PR, clientelism and economics: a comparison of southern Europe and Latin America

Document Type


Department or Administrative Unit


Publication Date




The purpose of this paper is to explore the relationship between clientelist relationships and economics in public relations practice in European Mediterranean countries and Latin America. It considers the cases of Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Brazil, Chile, and Mexico.


This paper uses a critical-conceptual method through a re-conceptualization of themes from secondary qualitative analyses of existing qualitative data sets and reviews of published qualitative papers.


The public relations practice in these two regions is similar. The characteristics of the public relations landscape in these countries must be understood in relation to a broader history of clientelism and economics emphasizing government relationships at the expense of other publics, as well as the lack of scale economies. Persuasive models are prevalent, although a number of forces – including integration in supranational organizations, democratization, and globalization – have strengthened the use of symmetrical models.

Research limitations/implications

This is not an empirical survey, there is a need of quantitative studies among practitioners and government officials that can measure empirically the nature of their relationships in a number of countries. This essay opens a door for future studies and cross-cultural comparisons about the role that clientelism plays in the PR practice of cultures and countries.

Practical implications

The paper offers useful background information, such as the primacy that media relations still have in the public relations practice, for foreign public relations executives, agency heads, and managers of public relations who are directly involved with or managing international public relations campaigns in these countries.

Social implications

Clientelism is a cultural concept that translates to the work of organizations and consequently public relations as a form of organizational behavior.


This paper brings to the table the importance of the concept of clientelism in the PR practice as well as the existence of a similar PR culture between countries that are on different continents.


This article was originally published in Journal of Communication Management. The full-text article from the publisher can be found here.

Due to copyright restrictions, this article is not available for free download from ScholarWorks @ CWU.


Journal of Communication Management


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