Corporate Communications: A Comparison of Japanese and American Practices

By William V. Ruch | Go to book overview

10
Upward Communication in the American Corporation

Upward communication is the transmission of information from subordinate to superior, not necessarily one's immediate supervisor. Oral reporting of performance to a supervisor is the most common form of upward communication.

The importance of upward communication is that it provides management with information that is unavailable otherwise, as users of quality circles have discovered. The impressions of the persons "on the front line" and data on their experiences are important to management planning and decision making. Most American managers have only recently begun to realize this.

An employee communication effectiveness survey conducted by the International Association of Business Communicators and Towers, Perrin, Forster and Crosby, Inc., polled 45,000 employees in 40 U.S. and Canadian companies. It found that of the top five major sources of information preferred by employees, four involve face-to-face communication with the immediate supervisor in small group meetings, with top executives and in orientation programs. Lacking in most organizations, according to the survey results, are "formal upward communication programs. Only 55 percent of the survey respondents said their firm's management both talks and listens. As a major current source of information, upward communication programs were ranked last among fifteen possible choices." 1


THEORY

The effectiveness of upward communication varies directly with the effectiveness of downward communication. Drucker regards upward

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