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Communication Studies
COMN 4115
Dalton Kehoe

Organizational Communication Lecture – November 22 , 2013 nd Communication Barriers in Organization General Barriers to Communication (Structural) 1. Loss or distortion of information (Serial – Rule in communication that as a message is passed along is becomes distorted.) a. Human beings pay attention to what’s most important to them b. You pass your construction of the message along c. Content and interpretation of the message d. Particular in machine and divisionalized bureaucracies 2. Failure to Consult a. In top-down organizations, one of the weaknesses In a position of authority is that you don’t have to talk to people below you 3. Task Specialization a. Necessary if you need to run a large organization b. You do something for a very long time, you create pathways in your brain that don’t relate to other people c. In the process of repeating the same act, our brains create pathways d. Division of labour for efficiency – by function, by task – in machine and divisionalized bureaucracies but certainly in professional bureaucracies. 4. Status, Power and Authority differences a. The more authority and power, the less you seem to have to listen to anybody else b. Power corrupts your ability to pay attention to anything you don’t think you need to c. All forms of bureaucracy (Except adhocracy) – hierarchy, delegation of authority 5. Geographic Factors a. In large machine and divisionalized bureaucracies Organizational Barriers to Communication Flow Vertical 1. One-way communication a. No feedback b. People giving the message downward don’t really care for the feedback from the bottom up 2. Differences in values and perception 3. Mistrust a. Workers become unionized 4. Psychic conflicts of leadership a. Supposed to have an egalitarian leadership b. Some behave as tyrants c. Struggle between commanding people and encouraging them Barriers to Upward Communication 1. Attitudes of subordinates a. Withhold info – power b. Promotion means hide problems c. Mistrust of boss 2. Attitudes and actions of the superior a. Open vs. defensive b. Assumed knowledge of subordinates 3. Characteristics of the organization a. Levels of hierarchy b. Physical distance Barriers to Lateral Communication  Increased specialization o Don’t see the world the same way  Lack of management recognition and reward o Have to reward lateral communication. Improve rewards for doing it  Suppression of differences – fear of open conflict
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