Organizational Communication

Our group assignment was to research all the different models of Organizational Communication. We are group number 3 and the members are Steve, Jason, Elise, Heather, Mike and Danny. As a group we each took one model found under this topic and did our own research. After, completing each of our individuals assignment, we gathered all the information together to form this paper.

 Table of Contents

Introduction to Organizational Communication

Networks: Heather

Weber's Theory of Bureaucracy: Elise

Likert's Four Systems: Jason

Tompkins & Cheney's Organizational Identification: Steve

Weick's Process of Organizing: Mike

Structuration in Organization: Mike

Hersey and Blanchard's Tridimensional Leadership Effectiveness Model


References Page




Networks refers to how information is formed and shared in an organization. How an organization should communicate is not always how the communication takes place. Persuasion, information, and knowledge do not always start from the top down because of personal relationships that are formed within the organization (Wilson 99).

Theories and Information

Peter Monge and Eric Eisenberg's theory is broken up in three traditions: position, relational, and cultural. Position is how the organization is set up. For example, the president, professors, and the students at Fresno State have a top to bottom relationship. Relational tradition deals with how relationships begin, change, and shape the organization. The third, cultural traditions, explains how the members of the organization design the organization through stories, rituals, and task work (Littlejohn 303).

The organization consists of at least two or more people with interdependence, input, throughput, and output according to Peter Monge, Eric Eisenberg, and Richard Farace (Littlejohn 303). Information is divided into two parts, absolute information, which refers to all that is known, and distributed information, which is who knows this information. Many organizations fail to understand who should know which piece of the information and how to obtain the information.

There are three main parts of a network. The level of analysis is scope. Function is the information collected, dispersed and exchanged (Wilson 98). The third, structure, illustrates how the information flows through the organization (Littlejohn 304).

Load and underload explain the amount of work flow at a given time. Dyad's are the rules of operation in an organization. Symmetry is the level that a couple communicates. The frequency of interaction is strength. The third, reciprocity, is the level of the number of the group that agrees on how much they communicate with each other. Content is the interaction of communication. Finally, mode is the manner in which communication takes place, including face-to-face, written communication, or other forms.

Network researchers define a group by four criteria: (1) More than half of the members' communication is within the group; (2) each person must be linked with all others in the group; (3) the group will not break apart with the exit of one person or the destruction of one link; (4) the group must have at least three members (Littlejohn 305).

In an organization network roles are formed. A liaison works between two groups but is not a member of either. A member of one group that links to another is called a bridge. An isolate is alone (Wilson 99 and 100).

Organization networks are also characterized by the size of the group; centrality, or how much access they have with one another; and density which is the difference between actual links and how many links are possible.

Karlene Roberts and Charles O'Reilly in their study asked employees several questions about who they go to for technical advice, and who is in their social network. The study was done when the squadron was new, and then again, one year later. Five hundred people answered the first time and 700 the second. The number of isolates went up the second time. At first, there were 62 liaisons and 84 bridges in the expertise network, and 3 of each in the authority network. In the second testing, the number of liaisons and bridges rose in both networks (Littlejohn 307).

Conclusion on Networks Theory

Networks function much differently than drawn on paper. Through the application of communication theories these complex units have been discovered. Organizations are constantly adapting and changing. An organization which looses this capacity will slowly fail.

Weber's Theory of Bureaucracy


Every good organization has good communication. It's literally impossible to run a business effectively without communication. The better the communication the better the organization. For example I once worked at Service Merchandise. The managers rarely asked the employees for input or advise and often lost respect due to lack of knowledge. Unfortunately due to the questionable managers qualifications simple producers took twice as long. Along with inefficient productivity, the employees were not satisfied at their jobs which made long term employment nonexistent.

First, "Weber sees bureaucracy as the most efficient pattern for mass administration." (308) To Weber, this form of government is very efficient for organization. It shows legitimate power. Managers do not just become managers overnight, there is a considerable amount of training they must go through.

Second, a bureaucracies are based on competence in which there is a division of labor. Often labor is divided unevenly which creates friction in the work place and brings a halt to productivity. With a more reasonable distribution of labor and competent managers, the work place becomes much more pleasant.

