CHAPTER 12 Theories of Organizational Communication Metaphors for Studying Organizational Communication
machine: highlights rational decision making, concerned with functionality and goals of the organization as a whole system: highlights interconnection and interdependence within and among subsystems and supersystems and environment culture: highlights meaning and values, stories, rituals (grounded in local interactions, interpretive) instruments of domination (critical) Weicks Theory of Organizing
Weicks work considers the intersection of organizing and communicating through a consideration of sense-making in the organization context Difference between social psychology of organizations and social psychology of organizing (not a container in which comm. happens but mutual influence between communicating and organizing). Weick: The Process of Organizing
Enactment processes: Members constitute social environment through a process of bracketing They notice and respond to elements in the environment (other persons behaviors or events) that subsequently influence behaviors and then fold back into (constitute) the environment Weick, cont.
Selection processes: Sense-making through selecting, organizing, and framing events to construct meaning Equivocality: multiple interpretations of same event Not too little information coming in, but too much Sense-making occurs through the use of recipes (for unequivocal information environments) or through communication negotiation (for equivocal information environments)
Weick, cont. Retention processes: interpretive schemes (recipes) are stored for future use Interpretive schemes are stored in the form of causal maps (if I do X, Y will follow) Causal maps provide a link back to earlier phases of Weicks model Stored maps and recipes are the source of culture and strategy for organizations and identities and continuities of individuals within organizations. Structuration Theory: Giddens
Duality of structure actions produce and reproduce social structures, and then are enabled and constrained by those structures Structure Action Structuration Theory, cont.
Agency: We are active agents who produce and reproduce the social world We make rule-guided and creative choices about how to act. These choices are constrained by our circumstances Structuration Theory, cont. Reflexivity: As agents in the social world, we can observe what we are doing, give accounts of situations, and act creatively
Dialectic of Control: As reflexive agents, we always have the capacity to make a difference in the social world we operate within structures, but are able to change those structures. Structuration Theory, cont. Structures: Rules and resources that constrain and enable action in the social world. Rules: Typically unstated and routinized
procedures for how to get things done (more or less durable). Resources: The capabilities social actors draw on to get things done: allocative (material) or authoritative (status/position) highly routinized practices = social systems highly routinized rules and resources = institutions (p. 216 bottom) Structuration Theory in Organizational Communication Structurational studies Organizational form
structure = rules and resources that org. members use to coordinate their interactions Organizational climate intersubjective and created through discourse (e.g., friendly, competitive) Structuration Theory in Organizational Communication Studies of organizational communication genres such as memos (email? State Farm)
Genre structures influence, but do not dictate practice Studies of organizational (or professional) identification and ideology Transitions during organizational mergers AA group meetings (alcoholic self is both agent and outcome as it evolves through recursive group practices and individual actions) The Text and Conversation of
Organizing (Taylor) Organizations and communication produce each other in reciprocal process (in contrast to container metaphor or causal view) Text -- the content of interaction (can be made available through face-to-face interaction or alternative media). Conversation is the communicative interaction itselfwhat is happening behaviorally between
two or more people. Translation Process: From Text to Conversation Text is meaning; conversation is activity. Conversation is a string of texts collaboratively produced Conversation and Text work together in two translations which are: Recursive (reciprocal) Simultaneous Translation Process:
(Simultaneous and Recursive) Translations: One: From text (meaning) to conversation Borrows from speech act theory illocutionary force or intended action of speaker Intent, context, relationship Two: From conversation to text (reduce the conversation to a text or summary) Like episodes from CMM, or bracketing of events From Text and Conversation to
Organizational Communication Sohow does this apply to organizations? Organizational communication is formalized through processes of distanciation: Distance between intended meaning of speaker and what is created and retained from the interaction From Text and Conversation to Organizational Communication
Degrees of separation: Distance of a particular communication act from original intent of speaker Cycles of movement between text and conversation Layered objectification of meaning and interaction in increasingly abstract, formalized and procedural forms From Text and Conversation to Organizational Communication
The Degrees of Separation 1st degreespeaker intent into conversation 2nd degreeconversation translated into narrative representation. 3rd degreetext is transcribed (objectified) e.g., minutes of a meeting Table 12.2 (p. 222) Unobtrusive and Concertive Control Theory (Barker, Cheney, Tompkins)
Traditional ways of looking at control: simple control (direct and authoritarian exertion of power) technological control (physical technology used in an org.from assembly line to computer technology) bureaucratic control (not an individual but of a system of rules that control rewards and punishments) Unobtrusive & Concertive Control Theory
Barker et al. Identification refers to a sense of connection that develops between an individual and a social group (e.g., organizations, work groups, and other social collectives) Discipline refers to using the norms and values of the organization as a guide for behavior Unobtrusive & Concertive Control Theory Identification with an organization leads members to
adopt (internalize) the organizations standards Unobtrusive control occurs when decisions of the individual are premised on organizational values (parallel to control by consent, self-censorship) Concertive control occurs when members of work group reward and punish each other for conformity to group values (similar to peer pressure) Closing Question What examples of the following types of
control do you see/experience in the graduate program? simple control technological control bureaucratic control concertive control unobtrusive
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