A COM 378 Lecture Notes - Lecture 1: Legal Personality, Organizational Communication

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26 Apr 2016
The Communication Imperative
Perspectives on Corporate Communication:
Marketing Communication
oEmphasizes on Media Relations
Financial Communication
oEmphasizes Investor Relations
Organizational Communication
oEmphasizes Government & supplier relations
Management Communication
oEmphasizes Employee Relations
The Corporate Soul:
Santa Clara County v. Souther Pacific Railroad (1886)
oSupreme Court reasoned under the 14th amendment that corporations had the legal
status of a “person” – Separate legal entity
Corporation was viewed as a natural entity, a rights-bearing person, not a creation of the state
(as it once was).
oThe corporation achieved legal legitimacy, but it did not have moral or social legitimacy
From 1890s-1940s, the public believed the corporation had “no soul”
Problems of Soullessness:
Perceived lack of conscience
oEconomic logic defined a push to efficiency and profits
oNo individual to appeal to for moral reason
oFuelled by popular stories of corruption and political manipulation
Impersonal size
oColdness & aloofness of a giant business corporation
oPersonal relationships with face-to-face contact no longer always possible
oCould not have direct contact with or among employees
Lack of distinct personality
Problem of size and abstractness
Faceless trust
Lack of employee morale revealed a lack of vitality and animating purpose
Intense secrecy, guarded autonomy
Problem for Corporate Communication:
The problem evoked in the phrase “soulless corporation” was:
oHow were Americans to understand the relationship of commercial leviathans to the
family, the church, the local community, the nation?
Corporate Fables provided an answer
Corporate Fables:
Corporate fables portrayed:
oAn efficient and benevolent giant, always attentive to the welfare of the tiniest entity
oA discovery of a grand mission amid humble surroundings of the founder’s tiny shop
oOr, a shop where skill & loyalty of its workers was fostered
oBeing infused with the “service ideal”
oContinued commitment to educational and cultural activities, even during hard times
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