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MDSA01H3 (310)
Chapter 2

Chapter 2

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Media Studies
Michael Petit

3. OrganizationalAnalysis Organizations • Collectively, employers and employees comprise organizations: a system (network of ordered relationships and coordinated activities directed toward specific goals ◦ Ex:At a film studio there are writers, producers, directors, editors, make-up artists, sound crews, etc. And they all have their own jobs to perform in order to reach a sole organizational goal. • Paramount, like any other organization, has two basic dimensions: (1) Structure & (2) Process Structure • The underlying framework that shapes an organization over time • Includes 3 key elements: (1) hierarchy, (2) differentiation & specialization, (3) formalization (1) Hierarchy • The specific arrangement of job roles and positions based upon authority within an organization • Some persons or groups have more decision-making power than others within an organization, and thus are central to both the creation and maintenance of a particular corporate culture (2) Differentiation + Specialization • Accounts for the division of companies into units, departments, and positions, each of which perform specific tasks • If these tasks require a unique set of skills/training, the positions are filled by professionals: individuals who possess expertise in a particular area or field that allows them to accomplish the distinctive tasks of their positions ◦ Ex: a book editor is a pro with specialized training and credentials in proofreading and copyediting (3) Formalization • The degree to which specific practices must conform to accepted organizational and professional conventions. Process • If structure represents the underlying framework of an organization, then process reflects the actual substance built upon that framework ◦ Kenneth Burke: “container (structure) and thing contained (process) ◦ Contents within a container are always shaped and constrained by the container ◦ So, while every organizational member, as an individual, engages in unique behaviours and actions (process), such behaviours and actions are always constrained/limited by hierarchy, differentiation & specialization, and formalization (structure) • One way to understand the precise ways that structure and process mutually influence one another is to analyze the communicative practices that occur within organizations and how those practices create and maintain a particular organizational culture Communicative practices • Every organization develops a unique organizational culture: the set(s) of norms and customs, artifacts and events, and values and assumptions that emerge as a consequence of organizational members' communicative practices • 5 ways to study an organization's culture: (1) Performance, (2) Narrative, (3) Textual, (4) management, (5) technology (1) Performance • Expressive (I.e: productive and purposeful) displays (I.e: both process and product) that carry symbolic significance (i.e: meaning and implication) in a particular context. • 4 important types of organizational performance include (a) Ritual, (b) Sociality, ( c) Politics, and (d) Enculturation • (a) Ritual performances: those personal or organizational behaviours that members engage in on a regular or routine basis ◦ Ex of Personal ritual: drinking coffee every morning while checking email. This is a personal ritual because it's not necessitated by a job ◦ Ex of Organizational ritual: attending weekly faculty meetings. Involves routine behaviours that are necessitated by or expected within a specific workplace environment • (b) Sociality: The codes of etiquette that are enacted with regard to friendliness, small talk, joking, and privacy within an organization • ( c) Politics:Are performed differently in every organization and influence the type and degree of independence, negotiating, and coalition building that are acceptable • (d) Enculturation: Those “communicative performances wherein the newcomer learns the social knowledge and skills of the culture.” (2) Narratives • The stories members tell about their workplace experiences are another way to evaluate the endless (re)creation of an organization's culture • Narratives can be classified as (a) Personal, (b) Collegial, or ( c) Corporate • (a) Personal stories are those that convey individual subjective experiences • (b) Collegial stories are those told about other organizational members • ( c) Corporate stories are those told about the organization itself • Each of these story types can function to affirm or discourage certain attitudes and activities within a culture (3) Textual • Examining an organization's culture through texts – written or electronic documents such as company bylaws, policy manuals, procedure handbooks, training manuals, office memos, newsletters, mission statements, reports, etc – it produces • The purpose of formal texts is to explicitly identify what are considered to be acceptable and unacceptable actions and activities within an organization (managerial notes). • Informal texts are those like graffiti, personal employee notes, “private” emails. • Examining the differences and similarities between formal and informal texts is one way of understanding an organization's culture (4) Management • To evaluate an organization's culture through a managerial perspective. This approach concerns how “organizational culture is developed and directed by managers for the purpose of improving operating efficiencies, enhancing the bottom line, or creating satisfied customers.” • This perspective can be used to evaluate the political consequences of managerial practices ◦ Ex: (drawing from Marxist principles) one might examine how specific management structures (I.e the level and flexibility of hierarchy) and practices (I.e hiring, assessment, promotion) influence both the character of products produced and the quality of employee's lives (I.e pay, benefits, respect, voice, support, etc) within a particular organization (5) Technology • IT plays a central role in the contemporary workplace. Scholars examine the ways in which technology structures work activities, as well as “influences organizational members' work roles and work relationships.” ◦ Ex: The quick and easy access to information on wire services has decreased the need for news organizations to produces their own news. This alters a journalists' daily routines (i.e how they gather and package news). • Technology is not so much a tool for doing one's job more effectively or efficiently today, as it is the very environment in which one does their job • *Technology has fundamentally altered the skills required to perform some jobs Conventions • Describe the norms that govern the technical and creative choices made by workers in the execution of their duties, art, or craft ◦ For media workers, conventions influence everything from how one dresses and whom one eats lunch with to the way a news anchor reads news copy and a camera person frames particular shots • If it were not for conventions, workers would confront a virtually infinite array of options in how to carry out their job-related tasks • The characteristics/consequences of conventions: (1) Motivated, (2) Shared, (3) Naturalized, (4) Resilient, (5) Directive (1) Motivated • There is some purpose behind conventions even if that purpose is not immediately self-evident • They develop out of some pragmatic need even if that need is as simple as efficiency or the desire for a sense of community, belonging, and group cohesion. ◦ Ex: you're motivated to follow conventions because they give you a sense of belonging within a group within the organization (2) Shared • For practices to become conventions (to function as norms) they must be internalized by other employees. Conventions are shared. ◦ Ex: if a prof within an academic department uses Powerpoint frequently to lecture doesn't make that practice a convention. Other profs can present course material however they choose to, so using powerpoint is a personal practice, not something one does because one is a prof (3) Naturalized • Conventions are largely invisible. Since they are “the norm,” workers tend to adopt and abide by them unconsciously. • Ex: Students raise raise their hands when they have a question. It's embedded in us to do so and when we're in a classroom and we have a question, we don't think twice about what we have to do to get profs attention. We know that we simply raise our hands because this behaviour is accepted as conventional and normal. Now if we have questions for friends at dinner, we probably won't raise our hands, so the conventions of friendship differ from those of education (4) Resilient • Conventions tend to endure over time due to tradition. “That's just the way we've always done it.” • Even tho conventions are resilient or stable, they are neither fixed nor static.As organizational demands change, so do conventions • Ex: The rise of new conventions partially accounts for why today's news media looks very different than the news media of 40 years ago (5) Directive • Conventions sanction or authorize some practices and behaviours, and discourage or disapprove of others. ◦ In other words, conventions function not as mere suggestions for possible courses of action, but as unspoken guidelines or rules for the correct or appropriate action Professionalization • The existence and operation of professional conventions leads to professionalization: the process by which an individual with free will and choice is transformed (I.e socialized) into an ideological subject (I.e professional) whose behaviours and actions reaffirm one's status as a professional ◦ Basically, it's the internalization of professional conventions as common sense ◦ Ex: Scorcese. The combination of his personal style (process) with his professional training (structure) has le
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