People can relate to each other only through some form of communication. The survival of an organization depends on individuals and groups who are able to maintain among themselves effective and continuing relationships. If we can understand organizational communication, we will understand the organization itself. 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 human relationships. The word transfer means 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.
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 subunits.
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".
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.
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?"
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 different patterns of communication:
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.
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.
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. 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:
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.
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.
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.
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. There are different variables and suggests some of the difficulties of communicating with understanding from one person to another. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. torically, 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
Organizational communication can include:
Flow of Communication, 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:
Interrelatedness of organizational experiences, e.g.,