Wicked intelligence as counter intelligence: unlearning, democracy and public relations
AbstractThe paper introduces the concept of wicked intelligence to public relations. This idea associates practice in the field with progressive strategic thinking, social responsibility and democracy. Wicked intelligence is itself positioned in the paper as an example of counterintelligence linked to a process of radical unlearning in the PR discipline. This call for cognitive decommissioning is based on the notion that learning is a recurring theme in conceptualisations of intelligence and positioned as a desirable aspect of individual and collective development. Nevertheless, discourse around learning often underpins a managerial paradigm which is preoccupied with the promotion of organisational competitiveness rather than the resolution of societal problems (Shih-wei Hsu, 2013). The idea of wicked intelligence confronts this issue and focuses particularly on the key competencies required to tackle wicked problems. These are intractable issues that cannot be resolved through traditional problem solving techniques because they defy neat definition, linear analysis and are unable to be solved in sequential steps (Conklin, 2006). These types of challenges are embedded at every level of social life and include climate change, childhood obesity, as well as many aspects of organisational leadership. It is argued this landscape is fertile ground for PR and can help the field to address its own image problem through a focus on participatory problem solving. Indeed, wicked intelligence generates collaborative and transparent strategies in which relevant stakeholders are engaged to find the best proposal for all stakeholders. This leads to the formulation of a common, agreed approach in which those people who are affected also become participants (Roberts, 2000). In this context stakeholders are not merely consulted but actively involved in the planning process. This further complements an emerging theoretical perspective in PR that conceptualises stakeholder relationships as a social commons characterised by consensus, equity, moral legitimacy and transparency (Willis, 2012).
TypeConference or Workshop Item
Willis, Paul (2014) Wicked intelligence as counter intelligence: unlearning, democracy and public relations. In: BCN Barcelona PR Meeting #4, 26 - 27 June 2014, University of Catalonia, Barcelona. (Unpublished)