Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Oscar Gandy

Second Advisor

Robert Hornik


This study explores how organizational contexts guide and constrain development practitioners' interpretations of development communication. The research focuses on questions surrounding the production of development communication, including: how practitioners understand and interpret development communication; and, how organizational contexts contribute,,to and constrain the production of development communication. An interpretive approach to organizational communication is used to build upon political-economic and systems approaches to the study of media industries and organizational behavior. Thirty-six members of international development organizations, including the United States Office of Population, Population Communication Services, United Nations Fund for Population Activities, International Planned Parenthood Federation Western Hemisphere Region, and Oxfam America, were interviewed in-depth about their perceptions of development communication (including their activity, their audience, and the role of communication in addressing that audience), and their organizational contexts (including inter-organizational dynamics with their donors, recipients and reference groups, as well as intra-organizational conditions, decision making procedures). such as history, structure and Respondents perceived development communication as a tool to inform, educate or persuade (role of communication) groups of individuals or society (audience) who suffer as a result of individual deficiencies or macro-structural inadequacies (problem organizational activity is addressing). Patterns of interpretations were connected with dynamics within the studied organizational contexts, which embodied particular systemic relations with other organizations in environments. The process by which meanings underlying development communication are produced shapes and is shaped by practitioners' interpretations of development communication. These interpretations, in turn, are bounded by the dynamics created and perpetuated by individuals as they interact within organizational contexts.