publics. It is a two-way conduit between an organization and its publics – internal and external.
When it is said, people are interested in what an organization is doing to meet their concern and interests, it refers to how the organization build relations with its publics through providing information about what an organization doing for the sake of the community. To make this process effective it needs two-communication channel.
From PR aspect, the organizations and/or institutions should practice symmetrical mode of PR – two-way symmetrical communication. Thus, they can there utilize a channel that enables them to communicate their content to the publics and receive feedback from target publics.
Windahl and Signitzer (1992) point out that there are two main traditions in definingcommunication – the one-way transmission model and the two-way exchange concept.They quote Theodorsen and Theodorsen (1992: 6) who define communication as’the transmission of information, ideas, attitudes, or emotion from one person or groupto another (or others) primarily through symbols’. The Shannon–Weaver model ofcommunication illustrates this approach (see p. 21). In contrast, Rogers and Kincaiddefine communication as ‘a process in which the participants create and share information with one another in order to reach a mutual understanding’ (quoted in Windahl andJohanna FawkesSignitzer 1992: 6). This is quite close to Grunig’s two-way symmetric model examined below. Before looking at more models it’s worth clarifying a few terms.
Some few researcher conducted researches on Dagu communication, so there is one research that pointed out that Dagu communication, unlike traditional media, is interactive and multi-way communication network (Jemal, 2011). It is face-to-face; there is high tendency to know whether the information received as intended. In other word, it fosters mutual understanding and effective relationships between organization and its publics.
Traditional PR Vs. Modern PRAccording to Jefkins (1983:1),”public relations consists of all forms of planned communication, outward and inward, between an organization and its publics for the purpose of achieving specific objective concerning mutual understanding. “Baskin, Aronoff and Lattimore (1997:5) in their definition state that “public relations is a management function that helps achieve organizational objectives, define philosophy, and facilitate organizational change.” The Public Relations Society of America(PRSA) presents PR as encompassing “counseling management at all level in the organization with regard to policy decisions, courses of action, and communication, taking into account their public ramifications and the organization’s social or citizenship responsibilities” (Adelabu, 2008: 621 ).
In public relations, deliberate effort is made to arrange communication elements in such a way that is appealing to its public. Media messages are presented in creative ways so as to connect with the emotions of the audience. This is another artistic aspect of public relation. Considering the fact that the audience does not necessarily want to read, watch or listen to PR messages, the success ofthe messages will depend on how appealing they are. The strength of public relations as an art lies in its mode of expression.
Government Public relationsPublic relations is a mutual interaction process which covers bilateral relations between the institution and its surroundings. In this interaction process the organization gives information about the purposes, policies, activities, and administrative structure of the corporation or corporation.
Public relations is the corporation’s efforts to familiarize and evaluate of the surroundings. Public relations is permanent and dynamic communication process which includes carrying messages to the environment, collecting information and feedback from them, evaluating corporation’s strategy and activities. Convincing is the backbone of the public relations. Persuasiveness, supporting, honesty are the main characteristics of this social science branch (Bursa, 1982).
In this regard, most of sector bureaus of Afar region have their own public relations office. It is PR practitioners that operate in communication aspect. A public relations campaign starts with a research. All target audiences (Rural Afar people) of the sector bureaus and their behavior, their view should be the subject of the research. Collected information should be analyzed to get the picture of government organizations with its weaknesses and strong points.
When PR practitioner aimed at conducting research they observe the social activities and the trends in the environment. This research serves as an early warning system for the every sector bureaus accordingly.
Secondly, they assess the information about people’s perception of the sector bureaus operating for their well-being. In this kind of research, information is gathered by public poll surveys applied to the target audience.
Thirdly, the practitioners make communication research to determine the efficiency of the instruments used by the organization for internal and external communication. From this, they came to determine the tools that indigenous rural Afar people utilize to communicate any concern in their daily life. Thus, they should make appropriate selection of communication instrument that best fits with pastoralist who rely on traditional face-to-face communication.
Mainly based on word of mouth, the Afar society has been using Dagu’s network, which “is a highly developed traditional system of information management” (Chege et al., 2004, p. 29). In most parts of the world, news is communicated through mass media – radio, television, newspaper and the Internet. Usually through these channels, the news goes to its target audience. In the Afar society, however, the reverse is true. It is the Afars that go to the news and it is Dagu – word of mouth – that communicates the news.
It is through Dagu that they Afars learn of anynewcomers to their desert realm, of the conditions ofwater holes and grazing lands, of missing camels andcaravans. They learn of weddings and funerals, of newalliances and betrayals, of the latest battles fought, and theconditions of the trail ahead (Morell, 2005, as cited in Jemal, 2006).
