Slajd 1 - Jerzy Supernat

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Communication
in organizations
dr. hab. Jerzy Supernat
Institute of Administrative Studies
University of Wrocław
Communication in organizations
Organizations
are
information-processing systems*.
The business of the managers
is
communication**.
* The very establishment of an organizational structure is a sign that communications are supposed to follow a particular path. Power, leadership, and
decision-making rely upon the communication process, either explicitly or implicitly, since they would be meaningless in the absence of information.
** Managers spend an overwhelming proportion of their time in communication.
dr hab. Jerzy Supernat
Communication in organizations
Gareth Morgan in one of his
metaphors sees the organization
as a brain. This image captures
the idea that organizations:

receive and filter information
process information in the light
of what they have already learned


interpret information

change information

act on information

have memory lapses
Communication in organizations
Communication is most important in
organizations that:
 must deal with uncertainty
 are complex
 have a technology that does not
permit easy routinization
The more an organization is people
and idea oriented, the more important
the communication becomes.
dr hab. Jerzy Supernat
Communication in organizations
Chester I. Barnard: In an exhaustive theory of organization, communication would occupy a central place, because the structure, extensiveness, and
scope of the organizations are almost entirely determined by communication
techniques.
According to C.I. Barnard:
channels of communication should be definitely
known
 objective authority requires a definite formal channel
of communication to every member of an organization
 the line of communication must be as direct or short
as possible
 the complete formal line of communication should
normally be used
 the persons serving as communication centers should
be competent
 the line of communication should not be interrupted
while the organization is functioning
 every communication should be authenticated

Chester I. Barnard
(1886-1961)
dr hab. Jerzy Supernat
Communication in organizations
Richard H. Hall
Pamela S. Tolbert
Communications in organizations should provide accurate information with the appropriate emotional overtones* to all members who need the communication content. This assumes that
neither too much nor too little information is in the system and
that it is clear from the outset who can utilize what is available.
* overtones – n. things that are suggested but not shown or stated clearly:
Her words were polite, but there were overtones of anger in her voice.
dr hab. Jerzy Supernat
Communication in organizations
The best way
of communicating
with my humble
self
[email protected]
dr hab. Jerzy Supernat
Communication in organizations
Jerzy Supernat
+48 71 375 2090
(in duty hours)
dr hab. Jerzy Supernat
Communication in organizations
Communication in Henry Mintzberg’s Model of Managerial Roles
In short, the business of the managers is communication. (…) As monitor, the manager perpetually
scans his environment for information (...) In his
disseminator role, the manager passes some of
his privileged information directly to his subordinates (...) In his spokesman role, the manager
sends some of his information to people outside his
unit (...).
dr hab. Jerzy Supernat
Communication in organizations
Communication as a relational phenomenon
The communication process is by definition a relational one: one
party is the sender and the other the receiver at a particular time.
The relational aspect of communication obviously affects the process.
The social relations occurring in the communication process involve
the sender and the receiver and their reciprocal effects on each other
as they are communicating. Intimidation, status differences, different
perceptual models, sexual attraction, and so on have the potential to
disrupt the sender-receiver relationship.
Communication in organizations
Since communication involves something being sent to a receiver,
what the receiver does with or to the communicated message is
perhaps the most vital part of the whole system. Therefore, the
perceptual process becomes a key element in our understanding of
communication in organizations:
•
the phenomenon of stereotyping
•
halo effect
•
projection
•
perceptual defense
the imposition of negative or positive
characteristics on the members of
the communication system
the use of only one or a few indicators
to generalize about a total situation
a person’s assuming that the other members of communication
system have the same characteristics as the person’s own
altering inconsistent information to put it in line
with the conceptual framework already developed
dr hab. Jerzy Supernat
Communication in organizations
Vertical communication
(downward and upward)
in an organization
dr hab. Jerzy Supernat
Communication in organizations
Downward communication
According to Daniel Katz (1903-1998) and Robert
L. Kahn (born 1918) there are five elements of
downward communication:
job instructions (direct orders, job descriptions,
etc.)

Robert L. Kahn
Daniel Katz
the rationale for a task and its relationships to
the rest of the organization

information regarding procedures and practices
within the organization

feedback to individuals regarding their
performance

attempts to indoctrinate subordinates into
accepting and believing in the organization’s goals

Communication in organizations
Upward communication*
Contrary to the law of gravity, communication in organizations
must also go up. According to Daniel Katz and Robert L. Kahn
communication up the line can be reduced to what people say:

about themselves, their performance, and their problems

about others and their problems

about organizational practices and policies

about what needs to be done and how it can be done
* The most obvious problem in upward communication is hierarchy: people are
unlikely to pass information up if it will be harmful to themselves or their peers. And
whereas communications downward become more and more detailed and specific,
those going up the hierarchy must become condensed and summarized.
dr hab. Jerzy Supernat
Communication in organizations
Whistleblowing
A widely accepted definition of whistleblowing by British lawyer
Gordon Johnson Borrie (born 1931) is as follows: „(...) the disclosure
by an employee (or professional) of confidential information which
relates to some danger, fraud or other illegal or unethical conduct
connected with the workplace, be it of the employer or of fellow
employees”.
dr hab. Jerzy Supernat
Communication in organizations
Horizontal communication
in an organization
Communications in organizations go in more directions than up
and down. Horizontal or lateral communication is a regular and
important facet of organizational life.
dr hab. Jerzy Supernat
Communication in organizations
Communication problems*

Omission. Omission involves the deletion of aspects of messages**. It may be intentionally or unintentionally.

Distortion. Distortion refers to altered meanings of messages as they pass through the organization.

Overload. Overload leads to omission and contributes to
distortion.
* Messages are transformed or altered as they pass through the communication system.
The fact that they are transformed means that the ultimate recipient of the message
receives something different from what was originally sent, thus destroying the intent of
the communication process.
** Omission can occur simply as a removal of details, with the heart of the message still
transmitted. This is the ideal, of course, but is not usually achieved, since part of the
content of the message is usually omitted also.
dr hab. Jerzy Supernat
Communication in organizations
Information as an organizational problem
Aaron Bernard Wildavsky (1930-1993): Organizations
exist to suppress data. Some data are screened in but
most are screened out. The very structure of organizations – the units, the levels, the hierarchy – is designed
to reduce the data to manageable and manipulatable
proportions. (...) at each level there is not only compression of data but absorption of uncertainty. It is not
the things in themselves but data – reduction summaries
that are passed up until, at the end, executives are left with mere
chains of inferences. Whichever way they go, error is endemic: If
they seek original sources, they are easily overwhelmed; if they rely
on what they get, they are easily misled.
dr hab. Jerzy Supernat
Communication in organizations
Possible solutions of
communication problems
 redundancy
 meetings*
 matrix-like systems
 project groups / task forces
 putting things in writing
 advanced communication
technologies
* Although meetings can be quite valuable, it is obvious that time spent in
meetings is time not spent on other
activities.
Concluding Remarks
The three hardest tasks in the world are neither
physical feats nor intellectual achievements, but
moral acts: to return love for hate, to include the
excluded, and to say, „I was wrong”.
The two words „information” and „communication”
are often used interchangeably, but they signify
quite different things. Information is giving out;
communication is getting through.
Sydney J. Harris, 1917-1986
dr hab. Jerzy Supernat
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