Organizational communication

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Organizational communication, broadly speaking, is: people working together to achieve individual or collective goals.[1]

Communication can be defined as "the transfer of meanings between persons and groups." The purpose of communication may range from completing a task or mission to creating and maintaining satisfying relationships. "Transfer of meanings" implies more than the simple process of "packaging" an idea as conceived by a sender and transporting it to the mind of a receiver, where it is "unpackaged." It implies the creation of meaning in the mind of a sender followed by a re-creation of the same meaning in the mind of a receiver. If something occurs along the way to change the sender's original meaning, the communication has failed in its intent. The survival of an organization depends on individuals and groups who are able to maintain among themselves effective and continuing relationships. Practicing ethical leadership will benefit relationships between organizational members. One component of practicing effective communication is fairness. In order to maintain fairness an organization must avoid discrimination based on gender, race, religion etc... One theory related to discrimination and prevention of workers advancing in their organization is called the Glass ceiling. Communications training will assist in developing and maintaining relations in an organization.

Communication may be considered a functional part of an organizational system, and it may be considered in an interpersonal context. The structure of an organization is determined in part by the network of channels or paths along which information must flow between members or sub-units.


[edit] History

The field traces its lineage through business information, business communication, and early mass communication studies published in the 1930s through the 1950s. Until then, organizational communication as a discipline consisted of a few professors within speech departments who had a particular interest in speaking and writing in business settings. The current field is well established with its own theories and empirical concerns distinct from other communication subfields and other approaches to organizations.

Several seminal publications stand out as works broadening the scope and recognizing the importance of communication in the organizing process, and in using the term "organizational communication". Nobel Laureate Herbert Simon wrote in 1947 about "organization communications systems", saying communication is "absolutely essential to organizations".[2]

In 1951 Bavelas and Barrett wrote An Experimental Approach to Organizational Communication in which they stated that communication "is the essence of organized activity".

In 1953 the economist Kenneth Boulding wrote The Organizational Revolution: A Study in the Ethics of Economic Organization. While this work directly addressed the economic issues facing organizations, in it he questions the ethical and moral issues underlying their power, and maintains that an "organization consists of a system of communication."

In 1954, a young Chris Argyris published Personality and Organization. This careful and research-based book attacked many things, but singled out "organizational communication" for special attention. Argyris made the case that what passed for organizational communication at the time was based on unstated and indefensible propositions such as "management knows best" and "workers are inherently stupid and lazy." He accused the emerging field of relying on untested gimmicks designed to trick employees into doing management's will.

[edit] Assumptions underlying early organizational communication

Some of the main assumptions underlying much of the early organizational communication research were:

  • Humans act rationally. Sane people behave in rational ways, they generally have access to all of the information needed to make rational decisions they could articulate, and therefore will make rational decisions, unless there is some breakdown in the communication process.
  • Formal logic and empirically verifiable data ought to be the foundation upon which any theory should rest. All we really need to understand communication in organizations is (a) observable and replicable behaviors that can be transformed into variables by some form of measurement, and (b) formally replicable syllogisms that can extend theory from observed data to other groups and settings
  • Communication is primarily a mechanical process, in which a message is constructed and encoded by a sender, transmitted through some channel, then received and decoded by a receiver. Distortion, represented as any differences between the original and the received messages, can and ought to be identified and reduced or eliminated.
  • Organizations are mechanical things, in which the parts (including employees functioning in defined roles) are interchangeable. What works in one organization will work in another similar organization. Individual differences can be minimized or even eliminated with careful management techniques.
  • Organizations function as a container within which communication takes place. Any differences in form or function of communication between that occurring in an organization and in another setting can be identified and studied as factors affecting the communicative activity.

Herbert Simon introduced the concept of bounded rationality which challenged assumptions about the perfect rationality of communication participants. He maintained that people making decisions in organizations seldom had complete information, and that even if more information was available, they tended to pick the first acceptable option, rather than exploring further to pick the optimal solution.

Through the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s the field expanded greatly in parallel with several other academic disciplines, looking at communication as more than an intentional act designed to transfer an idea. Research expanded beyond the issue of "how to make people understand what I am saying" to tackle questions such as "how does the act of communicating change, or even define, who I am?", "why do organizations that seem to be saying similar things achieve very different results?" and "to what extent are my relationships with others affected by our various organizational contexts?"