Besides, recent studies on theAfar society make a remarkable reference to Dagu by consideringit not only as a good source of information that serves the Afarpeople but also as a communication system that has a latentpotential as a means of development (see Kelemework, 2011;Chege et al., 2004).
This study brought the significance of Dagu as dormant potential as a means of different development work. To this end, PR practitioner working in any sector bureaus as communication technician should consider this form of communication which existing since immemorial in the surrounding environment. The sector bureaus perhaps will make best choice of appropriate media to communicate with pastoralist who do have credible and truth worth information exchange.
Four model of Public Relations2
Dominant “Win-Win” ZonePublic’sPositionCoalition’s Position
Organization’s PositionMixed MotivePublic’s PositionDominates (Asymmetric)(Symmetric)Dominates (Asymmetric)
No. Type of Practice Explanation
1 Pure AsymmetryModel Communication used to dominate public, acceptdominant coalition’s position
2 Pure CooperationModel Communication used to convince dominant coalitionto cave in to public’s position
3 Two-Way Model Communication used to move public, dominantcoalition, or both to acceptable “win-win” zone
FIGURE 2.1New Model of Symmetry as Two-Way Practice
One of the most useful ways of thinking about public relations has been through the description of public relations models that identify the central ideas of public relations and how they are related to each other. In 1984 James E. Grunig and Todd Hunt proposed four models of public relations that are based on communication, research, and ethics. Since that time Grunig and a team of scholars have proposed new models that have enriched our understanding of how public relations is practiced.
The original four models were press agentry, public information, the two-way asymmetrical model, and the two-way symmetrical model. The first three models reflect a practice of public relations that attempts through persuasion to achieve the organization’s goals. The fourth focuses on balancing self-interests and the interests of the other group or public.
Press agentry is the model where information moves one way—from the organization to its publics. It is perhaps the oldest form of public relations and is synonymous with promotions and publicity. Public relations practitioners operating under this model are always looking for opportunities to get their organization’s name favorably mentioned in the media. They do not conduct much research about their publics beyond “counting the house.” This model includes propaganda tactics such as use of celebrity names and attention-gaining devices such as giveaways, parades, and grand openings. Although press agents are not unethical, they don’t desire to be ethical either. The louder the noise, the more attention-getting the story, whether true or face, the better they are doing their jobs.
Public information differs from press agentry because the intent is to inform rather than to press for promotion and publicity, but the communication is still essentially one-way. Today this model represents public relations practices in government, educational institutions, non-profit organizations, and even in some corporations. Practitioners operating under this model do very little research about their audiences beyond testing the clarity of their messages. They are “journalists-in-residence,” who value accuracy but decide what information is best to communicate to their publics.
The two-way asymmetrical model considers public relations to be scientific persuasion. This model employs social science research methods to increase the persuasiveness of messages. Public relations practitioners use surveys, interviews, and focus groups to measure public relationships so the organization can design public relations programs that will gain the support of key publics. Although feedback is built into the process, the organization is much more interested in having the public’s adjust to the organization than the reverse.
The two-way symmetrical model depicts a public relations orientation in which organizations and their publics adjust to each other. It focuses on the use of social science research methods to achieve mutual understanding and two-way communication rather than one-way persuasion. In 2001 James E. Grunig created other names for the symmetrical model: mixed motives, collaborative advocacy, and cooperative antagonism. His intent was to present a model that “balanced self-interests with the interest of others in a give-and-take process that can waver between advocacy and collaboration.”29 Grunig argued that this model was the most ethical because all groups were part of the resolution of problems.
In 1995 David M. Dozier, Larissa A. Grunig, and James E. Grunig presented a new model of public relations that came from their research on excellence in public relations and communication management. They found in a study of 321 organizations in three countries that public relations practitioners who exhibited the most effective or excellent public relations practices used the “new model of symmetry as two-way practice.” This depiction of public relations placed the organization and its publics on a continuum (see figure 2.1).
Because in the best practice of public relations, public relations practitioners and their supervisors reported using both two-way symmetrical and two-way asymmetrical models, Dozier, Grunig, and Grunig reasoned that given each specific public relations situation, organizations and their publics would seek to persuade each other as much as possible. They are pictured at opposite ends of the continuum, either as a pure asymmetry model in which the dominant coalition tries to force a public into accepting the organization’s position or as a pure cooperation model in which the public uses communication to convince the dominant coalition to accept the public’s position. The middle of the continuum is the “win-win” zone in which the organization and the public use communication to achieve a decision acceptable to both sides. This new model advances our thinking about the practice of public relations because it considers both parties in the public relations situation. Because the organization and its publics will be employing communication strategies as well, we have to be as savvy about our publics’ communication strategies as we are our own. See spotlight 3.2 for James E.Grunig’s most recent theories of public relations.
