Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Organizational Communication and theory

Organizational Communication is a course that I have not gotten to teach as often as I like but I do have a class this semester and as we continue into the semester I am reminded why I enjoy this class.

At Coker, we spend time in this class on organizational theories, case histories and practical applications and currently we have been exploring some of the historical theories that set up the study of organizations. I am not sure the students enjoy learning of Weber's observations of bureaucracy or Fayol's and Taylor's prescriptions for making big organizations more effective as much as I enjoy talking about those things. So, one of my challenges is to find ways of making the old stuff relevant. One analogy we used today was the hierarchical nature of a sports team like soccer. There is a strict vertical hierarchy, there are special jobs and each member of the organization is expected to do his/her job. There may be some horizontal communication among the teammates but the bottom-up communication is not a high priority. When it comes to practice, everyone is expected to conform to the norms and there is not much latitude for individual preference. But, if you are not on a soccer team, a baseball team or a basketball team or volleyball team, or football team that might not be a great analogy. We did work to explain it in depth.
The real point here is trying to connect the classroom conversation to the real world the students will be entering to become communication specialists and communication experts.

A couple of weeks ago I ran across an article in the online version of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL called "The End of Management" by an author named Alan Murray. Murray adapted this article from some of the information in his new book, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO MANAGEMENT - cc 2010 HarperCollins Publishers.
Murray is referring to many of the ideas, observations and theories that we are discussing in class and I have put a discussion board assignment up hoping this helps those in the class get a good sense that what is in the books does totally relate to what is in the office or the production line or the project space.

i am hoping the students do enjoy reading this article and referring it to some of the theories because there are very significant implications for the massive changes we are experiencing in our work worlds.

1 comment:

  1. The greatest innovation of the 20th century is management which I would agree with. From an organizational communication viewpoint I would like to propose that the greatest innovation for the 21st century will be the manner in which we can create an organizational culture that benefits not only our organization but our customers. Prime example zappos.com and their CEO Tony Hsieh. Without a doubt he has created an organizational culture that is so deeply entrenched in their business model that it benefits both the organization and the customers. Exceptional customer service driven by the organizations culture. The knowledge and skill to create/manipulate organizational culture may be the next best innovation within org com. I hope your org com class will also get to look at this fascinating aspect of organizational communication.

    Tim Morton