Organizational Communication

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last updated 9/9/2006

Origins of the "Human Relations School"

  Elton Mayo and his team concluded:  (summary of key issues)  (see OC pp. 36-38 )

  1. friendly warm relations with supervisors who listen (First finding that upward communication is important to satisfaction) and are supportive and with peers increase productivity

  2. worker satisfaction with relationships with peers influences productivity and conformity to norms (social pressures can improve output).

  3. supervisors need to understand workers actions in terms of "meanings" workers ascribe to the work environment

(Numbers 1 and 2 above aren't well supported by research, but they were widely believed)

Chester Bernard

 Bernard was an early HR theorist who wrote FUNCTIONS OF THE EXECUTIVE.
Those functions include: 

A. Create and maintain effective communication system

B. Stimulate activity

C. Define goals

  • Bernard's Assumptions:

    1. members of organizations are complex, thinking beings.
    2. decisions are influenced by a complex of personal feelings, interpersonal relations and social pressures, (thus, informal organization and cooperation [ vs obedience to orders) become critical)
    3. making good communication processes necessary. 

The "zone of indifference" anticipates cultural approaches to organizational communication.

Maslow's Need Hierarchy  (see OC pp. 38-40 )
(an important psychological underpinning of HR)

  • survival

  • safety, 

  • affiliation (social), 

  • esteem (respect/ego),

  • self-actualization