Best practices in public relations suggest that a symmetrical system for communication is desirable in an organization. Two-way symmetrical model allows for more input from publics that can provide innovative solutions and corrective discourse, both essential for sound strategic PR management. An impediment to the symmetric model is imbalance in power among the publics` and in their relationship to management. Nevertheless the symmetrical model is offered here as one to which an organization can aspire (Newsom, Turk and Cruckeberg 2004:118). There is a movement throughout the world from one-way to two-way communication and more emphasis on knowledge and persuasion as a part of relationship building (Ibid: 354).
The two-way symmetric model is marked by its interactive characteristic. No longer are communications with publics asymmetrical: instead, they are truly two-sided (Botan and Hazleton 1989:285-286). In the two-way symmetric model both the flow of communication and influence between the organization and its publics is more balanced. Grunig and Huntrefer to a desired state of mutual understanding that is quite similar to what other authors (Cutlip, Center and Broom, 1985; Simon 1984) have referred to as social responsibility.
Communication must be a two-way process-otherwise strictly speaking, it is not communications. Feedback is vitally important to check how well your messages are accepted by the audiences you are trying to influence (Haywood 2002:22). In this role, practitioners serve as the catalyst for conflict resolution and consensus. Their goal is to encourage two-way communication that leads to mutual understanding and cooperation (Guth and Marsh 2005:7). The heart of professional approach to PR concerns openness between the organization and its publics (Folkerts and Lacy: 387).
Some researcher has discovered that Dagu communication (indigenous communication of Afar people) is characterized by two-way (multi-way) communication which enables curiosity of information and un-cover misunderstanding of an intended message. This traditional means of communication foster mutual understanding between the people who engaged in practicing it.
It is also stated that Dagu communication is interactive. Hence, it is rigor to achieve intended goal concerning communication that occur between GOs and its community.
Moreover, Dagu communication includes communication ethics and research. Speaking of communication ethics, Afar people maintain culturally constructed rules and regulations of communication while exchanging information through their traditional way of communication (Dagu). For instance, giving misleading information is unethical and an individual who pass false information will be isolated from the community. To that end, no one will trust him again and labeled as layer.
Organizations having particular and different objectives as well as different types of activities, utilize one of these models to communication with publics. Symmetrical model of PR is considered as ideal because it balances the organizations and public interest. It also emphasizes on mutual understanding between the organization and its publics.
Theoretical frameworkThe theoretical framework basis for this study will be derived from the system theory linked to two-way communication and community relations (PR functions). There are two theories of relationships – system theory and situational theory. Systems theory is useful in public relations because it gives us a way to think about relationships. Generally, systems theory looks at organizations as made up of interrelated parts, adapting and adjusting to changes in the political, economic, and social environments in which they operate.
Grunig, Grunig, and Dozier state that the systems perspective emphasizes the interdependence of organizations with their environments, both internal and external to the organization. According to the systems perspective, organizations depend on resources from their environments, such as “raw materials, a source of employees, and clients or customers for the services or products they produce. The environment needs the organization for its products and services.” Organizations with open systems use public relations people to bring back information on how productive their relationships are with clients, customers, and other stakeholders.
On the other hand, Dagu communication is excellent way of communicating any aspect of lives in Afar. Research shows that Dagu is not only a means of exchanging information within and among each other, but it is institution and system for Afar people who are almost pastoralists. No Afar man can bypass from giving and receiving information about their concern in particular and the globe in general. It was also pointed out that Afar people are unflaggingly eager to exchange any information, but with credibility and accuracy. Dagu is, similarly two-way symmetrical model, boost balanced way of communication and persuasion. Therefore, I have chosen system theory as my theoretical framework for my research.
The view of organizations as open social systems that must interact with their environments in order to survive is known as the systems theory approach6. Organizations depend on their environments for several essential resources: customers who purchase the product or service, suppliers who provide materials, employees who provide labor or management, shareholders who invest, and governments that regulate. According to Cutlip, Center, and Broom, public relations’ essential role is to help organizations adjust and adapt to changes in an organization’s environment. Cutlip, Center, and Broom (2006).
The open-systems approach7 was first applied by Katz and Kahn, who adapted General Systems Theory to organizational behavior. Katz and Kahn (1966); Bertalanffy (1951), pp. 303–361. This approach identifies organizational behavior by mapping the repeated cycles of input, throughput, output, and feedback between an organization and its external environment. Systems receive input from the environment either as information or in the form of resources. The systems then process the input internally, which is called throughput, and release outputs into the environment in an attempt to restore equilibrium to the environment. The system then seeks feedback to determine if the output was effective in restoring equilibrium. As can be seen, the systems approach focuses on the means used to maintain organizational survival and emphasize long-term goals rather than the short-term goals of the goal-attainment approach.
