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This book is the initial volume coming out of the "excellence project"--a comprehensive research effort commissioned by the IABC (International Association of Business Communicators) Research Foundation. The purpose of this project was to answer two fundamental questions about public relations: What are the characteristics of an excellent communication department? How does excellent public relations make an organization more effective, and how much is that contribution worth economically? The research team began its work with a thorough review of the literature in public relations and related disciplines relevant to these questions. What started as a literature review, however, has ended in a general theory of public relations, one that integrates most of the wide range of ideas about, and practices of, communication management in organizations.