Organizational Communication

Dr. Lee McGaan  

  Office:  WH 308  (ph. 309-457-2155);  email
  Home:  418 North Sunny Lane (ph. 309-734-5431, cell 309-333-5447)

Fall 2016 Office Hours:   MWF:  9:30 - 10am, 11am - Noon & 1 -2pm TTh:  2-3pm & by apt.  |  copyright (c) by Lee McGaan, 2006-2016

Course Description Lecture Syllabus Lab Syllabus Assign. Due Dates
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last updated 9/15/2006

Organizations as Systems

The Systems Approach to viewing organizations is also a reaction to the mechanistic view.  Whereas the HR models placed a strong emphasis on individual needs within the organization as a counter to the classical model's over-emphasis on control functions of management, the systems approach seeks a balance by viewing organizations in a more "biological" way, seeing them as self-controlling bodies.  By and large the systems approach has been used more by scholars and consultants to understand organizations than by managers to design and run their businesses.

Key Systems Concepts

  1. Components

    1. hierarchical ordering

    2. interdependence

    3. permeability

  2. Processes - Input-throughput-output

    1. exchange

    2. feedback

      1. positive/amplifying/growth feedback

      2. negative/corrective/deviation-reducing feedback

    3. cybernetic (self-controlling) processes

      1. controlling deviation and oscillation

  3. Properties of all systems

    1. Holism

    2. equifinality

    3. negative entropy

    4. homeostasis and step functions

The Institutional Imperative Described by Warren Buffet of Berkshire-Hathaway.

. . . in a subchapter of the letter entitled, "Mistakes of the First Twenty-Five Years (A Condensed Version)" we come across what Buffett terms his most surprising discovery as a seasoned investor and student of businesses, the existence of "the institutional imperative:"

"For example: (1) As if governed by Newton's First Law of Motion, an institution will resist any change in its current direction; (2) Just as work expands to fill available time, corporate projects or acquisitions will materialize to soak up available funds; (3) Any business craving of the leader, however foolish, will be quickly supported by detailed rate-of-return and strategic studies prepared by his troops; and (4) The behavior of peer companies, whether they are expanding, acquiring, setting executive compensation or whatever, will be mindlessly imitated.

"Institutional dynamics, not venality or stupidity, set businesses on these courses, which are too often misguided."