Most effective organizations, according to systems theory, adapt to their environments. Pfeffer and Salancik described the environment as the events occurring in the world that have any effect on the activities and outcomes of an organization. Environments range from “static” on one extreme to “dynamic” on the other. Static environments are relatively stable or predictable and do not have great variation, whereas dynamic environments are in a constant state of flux. Because environments cannot be completely static or constantly changing, organizations have varying levels of dynamic or static environments.
Organizations that exist in dynamic environments must be open systems in order to maintain homeostasis. Because dynamic environments are constantly changing, they create a lot of uncertainty about what an organization must do in order to survive and grow. The key to dealing with uncertainty is information. An open organization monitors its environment and collects information about environmental deviations that is labeled as input10. Input can also be thought of as a form of feedback. The most important information is negative input, according to systems theorists, because this information alerts the organization to problems that need to be corrected. Negative input tells the organization that it is doing something wrong and that it must make adjustments to correct the problem; positive input tells the organization that it is doing something right and that it should continue or increase that activity.
Organizations then organize and process this information to formulate solutions or responses to these changes. As Cutlip, Center, and Broom noted, open systems use information to respond to environmental changes and adjust accordingly. Other organizations may change their processes in order to adhere to new environmental laws. Processing positive and negative input to adjust to environmental change is called throughput. In the throughput of information, the organization analyzes it and tailors it strategically to fit with the organization’s goals, values, and within the relationship context it holds with publics. After an organization adapts to environmental changes, its actions and messages represent its output.
The public relations professional engaged in an organization that takes a systems approach is continually focusing on feedback as a way of measuring organizational success. The public relations professional can use the academic concept of systems theory to implement protocols for regular feedback to the organization, thereby aligning it with the desires of publics in its environment. This theory can also be useful in understanding the role of research and feedback in creating a thoroughly analyzed and consistent strategy (the throughput stage of information in systems theory).The analysis of information and creation of strategy known as throughput helps to conceptualize and justify not only the research budget of the public relations department but also the need for making decisions that strategically align the public communications of an organization with the information needed by publics. The practical implementation of this approach keeps public relations from being used as a simple publicity function, and places the function squarely in the strategic planning process.
Participatory Communication Approach
Participatory Communication is an approach evolved from the earlier transmission model of communication, where information was assumed to pass from senders to receivers. It is an approach emanated from the widely growing democratic principles and criticism of the earlier top-down and expert-dictated communication approaches. As one development communication practitioner puts it, ‘development communication has largely remained a strategy of unidirectional marketing and monologue’ (Rajasunderam, n.d.).
During the last decade or so, there has been a gradual shift from this hierarchical, top-down view of communication to a deeper understanding of communication as a two-way process that is interactive and participatory. This change in perception about the nature of the communication process is working in favor of a more participatory decision-making at the local level and of communication as a part of the process. Some development communication practitioners have promoted the concept of community participation as an educational process in which communities, with the assistance of animators or facilitators, identify their problems and needs, and become agents of their own development (ibid.).
The relevance of indigenous communicationEvery human society has developed its indigenous and traditional modes and channels of communication which characterize its existence, organization and development. These communication modes and channels form the basis upon which the communities, especially the rural community, progress. Policy makers, planners and administrators, desirous to effect functional economic and social changes, must first identify such community communication modes and channels and utilize them to provide the people with maximum information about such changes.
As underscored by FAO (1998:8), traditional folk media are cultural resources that accumulate indigenous knowledge, experience and expression passed down from generation to generation. Woven into proverbs and poems, songs and dances, puppet plays and stories rhythms and beats, they are embedded with a strong sense of cultural identity, which can be a potent force for development. In many cases, these media are the traditional conducts of indigenous knowledge, experience and culture. When they are creatively used, these cultural resources can be a subtle and effective way of introducing development ideas and messages.
The perceptible advantages which folk or traditional media have over modern mass media in promoting development obviously constitute reasons why media have widespread use in development campaigns. Compared with modern mass media, the folk media are more familiar and closer to the people at the grassroots level and this fact would seem to make them more effective channels through which the ordinary folk can be presented with new and development ideas such as modern family planning. Being personal forms of entertainment as well as channels of communication, the folk media such as traditional drama, storytelling and folk singing are effective parts of the way of life of the people and thus provide fruitful means of disseminating ideas to them.
Again, being grassroots entertainment media, they cover primary and intimate social groups and any messages they carry reach such groups and any messages they carry reach such groups and therefore reach the well-established communication network of any community.
