Business Finance
COM425 Ashford University Formal vs Informal Communication Discussions 1


ashford university

Question Description

These are two separate discussion posts not one paper. Both discussion posts need to be completed. Any references used should be in APA format and cited in the body of the posts as well as a reference section.

Formal vs. Informal communication

Organizational communication can flow in many different directions and can take on various ways of being communicated through formal or informal channels. To illustrate this further, Chapter One, section 1.5 discusses formal and informal channels of communication. Provide an example of formal communication and an example of informal communication. Which type of communication do your prefer in a work environment? Why?

Post should be at least 250 words in length. Support claims with examples from scholarly resources, and properly cite any references.

Putting theory into practice

In Chapter Two, section 2.2 the author discusses four different communication principles. Choose one principle and briefly explain it in your own words. Summarize what the principle is about and share an example from your own life that illustrates it. How do you believe this communication principle can help us understand organizational communication?

Post should be at least 250 words in length. Support claims with examples from scholarly resources, and properly cite any references.


Kreps, G. L. (2011). Communication in organizations [Electronic version]. Retrieved from

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Chapter 1 Introduction to the Process of Organizational Communication Learning Objectives What We Will Be Investigating: • Examine the role of human communication in modern organizational life. • Understand the ways in which effective communication encourages coordination and cooperation with others in organizational life. • Examine the need for strategic organizational communication to achieve important organizational goals. • Recognize the complex and fragile nature of human communication. • Examine the evolutionary nature of organizing. • Understand the hierarchical levels of organizational communication, building from intrapersonal to interpersonal to group to multigroup levels of interaction. • Understand the hierarchy of power in organizations as displayed by the formal organizational chart. • Recognize the differences between formal and informal communication in organizational life, as well as ways in which formal and informal communication systems influence one another. • Examine strategic organizational communication competencies. • Preview the topics covered in the following chapters in the book. Kre66464_01_ch01_p001-028.indd 1 11/3/11 2:40 PM CHAPTER 1 Introduction Chapter Outline 1.1 C  ommunication in Modern Organizational Life 1.2 Organizations and Organizing 1.3 Hierarchical Levels of Organizing Levels of Communication Approach Power Approach Communication works for those who work at it. —John Powell 1.4 I nterdependence and Synergy in Organizational Life 1.5 F ormal and Informal Channels of Organizational Communication Formal Communication: Downward Communication Formal Communication: Upward Communication Formal Communication: Horizontal Communication Informal Communication 1.6 S trategic Communication Processes in Modern Organizational Life The Perceptive Organizational Communicator The Relationally Competent Organizational Communicator The Team-Building Organizational Communicator The Culturally Sensitive Organizational Communicator Strategic Leadership in Organizations Strategic Use of Media and Technologies in Organizational Life Strategic Organizational Development Strategic External Organizational Communication Introduction Human communication is the lifeblood of any organization. Indeed, the interactive social process of communication is what enables organizational participants to elicit cooperation from others. Although eliciting cooperation from others is essential for accomplishing goals, such cooperation does not happen automatically. Each person has unique goals and needs that drive his or her actions. Agreements about goals and needs must often be negotiated. Strategic communication, communication that is carefully planned and competently performed, enables such negotiations and is needed to encourage others to cooperate with us. This book is designed to help you become a strategic organizational communicator—an informed and aware organizational participant who communicates intelligently, sensitively, and competently to accomplish important goals. Kre66464_01_ch01_p001-028.indd 2 11/3/11 2:40 PM Section 1.1 Communication in Modern Organizational Life CHAPTER 1 1.1 Communication in Modern Organizational Life T o be successful in our interactions with others, we must provide clear and compelling information about what we want from them and why it is in their best interest to cooperate with us. We depend on timely, accurate, and effective human communication to accomplish just about all the challenging and important tasks we confront. In fact, it has been observed that there is very little we can accomplish by ourselves in modern organizational life. We all depend on cooperation with others to accomplish our goals, and communication is the critical human process we use to promote such cooperation. To illustrate the role of communication in eliciting cooperation in organizational life, imagine what might happen in a relatively simple situation in which a customer wants to buy a book from a bookseller. How does communication facilitate this relatively straightforward