Org. Comm. Exam 1

five basic elements of organizations
• Social Collectivity
• Organizational and Individual Goals
• Coordinating Activity
• Organizational Structure
• Embedding Within Environment
5 lenses of Organizational Communication
Human Relations/ Human Resources
How do these lenses differ?
Classical- study of organizations as machines
Human Relations/ Human resources- Organizations as families/ teams
Structural- Organizations as organisms or networks
Cultural- Organizations as stories
Critical- Organizations as systems of dominance
Is one approach different than the other?
Why is it important to study organizations?
Social benefits and ills
Mediating effects
Collective actors
What does it mean to say that communication constitutes organizations?
Communication makes up an organization.
Why should we study organizational communication?
It is important to study and analyze how different hierarchical structures whether it be vertical (flowing downward), horizontal (among employees), or free flowing help organizations achieve a common goal. Communication within an organization is extremely important to achieve common goals.
What are examples of problems that a communication perspective helps solve?
• Classical- Telecommuting Practices
• Human Relations-How to fix a company engagement problem
• Structural-Why CEO’s are going without offices
• Cultural-Unlimited vacation policy
• Critical- Mistreatment of day labors
Requisite Variety
A successful org/ group needs to be as complicated as the problems that confront them.
How do the forces of globalization, terrorism, climate change, and changing demographics influence organizations?
Each of these factors contribute as to how organizations operate, and these forces provide a deeper insight as to how these different organizations run with these forces acting on them.
Businesses move manufacturing and service centers to countries where labor is cheap.
Co-op or Cooperative
Individuals with similar needs and goals to come together in organizations.
Virtual organization
organizations without “brick and mortar” physical locations; presence is existence through computers and communication technology
Multinational Organization
Employees of a single organization found in many locations worldwide.
Explain the SMCR model.
A Source transmits a Message through a Channel to a Receiver.
How does the text criticize this model?
It fails to encompass the varying ways we need to think about communication.
Transmission Model
Communication is a way of moving information from sources to receivers, similar to SMCR model
Constitutive Model
communication is seen as a “process that produces and reproduces shared meaning”
What does the machine metaphor emphasize about organizing?
• Machines have specialization
• They have standardization
• They are predictable
Specialization, Standardization, and Predictability.
• Specialization- People have specific roles
• Standardization- Replaceability
• Predictable- Machines are predictable
Is the machine metaphor common or rare in popular beliefs about how organizations work?
Taking the machine metaphor, what is the main goal of organizations?
• Production and efficiency is main priority, Don’t care much about employees
What form of collective activity is the “modern officialdom?”
• Bureaucracy
Who is Max Weber?
A German sociologist, lived in the same time period of Fayol. Scholar of the “modern officialdom”. Created the Theory of Bureaucracy.
What are Weber’s six facets of bureaucracy.
• Fixed responsibility/ division of labor
• Hierarchy/clearly defined
• Centralized decision making
• Closed
• Rules/ Documentation
• Rational/ Legal-authority
Traditional Authority
based on long standing beliefs about who should have control and is often vested in particular positions within an organizational hierarchy.
Charismatic Authority
Power based on individual’s personality and ability to interact with followers
Rational- Legal Authority
Power based on the rational application of rules developed through a reliance on information and expertise.
What form of authority does a bureaucracy draw on?
Rational Legal Authority
Was Weber critical of bureaucracy?
Ideal type theory
Does not advocate a particular organizational form as best but rather lays out the features of an abstract- or idealized- organization of a given type.
What are the advantages of bureaucracy?
Structured organization, with power resting at the top. Rules and guidelines for everything.
In what sense is bureaucracy enlightened compared to other forms of collective behavior?
A clearly defined hierarchy allows for organizations to work effectively as well as efficiently.
What is scientific management?
Idea that highlights a clear distinction between managers and employees and focuses on the control of the individual and work
Time and motion study
Research by managers that seeks to find the most time- efficient way for employees to accomplish a specific work task.
Who is Frederick Winslow Taylor?
U.S Businessman whose goal was to provide prescriptions for how organizations could be better run. Created Theory of Scientific Management
Was Taylor critical of scientific management?
Four principles/practices of scientific management
• There is one best way to do every job
• Proper selection of workers for the job
• Importance of training workers
• Inherent difference between management and workers
Are they relevant today? Provide examples.
Yes (ex. Fast food chains)
Critiques of scientific management
• Manager Bias
• Dehumanizing
• Political process
• Science is an important process
• No one right way to manage organizational problems
Communication facets of organizations: content, flow/direction, channel, style.
• Content of Communication- Task
• Direction of Communication- Vertical (downward)
• Channel of Communication- Written (most prominent)
• Style- Formal
What communication pattern reflects the existence of hierarchy?
Vertical Communication (downward)
Vertical communication
Communication within an organization moves downward (ex. from CEO to supervisors then supervisors to managers and then managers down to employees.)
Upward communication
Employees are able to talk to people up the chain. Ex, an employee talking to a supervisor.
Content of upward communication
What factors influence the frequency of upward communication in organizations?
• Workload
• Trust in superior
• And positive/negative information
Explain subordinate’s workload, subordinate’s trust in the superior, the favorableness of information to the subordinate.
• Depending on an employee’s workload (amount of work that they have), level of trust in their superior and depending on whether it is good or bad information determines the frequency of communication between the employee and superior.
Explain the array of these factors that would maximize their effect on the frequency of upward communication. What array would minimize it?
• Low Workload
• High Trust
• Positive Information
• High Workload
• Low Trust
• Negative Information
What factors influence distortion in upward communication in organizations?
• Low Trust
• High Aspirations
• Supervisor has lots of upward influence
Explain subordinate’s trust in the superior, subordinate’s aspirations for upward mobility, superior’s upward influence.
Subordinate’s trust (How much do they trust the supervisor?), aspirations (does the employee want to move up the chain?) and the superior’s upward influence (how close is the supervisor to people up the chain ex. put in a good word) all play a role in the distortion of information.
How well does the classical approach capture how upward communication actually functions?
Not very well
Define downward communication.
Dissemination of information from management to employees
What does downward communication consist of in general?
Task related
Is there one right way to communicate in organizations? Explain.
No because different organizations may do better under different organizational approaches.
Who is Henri Fayol?
“Father of Modern Operational Management Theory” French industrialist that lived in the late 19th and early 20th century. Created the Theory of Classical Management
How does his theory of management fit the machine metaphor?
Tells us that organizations should have strict vertical hierarchies and that management is in charge. Employees do not have a say.