In the early 1990's Peter Senge developed a new theories on Organizational Communication. This theories were learning organization and systems thinking. These have been well received and are now a mainstay in current beliefs toward organizational communications.

[edit] Communications networks

Networks are another aspect of direction and flow of communication. Bavelas has shown that communication patterns, or networks, influence groups in several important ways. Communication networks may affect the group's completion of the assigned task on time, the position of the de facto leader in the group, or they may affect the group members' satisfaction from occupying certain positions in the network. Although these findings are based on laboratory experiments, they have important implications for the dynamics of communication in formal organizations.

There are several patterns of communication:

  • "Chain",
  • "Wheel",
  • "Star",
  • "All-Channel" network,
  • "Circle".[3]

The Chain can readily be seen to represent the hierarchical pattern that characterizes strictly formal information flow, "from the top down," in military and some types of business organizations. The Wheel can be compared with a typical autocratic organization, meaning one-man rule and limited employee participation. The Star is similar to the basic formal structure of many organizations. The All-Channel network, which is an elaboration of Bavelas's Circle used by Guetzkow, is analogous to the free-flow of communication in a group that encourages all of its members to become involved in group decision processes. The All-Channel network may also be compared to some of the informal communication networks.

If it's assumed that messages may move in both directions between stations in the networks, it is easy to see that some individuals occupy key positions with regard to the number of messages they handle and the degree to which they exercise control over the flow of information. For example, the person represented by the central dot in the "Star" handles all messages in the group. In contrast, individuals who occupy stations at the edges of the pattern handle fewer messages and have little or no control over the flow of information.These "peripheral" individuals can communicate with only one or two other persons and must depend entirely on others to relay their messages if they wish to extend their range.

In reporting the results of experiments involving the Circle, Wheel, and Star configurations, Bavelas came to the following tentative conclusions. In patterns with positions located centrally, such as the Wheel and the Star, an organization quickly develops around the people occupying these central positions. In such patterns, the organization is more stable and errors in performance are lower than in patterns having a lower degree of centrality, such as the Circle. However, he also found that the morale of members in high centrality patterns is relatively low. Bavelas speculated that this lower morale could, in the long run, lower the accuracy and speed of such networks.

In problem solving requiring the pooling of data and judgments, or "insight," Bavelas suggested that the ability to evaluate partial results, to look at alternatives, and to restructure problems fell off rapidly when one person was able to assume a more central (that is, more controlling) position in the information flow. For example, insight into a problem requiring change would be less in the Wheel and the Star than in the Circle or the Chain because of the "bottlenecking" effect of data control by central members. gay

It may be concluded from these laboratory results that the structure of communications within an organization will have a significant influence on the accuracy of decisions, the speed with which they can be reached, and the satisfaction of the people involved. Consequently, in networks in which the responsibility for initiating and passing along messages is shared more evenly among the members, the better the group's morale in the long run.

[edit] Direction of communication

If it's considered formal communications as they occur in traditional military organizations, messages have a "one-way" directional characteristic. In the military organization, the formal communication proceeds from superior to subordinate, and its content is presumably clear because it originates at a higher level of expertise and experience. Military communications also carry the additional assumption that the superior is responsible for making his communication clear and understandable to his subordinates. This type of organization assumes that there is little need for two-way exchanges between organizational levels except as they are initiated by a higher level. Because messages from superiors are considered to be more important than those from subordinates, the implicit rule is that communication channels, except for prescribed information flows, should not be cluttered by messages from subordinates but should remain open and free for messages moving down the chain of command. "Juniors should be seen and not heard," is still an unwritten, if not explicit, law of military protocol.

Vestiges of one-way flows of communication still exist in many formal organizations outside the military, and for many of the same reasons as described above.Although management recognizes that prescribed information must flow both downward and upward, managers may not always be convinced that two-wayness should be encouraged. For example, to what extent is a subordinate free to communicate to his superior that he understands or does not understand a message? Is it possible for him to question the superior, ask for clarification, suggest modifications to instructions he has received, or transmit unsolicited messages to his superior, which are not prescribed by the rules? To what extent does the one-way rule of direction affect the efficiency of communication in the organization, in addition to the morale and motivation of subordinates?