Mundy and Compton (2013, pp.1) posited that indigenous communication includes the transmission of entertainment, news, persuasion, announcement and social exchange of every type. Indigenous communication is an important aspect of culture and the means by which a culture is preserved, handed down and adapted having the following characteristics (Ibid).
Indigenous communication has value in its own right. It is an important aspect of cultureand it is the means by which a culture is preserved, handed down and adapted. But indigenous communication is being eroded by exogenous systems – the mass media, schools, agricultural extension, and bureaucracies – endangering the survival of much valuable information.
Exogenous channels have limited range. Television and newspapers are largely confined tourban areas in the Third World. Even the most widespread exogenous channels, extensionpersonnel and radio, fail to reach many rural people. Indigenous channels, by contrast, areubiquitous. They are needed to convey messages to people out of the reach of exogenouschannels.Indigenous channels have high credibility. Because they are familiar and are controlled locally, indigenous channels are highly credible. Local audiences are often skeptical of the externally controlled mass media.
Indigenous channels are important conduits of change. Research has shown the importance of informal, interpersonal contacts in persuading people to adopt, or reject, innovations. Such contacts are often made through indigenous channels.
Development programs can use indigenous communication to collect and to disseminateinformation. Outsiders can tap indigenous channels for information on the local situationand for feedback on project initiatives. Many projects rely on indigenous channels to diffuseinnovations and development messages. Some have made explicit use of indigenous channelssuch as folk media and village organizations. There remains much untapped potential inusing such approaches.
Indigenous channels offer opportunities for participation by local people in development efforts. They allow local people to communicate among themselves and with development professionals and decision makers. Local people can retain control over local media more easily than over technology-intensive media.
If indigenous communication is ignored, the result might be inappropriate developmentefforts. For instance, planners failed to recognize the role of a network of “water temples” incontrolling irrigation in Bali, Indonesia. This led them to introduce cropping methods andconstruct canals and dams that were not appropriate to local conditions (Mundy and Compton, 2013).
Overview of Dagu communicationLong before, when technology was not introduced, people used to communicate and passinformation through a messenger; however that information transfer mechanism varied fromsociety to another based on its norms and cultures. In the Afar community for instance, passingmessage through messenger is called Dagu (Winta, 2010).
Dagu is native communication tool of the Afar people in Djibouti, Eritrea and Ethiopia. In earlytimes, since there was no technology Dagu tool helped the Afar people to be in touch withhappenings around and at distant. Dagu is a traditional face-to-face interaction where peoplereveal a genuine information curiosity to hear/know about, new or unheard things particularly, soas to prevent the community from possible dangers (Gulalit, 2006).
According to Kelemwork (2011), Dagu is an important traditional instrument for communicationamong the Afar people and is used in place of modern communication technology. Theinformation transferring process among the Afar has its own rules and regulations to be abide by.Anyone who passes information through Dagu means has to be able to verify the information and be able to answer cross-checking questions if it is needed (Winta, 2010).
The Afar people have an established traditional communication network called Dagu. Dagu is the largest “wireless”, so to say, traditional news network in the Horn of Africa that connects the Afars living across three neighboring countries – Ethiopia, Eritrea and Djibouti.
Mainly based on word of mouth, the Afar society has been using Dagu’s network, which “is a highly developed traditional system of information management” (Chege et al., 2004, p. 29). In most parts of the world, news is communicated through mass media –radio, television, newspaper and the Internet. Usually through these channels, the news goes to its target audience. In the Afar society, however, the reverse is true. It is the Afars that go to the news and it is Dagu- word of mouth – that communicates the news. As Morell (2005, para. 3) writes:
It is through Dagu that they Afars learn of any newcomers to their desert realm, of the conditions of water holes and grazing lands, of missing camels and caravans. They learn of weddings and funerals, of new alliances and betrayals, of the latest battles fought, and the conditions of the trail ahead.
Dagu, in Afar people, have been practiced since immemorial (Jemal, 2016). Thus, this traditional means of communication traces back to the existent of Afar people. As studies show, Afars are pastoralists living mostly in rural area. They have been observed as mobilizing society surviving their live by searching grass roots (grazing) for their cattle. It is through Dagu, that Afars gather information about the areas that will travel to.
Moreover, Afars traditionally privileged Dagu on other traditional communication because it is a system encompassing every aspect of Afars. As explored by some researchers, Afar people, through Dagu, can know about social, political, religious and economic happenings within their territory and external environments irrespectively.
Cultural significance and communicative potentials of DaguWhile models and theories in the earlier paradigms of communication such as “stimulus-response model” and “modernization” theory neglected the meanings and values of traditional knowledge, the current paradigms have given them credit. Practically, however, “potential of traditional media for effecting social change has never been realized”(Johnny and Richards, 1980 as cited in ibid. p.242).
