CHAPTER ONEINTRODUCTION1.1 Background of the Study Public relations is an important subsystem of an organization. The effective practice of public relations is integrally bound to the wellbeing of an organization. This provides the avenue for the organization to effectively monitor, interact and react with key groups within the organizational environment. The activities of every organization significantly contribute to the well-being of its environment. Routine and administrative activities of organizations have direct or indirect impact to the stakeholders ranging from employees, customers, host communities, and the general public.
The role of public relations in any organization is to identify the key publics, both internal and external, with whom the organization must operate effectively, and alongside this, to strategically develop and maintain a relationship with these publics for the benefit of both the organization and the identified publics. Public relations represents the interests of organizations and the communities to develop, implement, and communicate programs. Perhaps the most mentioned role of public relation is the communication function.
However, not all programs or activities are communicated; instead public relations often organically carry out a corporate social responsibility function to serve the community in which it operates. This function is significantly important to every organization as it contributes to the goodwill and corporate image of organizations. Thus, the recognition and acceptance of corporate social responsibility as a vital communication tool in the hands of all organizations in all modern societies cannot be overemphasized. The need for corporate social responsibility in the management of environment remains a pertinent issue more than ever before. In fact, it remains an essential instrument of civil social responsibility for the development and transformation of our community and the provision of necessary amenities, jobs and infrastructural development.Asemah, Okpanachi and Olumuji (2013) note that the goodwill and corporate image of organizations require the instrumentality of corporate social responsibility. This will not only promote productivity and efficient service delivery but also ensure peaceful co-existence within and outside the immediate environment of an organization. This also applies to tertiary institutions, considering the essential roles they play to the development of education, on one hand and the socio-economic development of the society on the other hand.To this end, Igwe (2011) affirms that corporate social responsibility and public relations are nowadays reference points in the communicational and image activity of organization within the context of communities where they operate. Both concepts refer, each in its own representative way, to the way in which organizations choose to communicate with the categories of public involved in their activity. While public relations propose to build and maintain a long term positive image, reputation and popularity of a company, so that all categories of public have a most transparent and clear vision of the company and its activity, corporate social responsibility intends to meet various social problems facing the communities where the company operates in order to help improve their quality of life. Shading more light on the discourse, Chiakaan and Chile (2015, p.171) state thus:Corporate social responsibility has to do with the company’s involvement in community affairs. The company has a responsibility to the community in which it operates. Besides existing for the welfare of its shareholders and staff, a company has to respond or rather contribute to the development of the community in which it operates. Corporate social responsibility is all about the idea that organizations owe it as a duty, to give back parts of their profits to the society which constitutes the environment in which they are situated to carry out their operations in form of support for the well-being of such community. Organizations such as companies or higher institutions of learning, in this regard, ought to be socially responsible to their communities, so that they can win their goodwill. The concern of this study is, therefore, to determine whether tertiary institutions in Taraba State, especially College of Agriculture, Jalingo is corporately responsible, not only to its staff and students, but to its community. 1.2 Statement of Research Problem Being socially responsible by organizations can lead to mutual satisfaction by both organizations and their immediate environment. A socially responsible organization, according to Chiakaan and Chile (2015) is one that is not only friendly to its publics and community but which is not selfish in relating with them. A socially responsible organization, gets itself involved in making the community in which it exist a better place; always responding to the needs of that community. The reason is to ensure that there is peaceful coexistence between that organization and its community. Corporate social responsibility is therefore, one of the functions of public relations in an organization whether it is public of private, commercial or non-commercial. Often times, tertiary institutions especially in the Nigerian context, are seen as organizations that are not established for business purpose, as such, tend not to embrace corporate social responsibility. This often times makes them to be in conflict with their environments. It gives them bad name as news about them in the media is often negative. This is a bad development as it does not speak well for our higher educational sector which is a sector that produces manpower for the survival and development of Nigeria. This study, therefore, examines the application of public relations by College of Agriculture, Jalingo as demanded by the corporate social responsibility concept. 1.3 Objectives of the StudyThe broad objective of this study will be to ascertain the applicability of corporate social responsibility as a public relation tool by tertiary institutions in Taraba State. Specifically, the objectives of the study shall include: i. to find out whether College of Agriculture, Jalingo recognizes and practices public relations; ii. to determine whether College of Agriculture, Jalingo is corporately responsible to its public and environment; iii. to identify the corporate social responsibility approaches by College of Agriculture, Jalingo; iv. to determine the effect of the corporate social responsibility approaches by College of Agriculture, Jalingo on the institution; v. to identify the challenges facing College of Agriculture, Jalingo in discharging its corporate social responsibility duty. 1.4 Research QuestionThe following research questions will be answer. i. Does College of Agriculture, Jalingo recognize and practice public relations?ii. Is College of Agriculture, Jalingo corporately responsible to its publics and environment?iii. What are the corporate social responsibility approaches by College of Agriculture, Jalingo?iv. What are the effects of corporate social responsibility approaches by College of Agriculture, Jalingo?v. What are the challenges facing College of Agriculture, Jalingo in discharging its Corporate social responsibility duty? 1.5 Significance of the StudyThis research work shall be relevant to public relation practitioners in tertiary institutions to understanding their corporate social responsibility role in creating good rapport between the institutions and the host community. It is expected that the study shall propel the practitioners to strive towards building an enviable image for their institutions as mutual rapporteur between the institution and their publics will create a corporate image and reputation of that institution. More so, other corporate organizations such as tertiary institutions shall find this research work useful as the methodological approach of this research will be to a very large extent guide them in carrying out community development projects or programmes.Furthermore, this research will be of utmost significance to higher institutions of learning in Nigeria as the findings and recommendations shall serve as blue-print in consolidating the efforts of public relations practitioners and professionals in executing corporate social responsibility programmes. Finally, potential researchers shall find this work as relevant literature material for consultations.1.6 Scope of the StudyAlthough the awareness and utilization of corporate social responsibility is an issue in tertiary institution in Nigeria; the study will focus on the application of public relations by College of Agriculture, Jalingo as determined by the concept of corporate social responsibility. 1.7 Area of the Study The study area of the study shows a geographical location, different from the scope of the study which shows the boundary of limit of the study. Therefore, the area of study is College of Agriculture, Jalingo. The choice of this area is as a result of its proximity to the researchers.1.8 Limitations of the Study In any study carried out, there are some factors that the research must battle with in the course of the study. Therefore, it is important at this stage to draw attention to some of the factors that will likely affect the study. These may include but not limited to: i. The difficulty in getting necessary information from unwilling respondents;ii. Inadequate literature on the subject under investigation;iii. Limited access to acquire data that is necessary for the study; and lastlyiv. Being bias on the part of the respondents is another constrain to the study.1.8 Definition of TermsThe study here identifies some major terms for clarity, which make the study understandable. The meaning of key words that constitute the research problems and some key concepts that have been used frequently in the course of this research study can be defined below as sub-headings to ensure proper and easy comprehension. These will be: i. Public Relations: As used in this study, public relations have to do with every activity that is aimed at improving the mutual understanding between an organization and its public. ii. Corporate Social Responsibility: In this study, corporate social responsibility can be seen as the economic, legal, ethical, and discretionary expectancies that society has of organizations at a given point in time. It has to do with an organization going out of his way to initiate actions that will impact positively on its host community, its environment and the people generally.iii. Organization: In this regards, will refer to a group of people who form a business together in order to achieve a particular purpose. iv. Tertiary Institution: In this study, tertiary institutions are post-secondary institutions of higher learning such as universities, polytechnics, colleges, monotechnics and so on.