The Failure of the Task Force on Food Assistance: A Case Study of the Role of Legitimacy in Issue Management Academic Article uri icon


  • Public relations professionals generally consider issue management to be one of the primary ways in which public relations helps organizations to participate in the process of determining public policy. I view issue management as a competitive process in which an organization attempts to gain support for its position on issues. The theoretical concept of legitimacy as a resource vital for issue managers attempting to gain support is developed. In short, I theorize that members of publics will not support the position of an organization unless they believe that the issue is a legitimate one and that the issue manager and the organization's policy proposal also are legitimate. The research examines the issue of hunger to test this theory and the extent to which President Ronald Reagan's Task Force on Food Assistance succeeded in establishing legitimacy. Results show that the task force commissioners did not establish legitimacy on the hunger issue; therefore, their major policy proposals failed. 1992, Taylor & Francis Group, LLC. All rights reserved.

published proceedings

  • Journal of Public Relations Research

author list (cited authors)

  • Coombs, W. T.

citation count

  • 66

complete list of authors

  • Coombs, W Timothy

publication date

  • January 1992