Third, hierarchy is the essence of a bureaucracy. A chain of command works well when there is a problem. If their immediate supervisor is not helping there is someone else to help.

Fourth, supervisors are appointed due to their knowledge and training. Luckily the bosses daughters can not just come in and start bossing everyone around, unless she ahs been trained to do so, this ensures an efficient work place.

Fifth, "The members must not share in the ownership of the organization." This explains my previous statement, there tends to be hostility towards this type of situation, it is best to avoid it.

Sixth, "They must be free to allocate resources within their realms of influence without fear of outside infringement."

Seventh, they should maintain accurate records. All of these procedures can help improve any work environment if need be.

Unfortunately, there is one minor problem. In it's effort to increase productivity it has neglected communication. It is not seen as important in that it is a down fall. Even though it is called a communication theory, in actuality it is not.

The Spaghetti Factory restaurant is a perfect example of this theory. The managers are trained, not promoted. They have substantial knowledge but rarely ask for input from the servers. It is a wonderful place to work due to the well staffed organization but they could use a little work on their communication.

 Likert's Four Systems


Running a business today is no easy task. People are always looking for an edge to increase productivity among the workers. A man by the name of Rensis Likert who

was interested in this productivity secret took on human relations from a production, management oriented perspective. Human relations theories focus on the workers, their feelings and needs. These theories teach that if you care for and attend to the needs of workers than the organizations operations will improve. According to Littlejohn, Likerts theory is "perhaps the most detailed theory of human communication." (1996, p.308)

Likert claimed that an organization can function at any point along a continuum of four systems. The first type that operates at one extreme of the continuum is the Exploitative Authoritative System. Under this system the executive operates under an iron hand and designs are made by the boss, with no use of feedback (Littlejohn, 1996).

The second system is called the Benevolent Authoritative Leadership system. Under this type of operation, the manager is sensitive to the needs of the workers.

The third system is referred to as the Consultative System, in which authority figures maintain the control but seeks advice and consultation from below.

Finally, the fourth system is the Participation Management System. This allows the workers to be full involved in the decision making process.

For Likert, system four is clearly the best because it provides an increased sense of responsibly and motivation which leads to higher performance. If the management becomes to authoritative then there is less group loyalty, more conflict and consequently less mutual support.(Littlejohn). All of these things lead to the obvious, lower sales, higher costs and lower earnings. Under system four however, higher sales and lower costs with a greater senesce of camaraderie will be attained.

The role of communication in Likert's is that if an intervening variable. Exploitative management does not put much emphasis on communication other than to express its desires clearly and forcefully to the workers. Little to no upward communication goes on. As a result supervisors and subordinates are not very close and have little understanding among them. Participate management on retrospect includes strong upline and downline communication which results in accurate understanding between the subordinates and supervisors with close relationships resulting.(Littlejohn)

Likert's theories have been critiqued for being simplistic and mechanistic, but in observations of business, exploitative systems have negative results whereas partcipative ones had much more positive ones. Clearly there is a benefit to the business when the workers feels like they have a voice. It is this function of formal communication in a organization that elicits cooperation and higher productive on the part of the employees.

 Organizing Identification


This theory was developed by Tompkins and Cheney. This theory combines multiple theories.

Tompkins and Cheney break down there theory into four categories. They are; simple control, techical control, bureaucratic control and concertive control. Let us begin with Simple Control. Simple control is, "the use of direct open power." (Littlejohn) This form of control is very similar to Likert's first management system.

Technical Control is, "the use of machinery." (Littlejohn) An example would be all the high tech equipment used in business today. Computers, Printers, Scanners, etc.

Bureaucratic involves the organizational producers and formal rules.(Littlejohn). Every employee must be completely familiar with a manual.

The fourth Tompkins and Cheney really like. Concertive Control is the use of interpersonal communication and teamwork.(Littlejohn)


Weick: Process of Organizing


When groups of people form, communication is the principle agent in the process of organizing. Within this theoretical area of communication is a theory by Carl Weick entitled the "Process of Organizing". This theory helps explain the relational obstacles group members face and provides a model of how these obstacles can be overcome.

The focus of this theory is on groups using communication to facilitate clearer organization. The scope of this theory is broad because it could apply to any group or organization looking for a more efficient structure. This theory focuses on the relational dimension of organization.