Scalar chain.
An organization should be arranged in a strict vertical hierarchy and that communication should be largely limited to this vertical flow
Span of Control
Managers will be most effective if they have control of a limited number of employees
Esprit de corps
“All for one and one for all”
what is Fayol’s Gangplank (aka Fayol’s bridge)?
Horizontal communication with other employees. (upon manager’s approval)
Systematic soldiering
Social pressure to keep productivity down and wages up.
Which of the classical theories are considered ‘prescriptive’?
• Henry Fayol’s Theory of Classical Management and Frederick Taylor’s Theory of Scientific Management
What metaphor characterizes human relations approaches?
The Family metaphor
Are efficiency and productivity still important for human relations and human resources approaches?
Does the development of these newer approaches mean that scientific management was abandoned?
Explain what the family metaphor emphasizes (e.g., social factors, feedback, human needs)?
Employees as individuals characterized by needs for attention, social interaction, and individual achievement.
What is the importance of the Hawthorne studies for human relations?
Hawthorne studies served as a springboard that moved organizations from the classical school to the human relations school.
What is ‘corporate fun’?
Fun activities that organizations set up for people within the organization to do. Ex. Trip to six flags
Explain McGregor’s Theory X and Y.
Theory X
• Influenced by the most negative aspects of classical management (workers need to be led, they are stupid, gullible)
• Forceful hand
Theory Y
• One who adheres to the precepts of the human relations movement
• Assumes that workers are highly motivated to satisfy achievement
What factors influence satisfaction and dissatisfaction with work?
Dissatisfaction=Hygiene Factors
Satisfaction= Motivation factors
Define and give examples of hygiene and motivating factors.
Hygiene- We don’t notice until we have a problem
Ex. Policy, salary, interpersonal relations
Motivation factors- Achievement. Recognition, growth salaries
according to lecture and the textbook, does job satisfaction lead to job performance?
Explain the two problems with the human relations approach we reviewed in class.
Pseudo Changes: “fake” changes used to control employees
Pseudo Participation: “fake” participation, not part of final decision
What metaphor characterizes the human resources approach?
Team Metaphor
how is human resources distinct from human relations?
Human relations aspires to maximize both organizational productivity and individual need satisfaction.
Human Resources approach emphasizes contribution that employees make to organizations.
Explain Likert’s four organizational systems
Likert theorizes that there are a number of forms an organization can take and that these various forms are more or less effective in satisfying organizational and individual goals.
Exploitative Authoritative (Classical)
Motivation through threats and fears, downward and inaccurate communication, top-level decision making, the giving of orders, and top level control.
Benevolent Authoritative (Classical)
Motivation through economic and ego rewards, limited communication, decision making at the top, goal setting through orders and comments, and top level control. Similar to System 1, but does not incorporate the explicit goal of exploiting workers.
Consultative Organization (Human Relations)
Decisions are still made at the top, control still rest primarily at the upper levels of the hierarchy, however, before decisions are made, employees are consulted and views are taken into consideration
Participative Organization (Human Resources)
Decision making is performed by every organizational member; goals are set by complete work groups. Control is exercised at all levels of the organization, communication is extensive (Upward, downward, horizontal), contributions of all organizational members is strongly valued.
How does Blake and Mouton’s model of leadership demonstrate human resources principles?
Concern for people is taken into consideration in the model.
What do Blake & Mouton claim is the best approach to leadership in their model? Why?
Team- management approach because such an approach would maximize concern for both production and people.
How does the model distinguish between the styles?
By the Concern for production and the concern for people lines.
Explain the communication emphases of Human Relations and Human Resources.
All directions, but horizontal is extremely important
How are we defining feedback in this class?
Feedback is a negative evaluation of a person for an act which he or she is deemed responsible.
How is it different from giving complaints or compliments?
Feedback uses both to address an issue and provides constructive criticism to help resolve the issue.
Why is feedback giving important?
• Provides a basis for improvement for the person.
• It can improve performance.
• Unclear feedback will not resolve issues
• It’s challenging
What are examples of consequences for poorly given feedback for organizations?
Bad feedback can affect relationships
What are the guidelines for giving feedback more effectively?
• Start positive
• It’s the behavior not the person
• Provide reasons and benefits
• Be specific and offer help
• Limit around 2 or 3 things to provide feedback on
• Give feedback quickly
Explain Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
• Proposes that humans are motivated by a number of basic needs, including physiological needs, safety needs, affiliation needs, esteem needs, and self-actualization needs.
Explain the five levels of needs in the hierarchy.
• Physiological- Needs for the human body (ex. Need for food, water, sleep, and sensory gratification)
• Safety- desire to be free from danger and environmental threats.
• Affiliation needs- necessity of giving and receiving human affection and regard
• Esteem- Desire of individuals to feel a sense of achievement and accomplishment.
• Self- actualization- desire to “become more and more what one is, to become everything that one is capable of becoming”
Must lower-order needs be satisfied before higher-order needs can be fulfilled?
What is hierarchy of prepotency?
Lower level needs must be satisfied before higher level needs are met.
According to Blake and Mouton’s model, should all managers adopt a team management approach? Why or why not?
Yes because then managers are extremely concerned about production and people.
Are total quality management and team-based organizing appropriate in every situation?
What is the difference between thinking of organizational communication as communication within organizations and thinking of it as communication as organization?
• Communication within organizations is seen as sometimes as container and communication is what flows in the container. Takes the shape of the organization. Organization exists separately from communication.
Which approach is conventional?
Communication within Organization (Flat Earth Approach)
Which approach emphasizes communication as about transmitting information versus the shaping of social reality?
Communication as Organization (Round Earth Approach)
How does each approach conceptualize communication breakdowns?
Communication within organizations breaks down communication as just what happens within these communications. Communication as organizations breaks down communication that makes up organizations.
How does the contrast between the approaches help explain the persistence and prominence of communication problems in organizational life?
• As a transmission error. Conventional
• How the person receives the message. Constitutive
What metaphor characterizes systems approaches?
Biological Systems metaphor
What does the biological systems metaphor suggest about organizations?
They are systems with an assemblage of parts.
What are the components that we have for describing systems.
Hierarchical Ordering
What are the processes that we have for describing systems?
Exchange: Input and output processes require exchange between the system and the environment. Throughput process require exchange among system components, permeable boundaries

