Organizational Communication

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last updated 10/2/2006

 Critical Approaches to Organization

  Premise:  Power and Control is central to organizational life.  Organizations are locations of

  Some Sources of Power(from G. Morgan. (1986) Images of Organization. Sage, 159.)

  1. Control of Scarce Resources

  2. Use of Organization (cultural) resources:  structure, rules, norms, values, symbols

  3. Control of decision-making (the hidden face of power)

  4. Control of information

  5. Alliances, etc.

  6. Control of technology

  Control of discourse  (see 2 and 3 above) from S. Deetz

  • Communication is constitutive, forming perceptions, never value free, often metaphorical

  • There are four ways control/decision-making (individual or collective, exclusive or inclusive) is accomplished

    • Strategy:  "managerialism," - a systematic embrace of practices that assume control is the ultimate organizational value. It depends on minimizing the ability of any but managers to influence the organization - often yields resistance. 

    • Consent:  willing assent to managers decisions, but often unreflected upon.  It usually involves "buy-in" to the management view - loyalty.

    • Involvement:  includes an ability to express individual needs and views on the organization's direction - forums exist but not necessarily influence.

    • Participation:  meaningful, democratic participation by "stakeholders" (cultural participants) without privileging managerial or purely financial interests.

  • Systematically Distorted Communication blocks achievement of the Critical Approach goal of participation.(the hidden face of power, suppression of conflict, discursive closure) by participants' thinking their interests are something that is not really in the participants' interests (e.g.: "Pay cuts will save all our jobs").