These are not merely procedural matters but include questions about the organizational climate, pr psychological atmosphere in which communication takes place. Harold Leavitt has suggested a simple experiment that helps answer some of these questions.[4] А group is assigned the task of re-creating on paper a set of rectangular figures, first as they are described by the leader under one-way conditions, and second as they are described by the leader under two-way conditions.(A different configuration of rectangles is used in the second trial.) In the one-way trial, the leader's back is turned to the group. He describes the rectangles as he sees them. No one in the group is allowed to ask questions and no one may indicate by any audible or visible sign his understanding or his frustration as he attempts to follow the leader's directions. In the two-way trial, the leader faces the group. In this case, the group may ask for clarifications on his description of the rectangles and he can not only see but also can feel and respond to the emotional reactions of group members as they try to re-create his instructions on paper.

On the basis of a number of experimental trials similar to the one described above, Leavitt formed these conclusions:

  1. One-way communication is faster than two-way communication.
  2. Two-way communication is more accurate than one-way communication.
  3. Receivers are more sure of themselves and make more correct judgments of how right or wrong they are in the two-way system.
  4. The sender feels psychologically under attack in the two-way system, because his receivers pick up his mistakes and oversights and point them out to him.
  5. The two-way method is relatively noisier and looks more disorderly. The one-way method, on the other hand, appears neat and efficient to an outside observer.[4]

Thus, if speed is necessary, if a businesslike appearance is important, if a manager does not want his mistakes recognized, and if he wants to protect his power, then one-way communication seems preferable. In contrast, if the manager wants to get his message across, or if he is concerned about his receivers' feeling that they are participating and are making a contribution, the two-way system is better.

[edit] Interpersonal communication

Another facet of communication in the organization is the process of face-to-face, interpersonal communication, between individuals. Such communication may take several forms. Messages may be verbal (that is, expressed in words), or they may not involve words at all but consist of gestures, facial expressions, and certain postures ("body language"). Nonverbal messages may even stem from silence.[5]

Ideally, the meanings sent are the meanings received. This is most often the case when the messages concern something that can be verified objectively. For example, "This piece of pipe fits the threads on the coupling." In this case, the receiver of the message can check the sender's words by actual trial, if necessary. However, when the sender's words describe a feeling or an opinion about something that cannot be checked objectively, meanings can be very unclear. "This work is too hard" or "Watergate was politically justified" are examples of opinions or feelings that cannot be verified. Thus they are subject to interpretation and hence to distorted meanings. The receiver's background of experience and learning may differ enough from that of the sender to cause significantly different perceptions and evaluations of the topic under discussion. As we shall see later, such differences form a basic barrier to communication.[5]

Nonverbal content always accompanies the verbal content of messages. This is reasonably clear in the case of face-to-face communication. As Virginia Satir has pointed out, people cannot help but communicate symbolically (for example, through their clothing or possessions) or through some form of body language. In messages that are conveyed by the telephone, a messenger, or a letter, the situation or context in which the message is sent becomes part of its non-verbal content. For example, if the company has been losing money, and in a letter to the production division, the front office orders a reorganization of the shipping and receiving departments, this could be construed to mean that some people were going to lose their jobs — unless it were made explicitly clear that this would not occur.[6]

A number of variables influence the effectiveness of communication. Some are found in the environment in which communication takes place, some in the personalities of the sender and the receiver, and some in the relationship that exists between sender and receiver. These different variables suggest some of the difficulties of communicating with understanding between two people. The sender wants to formulate an idea and communicate it to the receiver. This desire to communicate may arise from his thoughts or feelings or it may have been triggered by something in the environment. The communication may also be influenced or distorted by the relationship between the sender and the receiver, such as status differences, a staff-line relationship, or a learner-teacher relationship.[6]

Whatever its origin, information travels through a series of filters, both in the sender and in the receiver, before the idea can be transmitted and re-created in the receiver's mind. Physical capacities to see, hear, smell, taste, and touch vary between people, so that the image of reality may be distorted even before the mind goes to work. In addition to physical or sense filters, cognitive filters, or the way in which an individual's mind interprets the world around him, will influence his assumptions and feelings. These filters will determine what the sender of a message says, how he says it, and with what purpose. Filters are present also in the receiver, creating a double complexity that once led Robert Louis Stevenson to say that human communication is "doubly relative". It takes one person to say something and another to decide what he said.[7]

