HIERARCHIES, NETWORKS, AND MARKETS
In a market each element (individual, firm) pursues its own interest and the interaction between elements produces a collective outcome--the market coordinates the separate activities. Coordination by hierarchy is different in that the actions of similar elements (individuals, firms) are to some extent constrained. Hierarchy presupposes an already determined outcome or purpose; the underlying idea of hierarchy is that such an outcome can be broken down into a set of sub-processes. So hierarchy depends upon ideas of organization, task specialization and rationality. ( Mitchell, 1991, p. 104)
Communication structure research, which encompasses hierarchies, markets, and networks, has always been a central area of organizational communication inquiry. Structure has five central dimensions: relationships, entities, configurations, context, and temporal stability ( Johnson, 1993a). Hence, the following definition of structure: "Organizational communication structure refers to the relatively stable configuration of communication relationships between entities within an organizational context" ( Johnson, 1992, p. 100). Structure provides the basic framework within which information seeking can occur in organizations.
As an example, let us look at the formal and informal communication structures of Conundrum Corporation found in Figures 2.1 and 2.2. The organizational chart in Figure 2.1 specifies the formal division of roles and the official relationships within this organization. Following the formal organizational chart, there are official rules and protocols governing the seeking and giving of information. If the Vice President of Staff Services (#3) wanted information concerning the future supply needs of Group 2 of Product A, s/he would know where the information could be found and would channel his/her request through managers 1, 2, and 4. Needless to say, this would be cumbersome