To understand this theory we must understand the important concepts and principles within the theory presented by Weick, (Littlejohn, 315). First, the theory is concerned with the "effect of mutual interaction between people", and less with the actual lines of communication. He believes that "organizations" are not structures comprised of positions and roles; Rather organizations result from a continuing process of communication.

This is explained with his definition of organizing activities:

Furthermore, Weick explains that all information within an organization is equivocal or ambiguous to some degree. Organizing activities are used to achieve common meanings between group members in order to reduce this uncertainty.

Weick also believes that this organizing process relies on a series of three major processes:

A description of organizational communication is useful. Rogers and Agarwala (Trenholm, 23), describe an organization as a, "stable system of individuals who work together to achieve, through a hierarchy of ranks and division of labor, common goals." While the hierarchy of ranks and roles may not be necessary, the definition does support Weick's theory in that communication is used to reduce uncertainty or equivocality and help form basic premise of the organization and its goals.

This theory helps to reduce uncertainty about the process of reducing equivocality among a group and its members. This leads to an assembly of rules which guides individual choice of routines to accomplish a common goal of the organization.


Tompkins and Cheney: Organizational Identification


This discussion on communication theory, labeled "Organizational Identification," is developed by Tompkins and Cheney. They were interested in the theoretical area regarding communication in organizations; specifically their interest is in how organizations are developed and established through communication. This theory was developed based on another heuristic theory in this area. This means that another provocative theory in this specific area led to the development of this one.

The "Scope" of this theory is extremely broad. If you actually counted how many organizations you belong to you'd probably be surprised. This theory applies to virtually every type of organization. From family to career to religion.

Being that the scope is so broad, it is an important communication theory because it affects all of us. Another reason for this theory's importance is that it is highly testable, It has a high degree of verifiability (empiricism) and corrigibility (susceptible to change). Both are two key elements with regard to the existence of a theory.

With this in mind I would like to discuss the specific concepts and principles presented by Tompkins and Cheney in their theory of "Organizational Identification", (Littlejohn, 314).

It begins by presenting four ways control is exerted within an organization:

(1) Simple control: this is described as the use of direct, open power. It is and exploitative-authoritative system of management.

(2) Technical control: involves the use of machinery which limits what an employee can do and how they can do it.

(3) Bureaucratic control: is the use of organizational procedures and rules. It employs the use of written policies of the organization in the form of memos and reports.

(4) Conceptive control: employs the use of interpersonal relationships and teamwork to create a shared reality relating to the values of the organization.

Concertive control is the focus of this theory. It moves away from a perspective of an authoritative control structure within organizations, and toward a more subtle and complex structure. It also replaces explicit rules of an organizations operation with an implicit set based on a common understanding and deep appreciation of the organizations "mission" or goal. Labeled "Unobtrusive control," this theory explains how decision making among members of an organization is reasoned deductively from general premises of the organization. Control is managed through these premises. Once members accept, through communication, certain premises their decision-making is controlled. They are in turn given more decision-making power because control is already in place. This "identification" with the organizations general premises of operation is the main point of the theory.

This idea of identification is based on a prior theory of communication developed by Kenneth Burke, (Littlejohn, ch.8).

His theory outlines three overlapping sources of "identification:

(1) Material: deals with material possessions, owning the same things.

(2) Idealistic: shared ideas, attitudes, feelings and values.

(3) Formal: organization of an event in which both parties (member and advocate of the organization) participate.

His major premise within this theory is that communication is successful when identification is greater than division. In other words the more identification with the organization leads to more organized decision-making within the organization. Decisions become more consistent with the organizations "mission".

Another relating theory is presented by Fishbein and Ajzen, (Trenholm,148). Cognitive Response Theory explains how desired outcomes are controlled through the communication process. They claim that "behavior intentions" are an important mediator between attitudes and actions. Or actions result from behavior intentions. An attitude toward a certain action is a function of the sum of an individuals beliefs about that action.

Therefore the clearer an organizations premises toward outcome achievement are the less direct control is necessary within the operation of that organization. Individuals are allowed to exercise more of their own judgment in day-to-day decision making, assuming that they are operating under the organizations basic premises.