Feedback: System control is maintained through feedback

· Corrective (negative) Feedback: keeps system on a steady course, also known as deviation reducing; goal is to maintain/stabilize

· Growth (positive) Feedback: serves to transform or change a system; also known as deviation-amplifying, helps changes a system

What are the properties that we have for describing systems?
Negative Entropy
Requisite Variety
Hierarchical ordering
System components are arranged in complex ways that involve subsystems and supersystems (ex. Body, or hospital)
Implies that the functioning of one component of a system relies on other components of the system. (ex. Brain relies on constant supply of blood in order to function)
System components have boundaries that allow information to flow in and out.(human body must be open to its environment in order to take in air, food, water, etc…)
System is more than the sum of its parts. (5 individuals are asked to solve an organizational problem. They come up with solutions on their own but together they can come up with many more problem solving ideas)
A system can reach the same final state from differing initial conditions and by a variety of paths.
Negative Entropy
ability to sustain themselves and grow. (ex. U.S auto companies in the 1960s and in the first decade of the 21st century)
Requisite Variety
internal workings of the organization must be as diverse and complicated as the environment in which it is embedded. (political campaign)
network content
stuff that is flowing through linkages in the network
network mode
the communication medium through which network linkages are maintained
level of analysis
INTRA-organizational networks will look at connections among individuals WITHIN a given organization
INTER-organizational networks will consider links BETWEEN many organizations
link strength
How strong of a link flowing between two people
link symmetry
People who are communicating share the same kind of relationship with each other (ex. Coworker to coworker) Asymmetrical is subordinate to supervisor.
The number of different kinds of content that flow through a particular network link
Node who doesn’t talk to anyone in the network
Serves as a bridge to people outside the network
Someone who talks to two radically different people and becomes the middle man.
network density
refers to the number of interconnections in the organization