Physical and cognitive, including semantic filters (which decide the meaning of words) combine to form a part of our memory system that helps us respond to reality. In this sense, March and Simon compare a person to a data processing system. Behavior results from an interaction between a person's internal state and environmental stimuli. What we have learned through past experience becomes an inventory, or data bank, consisting of values or goals, sets of expectations and preconceptions about the consequences of acting one way or another, and a variety of possible ways of responding to the situation. This memory system determines what things we will notice and respond to in the environment. At the same time, stimuli in the environment help to determine what parts of the memory system will be activated. Hence, the memory and the environment form an interactive system that causes our behavior. As this interactive system responds to new experiences, new learnings occur which feed back into memory and gradually change its content. This process is how people adapt to a changing world.[7]

[edit] Differences in background

Communication between persons brings individual personalities and individual views of the environment into contact. People can agree on many things if they are products of the same experiences. But the fact that they have had different experiences may lead to disagreement. Extremely different backgrounds can cause serious communication problems. In other words, if you and I are trying to communicate with each other but do not see the same world, we are simply not talking about the same things. There are several possible consequences:[8]
  1. Can assume that I know what I am, talking about and you don't. This can cause inattention and create an emotional impression in such basic reactions as: "You are wrong, I am right," and even "You are evil, I am good." The struggle over differences may thus intensify.
  2. I can assume that since I am right, my objective must be to get you to agree with my point of view. At first, this may lead me into trying to be logical. I assume that you will be convinced once the facts are set straight. If I fail in this, I may resort to strategies of winning at any cost. I will dominate the discussion, talk instead of listening, and generally demean your ideas. All of these things would tend to heighten emotions and increase frustration, leading to an impasse in which we both would lose.
  3. I will interpret what you say according to my understanding of the situation. In many cases, this would be about as appropriate as trying to find a city in Russia using a map of France. Carl Rogers has described this "tendency to judge, to evaluate, to approve (or disapprove) the statement of the other person" from the listener's point of view as the major barrier to interpersonal communication. Rogers' remedy to this problem is what he calls "listening with understanding" — that is, trying to understand through a deliberate effort to see the other person's point of view, to see the world as he sees and experiences it. In other words, we must abandon the "I-know-what-I'm-talking-about-you-don't" attitude and, instead, open our minds and our ears to the other person's viewpoint. This means that we must admit to ourselves that there may be ideas that, though they are different from ours, are just as valid and just as worthy as our own. We may, in fact, learn something if we listen. This attitude is clearly difficult to achieve, since few people like to admit they may be wrong. But opening our minds to others' opinions is the only way we can gain the advantage of perceiving another side of the problem.

Really listening (and not just "hearing") has another important advantage. If I listen attentively to another person, I am expressing to him a form of respect, and in a very substantial way contributing to his feeling of self-worth. This strengthens his ego and at the same time evokes in him a feeling of respect for me. These mutually supportive feelings help to chase out antagonisms, fears, and defensive tactics. A supportive attitude can lead the way to cooperative problem solving, in which both of us emerge winners.[8]

[edit] Levels of communication

Differences in perception are not the only sources of misunderstanding and difficulty in interpersonal communication. Communication is also complicated by the fact that it takes place at different levels simultaneously. As we send verbal messages by word and voice, we also send nonverbal messages by our gestures, expressions, posture, status, and even by the way we dress and comb our hair. We cannot avoid these silent comments on what our words are meant to say. Sometimes we may deliberately twist or distort messages to achieve our purposes, and sometimes we send distorted messages without being aware that they are distorted. Occasionally, we may be able to transmit what we mean so that it means the same thing to the person on the receiving end.[5]

One way to think about the different levels from which messages emerge is the Johari Window. Imagine that the human personality could be divided into four parts according to the level or degree to which each part is "open" and "known" to both the sender and the receiver of a communication. This structure could then be represented in matrix form. Each of the areas in the figure can now be defined. The "Open" area contains motivations and behavior whose meanings are shared by the individual and others with whom he is in contact. The individual's feelings and his understanding of these feelings and what he communicates (verbally and nonverbally) are consistent, and they are received and understood by others in the same sense as they are understood and sent by the sender. There is no cover-up and no confusion between his words and his gestures, his expression, and how others interpret his meaning. This is free, honest, and relevant behavior, unburdened by cynicism, distrust, naivete, or any other hidden attitude or feeling. The meanings experienced and sent are the same as those that are experienced and received.[5]