Emphasizing on the significance of traditional media Awa says, “Several scholars and researchers have highlighted the usefulness and centrality of traditional media in information transfer, message design, and planning and development in traditional social context (1995:238)”. According to his view, traditional media incorporate indigenous elements that have traditional legitimacy for participants in development programs and hence serve multiple functions like involving, entertaining, instructing and informing the society (ibid.).
Indigenous knowledge and skills have been stored in human memory and have been transmitted from generation to generation through traditional media particularly in the context of developing African societies. Knowledgeable elder people play major role in sustaining transmission of these social wealth. Due to this fact, the death of a knowledgeable old person has commonly been equated with “disappearance of a well-organized library” (ibid. p.239). Thus both the waytraditional wisdom is transmitted through folk media accompanied by various ceremonies and rituals pertinent to a given culture and the communicators in charge of that duty have been given a respected social position in traditional societies.
In the modern age of information communication technology, information is power and informedsocieties are assumed to be powerful. Long before, when technology was not introduced, peopleused to communicate and pass information through a messenger, though that information transfermechanism varied from society to another based on its norms and cultures. In the Afar ethnic forinstance, passing message through messenger is known as Dagu (Winta, 2010).When defined as a communication approach, Dagu is face-to-face interpersonal communicationby which people reveal genuine information curious to hear/know about, new or unheard thingsin particular, so as to prevent the community from possible dangers (Gulalit, 2006).On the article entitled ?Social organization and Cultural Institutions of the Afar of NorthernEthiopia, by Kelemwork (2011) has defined Dagu as: an important traditional instrument forcommunication among the Afar people and is used in the place of modern communicationtechnology.
Another article entitled ?From traditional Dagu to Mobile and Media Technologies:Communication and Livelihood Change Among the Afar Pastoralists of Ethiopia? byKelemwork and Gebreyesus (2013) identified that albeit the ICT facilities and infrastructuressuch as the Internet were not that much developed, mobile phones have been increasingly used inmost parts of the Afar region enabling pastoralists to exchange information about grazing landresources and management, market condition, policy trends and security related issues.Furthermore, Moges (2013) asserts that Dagu is given a high respect by the Afar peoplesince their livelihood is very much reliant on the information they get through it, besides theyaccess current breaking information through it. In the study of Gulalit (2006) about thepotential of Dagu communication in health education, it was investigated that Dagu can be usedfor health education for instance. When compared Dagu with modern news media (Ibid) Dagusystem show a similarity to the modern news media in many ways, for instance the process ofverification and credibility cross-checking issue.
The Dagu processDagu as a means of relaying important information from one person to another is process. When two or more individuals meet, they sit down and spend some time (usually half an hour or more based on the sensitivity of the issue they are talking about, discussing and sharing the major economic, political events that took place recently in their localities and frontiers, respectively. This is a usual practice adopted in the Afar society whether individuals knew each other previously or not (Kelemwork, 2011, as quoted in Mahamuda, 2016, p.21).
Communication scholars have identified the process of communication consisting sender, message, channel, receiver, interference/noise, feedback, situation though communication models are differ to theorists accordingly. Furthermore, communication theorists recommended the communication model that involves feedback because it fosters mutual understanding.
Communication is the process of passing information ; message from one person to another. It involves at least two persons (i.e., a sender ; a receiver). The sender develops ; transmits a message to the receiver. The purpose is to achieve common understanding between the sender ; the receiver. In this regard, Dagu communication is characterized as interactive (Jemal 2011). This type of communication is thoroughly processed while communicating to each other.
Dagu is the process of passing as well as receiving information or news about what two or more individuals have seen or heard. It is news medium that serves all members of the society virtuallyequally regardless of their social status. However, it is worth noting that women play fewer roles than men simply because they “are relatively lesser in rate of mobility compared to men.”(Gulilat, 2006, p. 75).
Empirical studiesStudies have conducted on indigenous communication from development aspect in different context in Africa in general. Local and international researchers have studied Dagu in particular. In this part, previous studies will be presented, analyzed, and criticized then after research gap will be shown here.
While looking for some studies related to the present topic, there is not a single study, but few researchers studied Dagu in different ways. To mention some of them, Gulilat (2006), Felseta (2006), Getachew (2005) and Mengistu (2009) are those who have raised similar issues as far as culture and communication is concerned. These related literatures are discussed here because to show the importance of indigenous communication in any development programs carried out by government organizations, particularly the GOs working in development activities in under developed and developing African countries in rural area. Though these studies have no direct relations with the present study, they will be used due to the need of referring to the potentials of indigenous communication for any development programs in rural community.
