Organizational Communication: Fad, Fiction or Fact?

By Schonfelder, Valerie | Communication World, June-July 1998 | Go to article overview

Organizational Communication: Fad, Fiction or Fact?


Schonfelder, Valerie, Communication World


What do you get when you cross a monkey, an alligator and a bird? It can fly, it can swim and swing through trees. Well, that's what it feels like to work in the field of organisational communication (OC) sometimes.

OC is one of the buzzworks in our profession. Is it really something new and different? Or, is it the same old stuff with a few tweaks, new wrapping, ribbons and bells?

I imagine many sceptics are thinking, "Oh no, another buzzword to follow Downsizing, Rightsizing, Restructuring, Reengineering, and now - Organisational Communication. Worse, they want to give it an acronym - OC." (It does save space - we'll see if it sticks!)

OC is real, it is exciting and it is very different from traditional internal or employee communication. Don't miss the train because it is difficult to understand how different it is.

The good news is, it is not too late. Most companies don't have the direction decided, the tracks laid, the train to put on them, nor the drivers. You have a chance to be there from the very beginning! OC is an opportunity to influence your organisation's behaviour and culture.

OC is becoming an area of expertise, like public relations, advertising, organisational development and journalism. I do not believe it is a fad on its way in or out, but an area of expertise that is evolving as a consequence of the rapid cultural changes taking place in most organisations and our society as a whole.

Creating a Communication Culture

OC is a holistic approach to communication within an organisation. It assumes that everyone is involved in, and responsible for, communication. OC's focus is on the behaviours and processes needed to create an effective "communication culture" in an organisation. An effective communication culture will ensure the proactive exchange of knowledge, opinions, ideas, by everyone in an organisation. The effect should include faster decision making, increased productivity and allow that old buzzword, empowerment, to actually happen.

Several studies have shown that managers, for example, spend 70-80 percent of their time communicating, depending on which study you read. Communication time can be meetings, writing, on the phone, chatting in the corridors, doing performance reviews, and more.

Imagine, being able to influence that much of someone's day.

But what is it?

OC is kind of a cross between internal communication, human resources, and facilitator. (Don't even try to figure out which one can swim, fly or swing!)

The following dialogue is an example of what could be a focus group discussion or interview from any of the companies we have done OC assessments for. It gives you an idea of what OC experts look for. The dialogue is simplified and only includes the deeper discussions regarding one train of thought. A real discussion would have explored all of the different avenues raised. Many of you may have participated in similar discussion.

[TABULAR DATA OMITTED]

Question: What are some barriers to effective communication?

Answer 1: Managers and supervisors don't communicate weft or at all.

Questions Why? (Repeated often)

Answer 2: Because they don't:

* want to

* know how, have the skills

* think it's part of their job

* have the time

Question: Why?

Answer 3: Because they:

* have other things to do

* communication is not a priority

* don't consider it important

* have other priorities

Questions Why?

Answer 4: Because:

* they are told what their priorities are

* communication is not high on the list

* they are evaluated on other priorities

* it's not one of their objectives

* they are paid for other objectives and tasks

When you dig deeply with the why question and you start going in circles, you may have found a root cause. …

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

Organizational Communication: Fad, Fiction or Fact?
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.