The "Hidden" area includes concealed motivations that are known to the sending individual but unknown to others. In this category are all the "little white lies" in which we indulge, including the bigger deceptions we sometimes use in communicating with others. One illustration is the use of ingratiating behavior for our own gain, aimed at a manager whom we do not like or with whom we privately disagree. Or suppose a friend goes by and calls out, "Hello, how are you!" It is a social convention in our culture that such greetings are not to be taken at face value. They are most often merely a form of recognition. But we cannot always be sure. Is our friend merely using her greeting as a form of recognition, a signal of acknowledgment, an automatic pleasantry to which we automatically respond, "Fine! How are you?" Or is she genuinely concerned with the state of our health and should we tell her that we feel lousy and just lost money in the stock market? In this case, the greeting may be influenced by some hidden agenda or concealed motive that is not clear to us. And to that extent, our communication is not on the same wavelength.[5]

The "Blind" area includes motivations and behavior that are known to others but to which the individual is blind. This is sometimes indelicately called the "bad breath area." We have all known people who have feelings that they do not verbalize, but that manifest themselves in little mannerisms, nervous tics, habitual gestures, grimaces, and the like, which actually change the implications of things they say to us. As an example, think of the person who says, "I'm not scared!" while his face whitens and tightens with visible nervous tension.[5]

Consider the spectacle of high government officials arriving at the White House to discuss the nation's energy crisis in their big limousines on a wintry day, keeping the motors running and the heaters on during the meeting, and later driving off as news cameras clicked and passersby stared. These public servants seemed blissfully unaware of the inconsistency between what they were saying and how they were behaving. In other words, their "blind" side was showing in a way that would have been comical if it had not been so serious.[7]

The "Unknown Potential" area is unknown to both the individual and to others. It is the area that Freud describes as the "unconscious." This area probably contains aspects of ourselves that, if available to us, could increase our general effectiveness as persons. By definition, however, this area is available only through a process of self-discovery, sometimes requiring deep and prolonged psychoanalysis. For our purposes here, we need say only that this unconscious part of our personality influences in unknown ways our communications with other people, as well as affecting our internal communication with ourselves.[5]

To increase our effectiveness in interpersonal communication, it would appear helpful to enlarge the "Open" area of our personality, while at the same time reducing the "Hidden" and "Blind" areas. This may be accomplished through the two interdependent processes of exposure and feedback. If we trust others in a relationship, we may be more willing to reveal some of the motives that we would otherwise keep hidden out of fear of consequences, should our motives become known. At the same time, by giving us information about those nonverbal messages that originate in the "Blind" area, others can help us become aware of the effect that such messages have on the meanings we are trying to convey. This feedback, however, must be in a form that helps to create a supportive, nonthreatening psychological climate. Lacking this emotional support, we would probably continue to be defensive.[5]

Sometimes we complicate the clarity and reliability of verbal messages by either unknowingly or perhaps purposely expressing something that is inconsistent with what we think or feel. Such behavior is not always dysfunctional. For example, we may occasionally feel the need to defend our self-esteem against threats, for example, a seemingly (to us) unfair reprimand by a teacher or a friend that might reduce our personal effectiveness in a particular situation. In addition, there are social conventions that require that we mask our true feelings to avoid hurting someone unnecessarily. These social conventions often help us to maintain stability in relationships with other people.[8]

On the other hand, hidden agendas and blind spots can be dysfunctional if they hide information that could improve rather than hinder our ability to solve the problems we share with others. If someone appears to feel one way about something when in fact he does not, and we base our plan for dealing with him on a mistaken impression, we may miss an opportunity to solve a mutual difficulty. Or, if we are unknowingly doing something that garbles our messages but, if brought to our attention, could be corrected, we would increase our potential for effective communication and for effective action.[8]

[edit] Human resources

Human resources are a vital function within an organization. HR most often serves as the primary outlet for attracting and selecting skilled employees. Companies know that placing ideal employees in the correct position within a firm directly and positively impacts productivity and ultimately profitability for the company. Talent management has become a widespread school of thought in relation to not only successfully attaining these employees as the first step, but also retaining talent and developing desired skills.[9]

[edit] Organizational Justice

Procedural justice

Interactional justice

[edit] Systems of Management


[edit] Theories of organizational communication

Fayol's Management Theory Henri Fayol 1841-1925 Fayol was one of the most influential contributors to modern concepts of management, having proposed that there are five primary functions of management: (1) planning, (2) organizing, (3) commanding, (4) coordinating, and (5) controlling. He also came up with the 14 princibles of management. He was a manager that wanted to educate and train managers how to become verry good at what they do.