Gulilat (2006) in the study on trends and communicative potentials of Dagu for HIV/AIDS Communication in Afar region, concluded that Dagu can be nicely adapted to any HIV/AIDS communication approach, model or theory so as to plan an intervention which could involve the people as agents of their own change. He also indicated that the elder Afar men are valued as canny information exploiters in Dagu and hence are often prioritized in such circumstances. With this, he also noted that females and children under 15 do not use Dagu as much as others.
Jemal (2016) in the study on Dagu: Its nature, attributes and reporting praxes that the Afar people have a well-developed oral culture where a word-of-mouth plays the most important role in connecting, informing and educating especially about accounts of current events. He also noted that remarkable feature is that the main purpose of Dagu is swapping news, relaying it as fast as possible, which makes Dagu very conspicuous since it is purposely performed as ritual. It is the contention of this article that Dagu has many similarities with journalistic practices than it has with models of mass communication flows.
Hagos (2010) found that folk media channels are capable enough to disseminate any information in the society including HIV/AIDS messages. He further stated that messages conveyed using these channels can easily diffuse into every segments of the community at a faster speed. Besides, he added the Erob community thinks that messages through folk media make the community easily comprehend the messages, internalize and rehearse them as far as they have been using them throughout their lives. However, when it comes to the development agents, they either don’t know most of the folk media channels in the woreda or else they are unable to use them though they weigh up the potentials of the media.
All these studies attempted to compare the interpersonal communication or other forms of societal communication in judgment to the roles of mass media or access to the national media. Particularly Dagu is concerned some of them studied Dagu as general form of indigenous communication that could be adapted as HIV/AIDS intervention communication model, theory and it was also studied Dagu within it. But no one out of them carried out the study on areas like that of present study where the community’s indigenous communication is the sole and reliable means of information exchange among the Afar people. Hence, in this intends explore the potentials of this indigenous communication form (Dagu) and its significant influence to PR practitioner operating community function.
Chapter ThreeResearch methodology and DesignThis part presents the research design and approach that will be used in this study. It also includes the data collection methods and sampling size and sampling technique by which the research will obtain data from study participants. Data analysis and presentation and ethical consideration will be discussed in this chapter.
Therefore, the researcher will use exploratory research design and collect data employing both quantitative and qualitative (mixed) method. Study population will be selected using both purposive and simple random sampling techniques.
Research designDagu communication was studied by few researchers and these studies didn’t significantly cover the whole aspect of Dagu. To the knowledge of researcher, there is yet no study conducted on Dagu in PR aspect. Furthermore, from the researcher’s experience Dagu communication is not limited only in merely information exchange rather it is the system.
From this point, this study will be exploratory research to uncover new insights regarding the potentials and impact of Dagu communication in community relations since it has not been investigated before. Exploratory research is conducted to address an issue or problem where there are few or no earlier studies about a topic and previous theories or ideas do not apply (Lettyann, 2011; Answer Corporation, 2012). Thus, the researcher will employ exploratory research for better understanding of Dagu communication in organizational setting where the organizations have close contact with indigenous community.
This study will employ mixed research approach involving both qualitative and quantitative methods. Mixed design approach will help the researcher to triangulate methods in collecting data and analyzing it.
Study area and setupThis research will be conducted in regional sector offices in Samara City, the capital of Afar National Regional State. There are 13sector bureaus in the city. All the bureaus are organized to have PR activities. There are one hundred seven (107) PR practitioners distributed across all the sector bureaus. Population of the studySource population
Population is the entire cohort of subjects that a researcher is interested in (Opie, 2007). It is in this population, the researcher will choose the representative for the whole population. For the purpose of this study, the source populations will be all employees from all regional sector bureaus in Samara City and all ordinary residents in Samara city, ANRS.
The study population will be all heads, vice heads and PR staff in selected bureaus as well as selected indigenous Afar residents (ordinary residents of Samara City who are ethnically Afar).
Sample size determination and sampling design
For the qualitative study (in-depth interview), the participants will be key informants involving, sector Bureau’s head, vice head, PR director, and PR executive director. In addition, key Afar residents involving elders and educated adults from the Samara city, who have deep knowledge on Dagu and its phenomenon will be identified and included in the in-depth interview. To select participants for qualitative data, the researcher will employ purposive sampling technique in which data will be gathered till the saturation level reached (i.e., the point of no new information is identified).
Unyimadu (2005) says about purposive sampling that it selects individuals or objects on the basis of prior judgment about their relevance to the study. He further says that in purposive sampling – the researcher uses the unique characteristics they the respondents possess to decide who should be sampled.
