Friday, October 19, 2007

Alex Malliaris - Chapters 2 & 3

Chapter 2 is a discussion of the four approaches that have been taken towards organizational communication. When communication is viewed as the transfer of information there is a sender and a receiver involved. Each individual has a clearly defined role in the interaction and the sender is goal-oriented in that there is a specific objective in mind when the message is conveyed. Communication has been effective if the recipient of the message understands what has been said. When communication is viewed as a transactional process, both the sender and receiver are actively involved and interchanging roles throughout the course of the transmission. Even in silence, communication is active because nonverbal and verbal information has equal importance. It is up to the sender, in this scenario, to adapt his message in such a way as to make it meaningful to the recipient. When communication is viewed as strategic control, ambiguity is advantageous. Everyone can take a message to mean something quite different depending upon his or her particular point of view. By sending one vague message, multiple receivers can be struck in a variety of ways based on their personal involvement. This textbook favors the understanding of communication as a balance between creativity and constraint. Society and corporations alike place certain restrictions on individuals and employees. These rules or confines can be viewed as inspiration rather than confinement.

Chapter 3 overviews the history narratives of organizational communication. During the time of the Industrial Revolution, the classical management approach was favored. Science was progressing faster than ever before and the same approach that was taken towards business was applied to employees. A clear distinction was made between those in authority and those under authority. All the power belonged to managers in those days and the employees were required to mindlessly take orders without causing any disturbance in the system. In time, people became disenchanted with this communication style and a new approach came into view. The human relations approach was ushered in by labor union that refused to stand for the abuse and undervaluing of workers. Tensions rose between managers and employees over poor working conditions and the voice of the commom man was finally being heard. This approach took into consideration the natural drive in each person to be involved in meaningful work. Once people were satisfied and happy in their occupation, the natural result would be an increase in productivity. The Hawthorne Studies were particularly interesting to me. In this experiment, two groups of workers were observed while they labored under various lighting conditions. In the end, what was revealed was that the level of illumination in the rooms where the people were working had little impact on the quality of work, but that those under more careful managerial observation were more diligent. This is obvious in classrooms, for example, when group work is assigned. People often goof off as long as possible, but when the professor comes around, everyone appears busy and productive. The human resources approach is most like the human relations approach. People need to have their needs met, particularly their need for self-actualization. In some industries this may be impossible, but in others it is certainly acheivable. Relationships within companies should be supportive and encouraging and these bonds will inspire people's best work. Perhaps in the future, other approaches to communication will be implemented as would best fit the times. Our values as individuals and as a society will determine the future of organizational communication.

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