Organizational Communication

Chapter 6
Organizational Communication
Chapter Summary
Organizational communication is the study of communication is organizations. In this chapter,
organizations and organizational communication are defined. Then the chapter discusses the
various approaches to studying organizational communication. Organizational
socialization/assimilation is then described. Next, organizational identity and culture, followed
by organizational dissent are examined.
Definition of Organizational Communication and Different Approaches to Studying
Organizational Communication
Organizational communication is the study of communication in the context of an organization
and the chapter begins with some theoretical discussion about upward/downward
communication, and channels of communication within an organization in the 1960s. There are
two main approaches to organizational communication. The first one looks at organizational
communication as a specific field of communication and examines the theories within it, while
the second approach tries to define a theory of communication in organizations. Along with the
approaches, different methodologies of organizational research have influenced this line of
There are four main approaches to organizational communication. Normative studies that seek
out regularities and generalizations in organizations, which are heavily dependent on theory.
Understanding Communication Theory, by Stephen Croucher
© Taylor & Francis 2015
Normative studies include three styles of covering laws, systems theory, and communication
skills. Interpretive studies emphasize the metaphor of organizational culture as an individual
experience and they are mostly qualitative and less dependent on theory. Critical approaches
focus on ideological critiques of organizational structures. The fourth approach is the dialogic
approach, which is the subject of study at this level.
Process of Organizational Socialization/Assimilation
Socialization and assimilation into an organization involves different stages of entering,
becoming a part of the organization, and feeling the satisfaction of being a member. Processes of
vocational anticipatory socialization and organizational entry/assimilation can help us to
understand organizational assimilation. Vocational anticipatory socialization (VAS) is defined as
the beliefs or expectations of how an organization should work. The main sources of VAS are
family, peers, educational institutions, media, and part-times jobs. Organizational assimilation is
the process of becoming integrated into an organization. It contains the three stages of having
knowledge about the organization before entering, encountering the organization, and
transforming into a member.
Organizational Identity and Culture
Organizational identity is one of the most prominent manifestations of identity formed by both
internal and external factors related to being a member of an organization. Six major factors in
three main contexts of corporate, non-profit, and education have been studied in previous
research, which have shown that higher identification is generally correlated with higher
commitment and loyalty. Organization culture is not an easy notion to describe due to ambiguity
Understanding Communication Theory, by Stephen Croucher
© Taylor & Francis 2015
in the notion of culture itself. However, it is mostly understood as the shared constructed
meaning among members of an organization through different forms of narration. Organizational
culture defines the laws and conventions within an organization. The cultural artifacts are
manifestations of organization culture. Organizational culture is interrelated with organizational
identity and mutually constructed.
Organizational Dissent
Organizational dissent is the expression of disagreement or dissatisfaction in an organization. It
can take three forms: articulated (upward), latent (to colleagues), and displaced (outside of
workplace). Organizational dissent has been studied widely in relation to other communication
variables such as argumentativeness and workplace freedom of speech.
Understanding Communication Theory, by Stephen Croucher
© Taylor & Francis 2015
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