For quantitative study, researcher will employ all the PR practitioners in the sector bureaus. Since, the number of PR practitioners in the sector bureaus are small in number (N = 107), the researcher plans to include all the practitioners without sampling. This eliminates sampling error and provides data on all the individuals in the population. Data collection instrumentsFor quantitative design, semi structured questionnaire containing both closed and open ended questions will be prepared to collect the data. The questionnaire will be designed in such a way that it contains personal background Information of the respondents and questions related to role of Dagu in community relation. The questionnaire will be prepared in the local language (Afar af).
For the qualitative part, interview guide will be prepared on pertinent issues to be addressed by the key informants. The interview guide will be prepared such way that it will contain aspects of Dagu, its phenomenon, and potentials of Dagu in light of the socio-cultural aspects of the Afar people, perceived impact of Dagu as well as its potential to address organizational objectives of the sector bureaus.
Data collection procedureThe researcher will carried out this study by collecting data using three methods; questionnaire, interview, and document review. In doing so, the researcher will collect data primarily through semi-structured questionnaire containing both close and open-ended questions because survey will be conducted in all nineteen to identify which organization has close and frequent contact with rural community. After having identified typical sector bureaus which have more tendency of continuous and close contact with rural Afar people, in-depth interview will be preceding one to collect individual insight regarding how Dagu functions within the community and between the community and selected sector bureaus, and the role that Dagu plays as communication form in community relations activities. Thirdly, document review will be used to ascertain the practice of PR practitioners in the office and what they value regarding communication system.
For the quantitative research, the questionnaire will be distributed to be filled by the respondents (self-administered questionnaire) and the filled questionnaire will be collected the following day.
For the qualitative part, face to face in-depth interview will be conducted. The researchers will choose face-to-face in-depth interview because the information required for the study necessitates explanation rather than quantifiable data. Moreover, the researcher’s presence in the field will make the respondents more attentive to respond to the questions provided more candidly and conversationally. Face-to-face interview also enables respondents to give their broad opinions to questions. The face to face interview will be conducted using the local language (Afar af). Moreover, during the data collection the researcher will use tape recording and note taking, and after the discussion, it will be transcribed and finally will be translated into English.
The researcher will first survey a large number of participants and then follow up with a few participants to obtain their specific concerns and voices about the topic. In these situations, collecting both closed-ended quantitative data and open-ended qualitative data proves advantageous (Creswell).
Before using the questionnaire to collect data, it should be pilot tested. The researcher will conduct pilot study to determine whether the study is feasible, to identify possible problems in the design, examine the reliability, validity, and suitability of the instrument, and to examine the clarity of the instrument given (Burns et al, 2005). Also, Saunders et al (2000) said that the pilot test is to refine the questionnaire, to identify if the respondents have any problem in answering the questions and to assess the validity and reliability of that data that will be collected to ensure that the data collected will be able to answer the research questions.
For this study, before commencement of the actual data collection, the questionnaire will be pretested on 5% (n = 5) PR practitioners. These participants will be from other organizations taken from police commission, environmental security and land management agency, mineral and energy office. The data collectors will be acquainted with the data collection process, and inconsistencies and irregularities of the questionnaire will be evaluated and modified accordingly.
Ethical considerationsIn this study, different ethical issues will be considered. Accordingly, the data gathering tools, the questionnaire and the interview guide will be piloted after they have commented by the advisors of the researcher. Moreover, the respondents will be participated in the study based on their written informed consent during data collection. Furthermore, the identity of respondents will be concealed based on the principle of confidentiality during data analysis. The collected data will be analyzed honestly without data changing and the findings of the study will be reported honestly as well.
Generally, the ethical considerations which will be taken in to account (considered) to protect participants’ rights in detail include:
Ethical clearance from ethics committee
Approval from concerned bodies
Participants will be requested for voluntary participation
Informed in verbal consent
Confidentiality will be protected
Anonymity of participant will be kept
Data analysis and interpretationThe date generated from quantitative study, will be organized, and analyzed using SPSS v.21.0 and the results will be presented descriptively (mean, median, etc.).
Audio outputs of the interview will be transcribed and then translated from Afar af into English language and responses in the verbatim will be coded in a matrix that contains various thematic categories. Data that will be obtained through questionnaire will be analyzed by using descriptive statistics.
Budget and Time breakdownBudget breakdownNo Budget Item Amount Unit price Total in Birr
Researcher’s Per dime 60 days 180 birr 10,800 birr
Stationary and printing – – 2,000 birr
Data collector 4 500 2,000 birr
Internet service 20 days 10 birr 200 birr
Total 15,000 birr
Work Plan No. Activities Responsible body Time frame
Jan, 02/18 Feb Mar Apr May
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