In the last few decades, scholars in global public relations have called for more research and education in multicultural communication. This charge has become more urgent today given the increasing number of multinational organizations operating in an ever internationalizing economy that are endlessly “globalizing”, “localizing” or “globalization” to remain competitive.
The need to understand multiculturalism in our field is further accentuated by large-scale human migrations across the globe that has resulted in multicultural communities even within many previously ethnically homogenous countries. Essentially, being culturally competent to communicate effectively with culturally diverse publics both intra- and inter-countries has never been more critical.
According to Vertic, Grunig, and Grunig, culture is one of the five environmental factors that impact the formation of PR planning in a country. Sriram extended the observation by arguing the need for the American education system to deliver multicultural PR education with an emphasis on multiculturalism if it hopes to adequately equip and train aspiring PR professionals in today’s globalized business environments. Macnamara supported that observation and argued that “nowhere is research more important than in multicultural and cross-cultural communication”.
While honoring the vital works that have been done to highlight the importance of multiculturalism, one also needs to question the operationalization of this cultural construct. This is because while many scholars, particularly in the field of social psychology, have demonstrated and provided empirical evidence to support the operationalization of two other cultural constructs, i.e., individualism and collectivism, few have attempted to do the same for multiculturalism. As such, unless researchers understand how multiculturalism is applied in PR practice, multiculturalism will remain an academic construct