transaction for both the customer and the bookseller? The customer depends on her ability to communicate to the bookseller which book she wants to purchase: • • • • The customer could request the book in person, using face-to-face interpersonal communication. The customer could request the book by phone, using mediated interpersonal communication. The customer could send a written book request to the bookseller, using mediated written interpersonal communication. The customer could also request the book online, using computer-mediated communication. Yet requesting the book is only the first step in the transaction. Perhaps the customer isn’t sure exactly which book she wants to purchase. She might have to engage the bookseller (or others) in conversation to identify the right book for her needs. Even if the customer knows which book she wants, she will likely need to explain to the bookseller how she wants to receive the book. The customer could pick up the book in person, have it sent through the mail, or have it delivered by another shipping service. There are likely to be several shipping options, with different delivery dates and costs, which may also have to be discussed. Does the customer want the book wrapped in gift paper? Does she want it shipped to an address other than her own? The bookseller must also locate the book, determine how much it costs, arrange delivery, collect payment from the customer, record the transaction, and provide change or at least a receipt to the customer. The bookseller may have to order the book from a book distributor, arrange to have the book delivered to the store, and then inform the customer when the book arrives at the store. Communication is likely to be involved in each of these steps as well. As you can see, even in this relatively simple transaction, effective communication is critical. A breakdown in communication at any step in this process will make it difficult, even impossible, for the customer and the bookseller to accomplish their shared goals. In more challenging organizational situations, such as negotiating a corporate merger, communication is likely to be much more complex, fragile, and critical. Participants must be skilled and sensitive communicators to elicit cooperation in challenging situations and Kre66464_01_ch01_p001-028.indd 3 11/3/11 2:40 PM Section 1.2 Organizations and Organizing CHAPTER 1 to work through disparate (sometime diametrically opposed) positions, needs, and expectations to establish common ground and a shared framework for cooperation. Strategic organizational communicators develop the ability to perceptively examine the communication demands of complex situations. Based on their analysis of the situation, they use competent and adaptive communication skills to build cooperative communication relationships with the people with whom they work. This book (and the course it is being used in) is designed to help you analyze the communication demands of complex and challenging organizational situations and to develop strategic communication skills and competencies to respond effectively. Communication is a deceivingly complex and fragile human process. We often assume incorrectly that communication is easy to do well. Although engaging in communication is easy to do (all of us engage in communication all the time), it certainly is not easy to communicate well. There are multiple opportunities in the process of communication for misinterpretations of messages. Think about how often you have misinterpreted messages others have sent to you and how often you have been misinterpreted. In addition, it is not always easy to get others to do what we want them to do. Establishing and maintaining long-term satisfying interpersonal relationships can be a major challenge. Yet as we’ve made clear, the organizing process depends on effective communication. In this chapter and the chapters that follow, we will explore the unique communication demands of organizational life and explore strategies for communicating effectively as an organizational participant. 1.2 Organizations and Organizing W e all live in a complex and multifaceted organizational world, one in which we participate in a wide array of organizations: • • • • • • We may be hired by work organizations, where we pursue jobs and build careers. We may enroll in educational organizations, where we study, learn, and earn academic degrees. We may belong to religious organizations, where we seek and share spiritual support and guidance. We may recreate in social organizations, where we socialize, unwind, and have fun with friends. We may volunteer for service organizations, where we provide our time and efforts to help others. We are most likely members of family organizations, where as fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, and so on we provide mutual support and often help raise children. We are likely to perform many different roles in these organizations, as workers, managers, students, teachers, congregation members, spiritual leaders, organizers, followers, and so on. These roles often change over time, as new organizational needs arise and as our organizational abilities evolve, demanding that we develop different skills and expertise. Likewise, each role we perform demands a different set of communication competencies. Kre66464_01_ch01_p001-028.indd 4 11/3/11 2:40 PM Section 1.2 Organizations and Organizing CHAPTER 1 As you will learn throughout this book, strategic organizational communicators develop appropriate communication skills to effectively perform their different roles and to adapt to new situations. Organizations are not