Shared Lenses: General Semantics and the Organizational Culture Perspective

By Burk, John | ETC.: A Review of General Semantics, Fall 1994 | Go to article overview

Shared Lenses: General Semantics and the Organizational Culture Perspective


Burk, John, ETC.: A Review of General Semantics


GENERAL SEMANTICS has been applied to many academic, professional, and personal areas and is a unique, alternative lens through which to view the world. G.S. i a non-linear, non-reductionistic, process-oriented perspective which examines, among other things, the use of language on different levels (see Bois, 1957; Bois 1966; Korzybski, 1948). G.S. can be applied from a low level of descriptio (e.g., pointing at something with our mouth covered) to geopolitical considerations (e.g., the G-7 response to Yugoslavia). Much has been written about the use of G.S. in business and it has been applied to a variety of organizational contexts. Recently, a new paradigm for organizational research has developed which parallels many of the assumptions of G.S. This new paradigm is called The Organizational Culture Perspective (hereafter TOCP) and it can be supported by adopting a G.S. perspective.

Ott (1989), an advocate of TOCP, indicates that researchers need to find new ways of looking at organizations and that TOCP is a unique way to do so.

Instead of viewing an organization as a goal-oriented structure (formal or informal) with functions, information systems, and decision processes, or as groups of members, the organizational culture perspective puts on a different set of "lenses" through which to "see" an organization. When we look through these special organizational culture lenses, we see a mini-society made up of social constructions.

Ott is a firm believer in the social construction of reality whereby all that i known to a culture (facts, values, beliefs, truths, etc.) are agreed upon perceptions.

This perspective is anathema to more popular methods of organizational research which study parts of the organization in isolation to determine what works and what does not. Ott (1989), considers TOCP to be:

a call for balance; a plea for the acceptance of diverse views about and approaches to studying organizations; a cry for breaking out of the information systems/logical-positivist/quasi-experimental mold that has placed a mental and emotional straight jacket on organization theory and theorists for too many years.

This perspective is clearly non-Aristotelian and would be congruous with G.S., in that we need a radical change of thinking about how our world works around us. In particular, we spend most of our lives in some type of organizational setting and understanding that setting is crucial to our sense-making. If TOCP and G.S. can help us in that understanding, then they may serve as useful and viable research methods.

Another perspective of organizational culture embraces a pragmatic, functional, strategic approach, which differs from the social constructionist approach. Thi approach suggests that while organizational cultures do exist, they can also be manipulated if change in the culture is desired. "This explicitly managerial orientation views culture as an organizational variable (something an organization has) which can be manipulated to best suit the needs of the organization -- normally the rationale for changes lies with efficiency, productivity, and worker morale" (Mumby, 1988, p. 7).

Conrad (1990), who adopts this strategic view, sees culture as a communicative creation. Cultures emerge, are maintained, and change through communication. Consequently, the combination of culture and communication is the root of Conrad's perspective. "This dual relationship between communication and culture is the basis of strategic organizational communication. Choosing among availabl communication strategies involves analysis of cultural characteristics and predicting the probable impact those strategies will have in particular organizational situations".

Given either perspective, organizational culture is an elusive concept. "The word 'culture' is a little like the word 'love' -- almost everyone has experienced it and knows what it means, but almost no one can explain what it is" (Conrad, 1990, p. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Shared Lenses: General Semantics and the Organizational Culture Perspective
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.