Hersey-Blanchard Tridimensional Leader Effectiveness Model


Upon looking at Situational Leadership Models, there were a numerous intricate and frustrating ones. Once I glanced over the Hersey-Blanchard Model it became very apparent how understandable and applicable these models can become. The interest peaked at my arrival to this model since I can recall all the times as a subordinate in an organization I asked, "What the heck are they doing that for?", or thought, "I could do such a better job!" So I had to wait until my turn to realize how tough it is to lead and how frustrating it can get with no matter what I tried it just didn’t seemed to "click"! Well upon researching the Hersey-Blanchard Model it became much clearer to me why things just didn’t seem to "click" and gave me some very applicable ways to understand how to improve on that, which I hope to share with you.

In order to begin explaining the Hersey-Blanchard Tridimensional Leader Effectiveness Model we have to understand two main criteria. Those criteria or key aspects are task behavior and relationship behavior. To define task behavior would be to say "it is the extent to which leaders are likely to organize and define the roles of the members of their group (followers) and to explain what activities each is to do and when, where, and how tasks are to be accomplished; characterized by endeavoring to establish well defined patterns of organization, channels of communication, and ways of getting jobs accomplished." Relationship behavior on the other hand is "the extent to which leaders are likely to maintain personal relationships between themselves and members of their group (followers) by opening up channels of communication, providing socioemotional support, active listening, psychological strokes, and facilitating behaviors. In order to understand a person’s leadership style there must be a combination of task and relationship behavior.

Using the task and relationship behaviors we then receive 4 Basic Leader Behavior Quadrants which are high task/low relationship, high task/high relationship, low task/high relationship, and low task/low relationship. These 4 quadrants display essentially 4 different leadership styles as perceived by others, that a person exhibits when attempting to influence the activities of those others. These behavior patterns are therefore not self-perception but other-perception.

Now that we understand task and relationship behavior as well as the 4 basic leader behavior quadrants, we can add the effectiveness dimension. The first to add an effectiveness dimension was William J. Reddin in his "3-D Management Style Theory". He states that a useful theoretical model "must allow that a variety of styles may be effective or ineffective depending on the situation". Hersey-Blanchard gives a lot of credit to Reddin for his effectiveness dimension. In their Tridimensional model it shows that the effectiveness of leaders depends on how appropriate their leadership style is to the situation in which they operate. The added effectiveness dimension also attempts to integrate the concepts of leader style with situation demands of a specific environment. So where the style is appropriate to a given situation it will be deemed effective, and where it is not appropriate it will be concluded ineffective. Taking into consideration the situation also displays that any style may be effective depending on the given situation. That way the effectiveness is not necessarily dependent on the leader, but the appropriateness of the style to the given situation. The third element involved in this is the environment, which will effect the degree of effectiveness. Therefore, the interaction of the basic styles with the environment results in a degree of effectiveness or ineffectiveness. The Hersey-Blanchard Tridimensional Leader Effectiveness Model basically states that there is no best style of leadership, but only what is deemed best for that specific given situation.

The last ingredient that must be added is the level of maturity of those the leader is trying to influence. This is added at the bottom of the 2-D model and is used to determine which style is best for the level of maturity, whether highly skilled and needing supervision or not these persons are. So with this maturity spectrum in place it places 4 major points, one in each of the 4 quadrants in the task and relationship behavior style of leadership that can be used to determine what is best for that given situation and involving those specific personnel.

Although this model cannot be perfectly accurate in depicting which style is best, considering individual situations and personnel involved, it does do a tremendous job of giving research and wisdom for those looking to best find a leadership style that works for their situation. So I feel that now that we hopefully better understand both our leader and subordinate perspectives with the help of the Hersy-Blanchard Tridimensional Leader Effectiveness Model, and that we would have more artillery on how to make things "click" for our own present and future organizational situations.


Littlejohn, Stephen W. (1996). Theories Of Human Communication. 5th ed. Belmont: Wadsworth Publishing Company.

Trenholm, Sarah. (1991). Human Communication Theory. 2nd edition. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall.

Wilson, Gerald L., Goodall, H. Lloyd Jr., & Waagen, Christopher L. (1986). Organizational Communication. New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc.