Organizational Communication

Why study Organizational Communication?

1) Org comm provides the basis for understanding
virtually every human process that occurs in

2) To be aware of communication skills that you as a
college graduate should possess in order to meet
organizational expectation.

3) May start you down the path to a career as a
communication professional in an organization
or as an academic scholar in the field.

Areas of Org Comm

Organizational Communication Structure

The most central idea in functionalist perspective of
organizational communication.

System of pathways through which messages flow
Patterns of interaction among people who comprise
 the organization (who communicates with whom?)

Types of Org Comm Structure

Structural Task
Think of an organization that
you’ve belonged to that fits
each of these organizational

You will provide the “story

Formal Communication Structure
Definition: Communication through officially
designated channels of message flow between
organization positions

Usually found in organizational charts, policy
manuals, or hierarchial structures

3 Types of Formal Communication
1) Downward Communication

2) Upward Communication

3) Horizontal Communication

Downward Communication

Definition: Communication that flows from
upper to lower (such as manager to employer
or superior to subordinate).

Types of messages:
job instructions, job rationales, procedures and
practices information, feedback, and
(Katz & Kahn, 1978)

Pro- efficient (fast)
Con- managerial control

Upward Communication

Definition: Transmission of messages from lower
to higher levels of the organization (such as
communication initiated by subordinates with
their superiors).

Types of messages: performance on the job, job
related problems, fellow employees and their
problems, subordinates perceptions of org policies
and practices, tasks and procedures.

Pro: promotes morale among all employees
Con: not enough superiors encourage subordinate

Horizontal Communication

Definition: Flow of messages across functional
areas at a given level of an organization (this
permits people at the same level to communicate

Type of messages: facilitates problem solving,
info sharing across different work groups, task
coordination between departments and project

Pro: Effective
Con: Not efficient (time consuming)

Informal Communication

Definition: Episodes of interaction that do not
reflect officially designated channels of

The ‘grapevine’ emerges from social and personal
interests of the employees rather than formal
requirements of the organization. Informal comm
is inherent and even a necessary aspect of
organization life.

Pro: Creates a relaxed, comfortable climate
Con: Should not become a substitute for an
ineffective, formal system

Organizational Culture
Definition: Socially constructed reality

Purpose of cultures:

1) Cultures offer an interpretation of an institution’s
history that members can use to decipher how they
will be expected to behave in the future.

2) Cultures can generate commitment to corporate
values or management philosophy so that employees
feel they are working for something they believe in
Organizational Culture

3) Cultures serve as organizational control
mechanisms, informally approving or prohibiting
some patterns of behavior.

4) Some types of organizational cultures are
associated with greater productivity and

Organizational Culture

Organizational culture is not just another
piece of the puzzle; it is the puzzle.  From
our point of view, culture is not something
an organization has; a culture is something
an organization is.
(Geertz & Pacanowsky in Griffin p.274)

Geertz & Pacanowsky

You must experience an organizations culture
to become intimately familiar with it (Griffin, p.275).

Analysis of corporate culture requires interpretation
as well as observation (Griffin, p.276).

Be particularly sensitive to the imaginative language
members use, stories they told, and nonverbal
rites and rituals they practice.

Metaphors can offer the ethnographer a
starting place for accessing the shared
meaning of corporate culture (Griffin, p.276).

Stories are repeated over and over provide
a convenient window through which to view
corporate webs of significance (Griffin, p.277)

Rituals articulate multiple aspects of cultural
life (Griffin, p.279).


Can cultures be created?

Can cultures be altered?

What is the connection between culture and interpretation?

Individual Mission Statement

Step 1: List 3-5 core values
 You can divide these up as
  a) Character values
  b) Contribution values

Step 2: By each value write a purpose statement or
 quote that supports that value.

Step 3: Write out ten questions that you can ask
 mentors or people whom you respect.  Put
 them in a notebook or journaling book.

Step 4: When you receive feedback document it
 and reassess step 1 and step 2.

Step 5: After you feel comfortable with step 1
 and step 2, create your mission statement.