Participative Decision Making Theory

Social Loafing and The Social Impact Theory:

Theorists include:

  • Ringelmann, Max: 1913
  • Lantane, Williams and Harkins: 1979

They studied social psychology in groups-particularly in the workplace. They found that when working in a group, the majority of workers put in less effort to achieve a certain goal, than if they worked by themselves.Social Loafing

situational leadership theory

Douglas McGregor introduced the Theory X and theory Y concept which deals with different types of management.

[edit] Research in organizational communication

[edit] Research methodologies

The Oxford learner’s Dictionary defines research as a "careful study or investigation, especially in order to discover new facts or information." Examples would include scientific, clinic and historical researches. It can be also defined research as "the systematic and objective search for and analysis of data with a new to generating information necessary for the solution of problems.

These definitions highlight the fact that it is not engaged in research for the fun of it. Research can be done because it's important to discover new facts, correct misconceptions, extend the definition also points out the fact that it is needed to be orderly, systematic and scientific in carrying out the research otherwise the finding will be of no value. Methodology refers to the ways and means of doing something. Research will be conducted for effective result. Historically, organizational communication was driven primarily by quantitative research methodologies. Included in functional organizational communication research are statistical analyses (such as surveys, text indexing, network mapping and behavior modeling). In the early 1980s, the interpretive revolution took place in organizational communication. In Putnam and Pacanowsky's 1983 text Communication and Organizations: An Interpretive Approach. they argued for opening up methodological space for qualitative approaches such as narrative analyses, participant-observation, interviewing, rhetoric and textual approaches readings) and philosophic inquiries.

During the 1980s and 1990s critical organizational scholarship began to gain prominence with a focus on issues of gender, race, class, and power/knowledge. In its current state, the study of organizational communication is open methodologically, with research from post-positive, interpretive, critical, postmodern, and discursive paradigms being published regularly.

Organizational communication scholarship appears in a number of communication journals including but not limited to Management Communication Quarterly, Journal of Applied Communication Research, Communication Monographs, Academy of Management Journal, Communication Studies, and Southern Communication Journal.

[edit] Current organizational communication research

Organizational communication can include:

Flow of Communication, e.g.,

  • formal, informal

[edit] see also grapevine (gossip)

  • internal, external
  • upward, downward, horizontal
  • networks

Induction, e.g.,

Channels, e.g.,

Meetings, e.g.,

  • briefings
  • staff meetings
  • project meetings
  • town hall meetings

Interviews, e.g.,

More recently, the field of organizational communication has moved from acceptance of mechanistic models (e.g., information moving from a sender to a receiver) to a study of the persistent, hegemonic and taken-for-granted ways in which we not only use communication to accomplish certain tasks within organizational settings (e.g., public speaking) but also how the organizations in which we participate affect us.

These approaches include "postmodern", "critical", "participatory", "feminist", "power/political", "organic", etc. and draw from disciplines as wide-ranging as sociology, philosophy, theology, psychology (see, in particular, "industrial/organizational psychology"), business, business administration, institutional management, medicine (health communication), neurology (neural nets), semiotics, anthropology, international relations, and music.

Thus the field has expanded or moved to study phenomena such as:

Constitution, e.g.,

  • how communicative behaviors construct or modify organizing processes or products
  • how the organizations within which we interact affect our communicative behaviors, and through these, our own identities
  • structures other than organizations which might be constituted through our communicative activity (e.g., markets, cooperatives, tribes, political parties, social movements)
  • when does something "become" an organization? When does an organization become (an)other thing(s)? Can one organization "house" another? Is the organization still a useful entity/thing/concept, or has the social/political environment changed so much that what we now call "organization" is so different from the organization of even a few decades ago that it cannot be usefully tagged with the same word--"organization"?

Narrative, e.g.,

  • how do group members employ narrative to acculturate/initiate/indoctrinate new members?
  • do organizational stories act on different levels? Are different narratives purposively invoked to achieve specific outcomes, or are there specific roles of "organizational storyteller"? If so, are stories told by the storyteller received differently than those told by others in the organization?
  • in what ways does the organization attempt to influence storytelling about the organization? under what conditions does the organization appear to be more or less effective in obtaining a desired outcome?
  • when these stories conflict with one another or with official rules/policies, how are the conflicts worked out? in situations in which alternative accounts are available, who or how or why are some accepted and others rejected?

Identity, e.g.,

  • who do we see ourselves to be, in terms of our organizational affiliations?
  • do communicative behaviors or occurrences in one or more of the organizations in which we participate effect changes in us? to what extent are we comprised of the organizations to which we belong?
  • is it possible for individuals to successfully resist organizational identity? what would that look like?
  • do people who define themselves by their work-organizational membership communicate differently within the organizational setting than people who define themselves more by an avocational (non-vocational) set of relationships?
  • for example, researchers have studied how human service workers and firefighters use humor at their jobs as a way to affirm their identity in the face of various challenges Tracy, S.J.; K. K. Myers; C. W. Scott (2006). Communication Monographs 73: 283–308. . Others have examined the identities of police organizations, prison guards, and professional women workers.

Interrelatedness of organizational experiences, e.g.,

  • how do our communicative interactions in one organizational setting affect our communicative actions in other organizational settings?
  • how do the phenomenological experiences of participants in a particular organizational setting effect changes in other areas of their lives?
  • when the organizational status of a member is significantly changed (e.g., by promotion or expulsion) how are their other organizational memberships affected?

Power e.g.,

  • how does the use of particular communicative practices within an organizational setting reinforce or alter the various interrelated power relationships within the setting? Are the potential responses of those within or around these organizational settings constrained by factors or processes either within or outside of the organization--(assuming there is an "outside"?
  • do taken-for-granted organizational practices work to fortify the dominant hegemonic narrative? Do individuals resist/confront these practices, through what actions/agencies, and to what effects?
  • do status changes in an organization (e.g., promotions, demotions, restructuring, financial/social strata changes) change communicative behavior? Are there criteria employed by organizational members to differentiate between "legitimate" (i.e., endorsed by the formal organizational structure) and "illegitimate" (i.e., opposed by or unknown to the formal power structure)? Are there "pretenders" or "usurpers" who employ these communicative behaviors? When are they successful, and what do we even mean by "successful?"

[edit] See also

[edit] Notes

  1. ^ Katherine Miller, Organizational Communication: Approaches and Processes, 4th ed., p. 1.
  2. ^ Herbert Simon, Administrative Behavior, 4th ed., p 208.
  3. ^ Summarized from concepts developed by Alex Bavelas, "Communication Patterns in Task-Oriented Groups," pp. 503-11; Harold Guetzkow, "Differentiation of Roles in Task-Oriented Groups," pp. 512-26, in Cartwright and Zander, Group Dynamics; H.J. Leavitt, "Some Effects of Certain Communication Patterns on Group Performance," Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology vol. 46, (January 1951), pp. 38-50.
  4. ^ a b Harold Leavitt, Managerial Psychology (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1958), pp. 118-28.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h Richard Arvid Johnson (1976). Management, systems, and society : an introduction. Pacific Palisades, Calif.: Goodyear Pub. Co.. pp. 148–142. ISBN 0876205406 9780876205402. OCLC 2299496. 
  6. ^ a b Virginia Satir (1967). Conjoint family therapy; a guide to theory and technique. Palo Alto, Calif.: Science and Behavior Books. pp. 76–81. OCLC 187068. 
  7. ^ a b c James G March; Herbert A Simon (1958). Organizations. New York: Wiley. pp. 9–11. ISBN 0471567930 9780471567936. OCLC 1329335. 
  8. ^ a b c d Carl R Rogers; Fritz Jules Roethlisberger (1990). Barriers and gateways to communication. Boston, Mass.: Harvard Business Review. pp. 28–34. OCLC 154085959. 
  9. ^ The People Problem in Talent Management

[edit] References

  • Gergen, Kenneth and Tojo Joseph. 1996. "Psychological Science in a Postmodern Context." American Psychologist. October 2001. Vol. 56. Issue 10. p803-813
  • Redding, W. Charles. 1985. "Stumbling Toward Identity: The Emergence of Organizational Communication as a Field of Study" in McPhee and Tompkins, Organizational Communication: Traditional Themes and New Directions. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
  • May, Steve and Mumby, Dennis K. 2005. "Engaging Organizational Communication Theory and Research." Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
  • Cheney, G., Christensen, L.T., Zorn, T.E., and Ganesh, S. 2004. Organizational Communication in an Age of Globalization: Issues, Reflections, Practices." Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press.

[edit] External links

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