static. Organizations are constantly changing and evolving as the societies in which they reside evolve (Weick, 1979). New organizational needs, new workers, and new products, services, regulations, technologies, and customers constantly force and enable organizing processes to evolve. Sometimes it appears that the common notion we have of an established, solid, and stable organization is merely a stereotype, a convenient way to describe a one-point-in-time view of ongoing organizational processes. The truth is that the organization we see at one point in time is likely not the same organization we see at another point in time. Do you belong to any organizations? How do you use communication skills to effectively perform your role within those organizations? Let’s take an example. Although the bank you use may seem the same every time you visit it, many changes occur within the bank that you just don’t notice. There are likely to be new personnel working at the bank, due to the retirements and relocation of older personnel. Bank policies change, interest rates change, and the technologies that bank workers use are regularly updated. And in recent years we have gone through a period of bank mergers and buyouts, which has dramatically changed the nature of banking. Meanwhile, more banking activities are being handled online than ever before, which is also changing the experience of banking. So, although you might think of your local bank as a solid, permanent, and unchanging organizational entity, the reality is that your bank is in the process of evolution, illustrating the process of organization as much as the state of organization. The true nature of organizational life becomes especially clear when we view dramatic changes such as bankruptcies, mergers, acquisitions, downsizing, leadership transitions, and rapid expansions. As strategic organizational communicators, we must be especially aware of the importance of monitoring changing organizational demands and developing new strategies for addressing these demands through adaptive communication. For example, say you are the chief information officer (CIO) for an accounting firm, and you need to make sure you are aware of new accounting regulations. Changes in the regulatory environment may mean that you must use new accounting processes and forms. You may also need to adhere to new deadlines and formats for submitting financial information. In turn, you may have to purchase new computer equipment, install and update new software, and hire and train personnel to meet the new demands. Changes like this happen regularly in modern organizational life. Strategic organizational communicators gather information to monitor ever-evolving organizational demands and to coordinate with others to adapt processes to meet these demands. Kre66464_01_ch01_p001-028.indd 5 11/3/11 2:40 PM CHAPTER 1 Section 1.3 Hierarchical Levels of Organizing 1.3 Hierarchical Levels of Organizing There are two different ways to view the hierarchical nature of organizational life: 1. The first approach to organizational hierarchy is the levels of communication approach. This hierarchy describes the encompassing communication roles that organizational participants perform in organizing. In this book we will describe the hierarchical levels of intrapersonal, interpersonal, group, multigroup, and interorganizational communication as increasingly more complex levels of organizational communication (Kreps, 1990). 2. The second approach to organizational hierarchy is the power approach (Kreps, 1990). This hierarchy describes the successive levels of formal influence and control that are dictated by the design of the organization. This formal design is often illustrated through organizational charts. Figure 1.1 provides an example of a typical organizational chart. Both the levels-of-communication approach to hierarchy and the power approach to hierarchy perform important roles in organizational life. Let’s look at both in more detail. Figure 1.1: Sample Organizational Chart CEO J. Smith Exec. Secretary Vice President of Marketing J. Gomez Public & Community Relations Department Vice President of Sales T. Lee Product & Services Marketing Department K. Poole Vice President of Production P. Connors Manager Manager Manager Manager Manager Manager L. Jiminez T. Washington Manager W. Allen P. Lloyd Manager Kre66464_01_ch01_p001-028.indd 6 11/3/11 2:40 PM Section 1.3 Hierarchical Levels of Organizing CHAPTER 1 Levels of Communication Approach The levels of communication approach to organizational hierarchy may be best illustrated from the bottom-up. The most basic communication activities of organizing often begin with individual organizational actors who participate in the accomplishment of basic organizational tasks through intrapersonal communication. Intrapersonal communication occurs when communicators interact with themselves to make sense of organizational demands. They do so by attending to and interpreting key messages while also developing strategies to communicate messages to others. These individual organizational participants in turn use interpersonal communication to establish relationships with other organizational participants to accomplish complex organizational tasks. Interpersonal communication is interaction between two different individuals who use communication to establish interpersonal relationships. These relational partners often work together in organizational work groups, where they engage in group communication. In turn, these groups coordinate activities with other work groups, using multigroup or organizational communication, ultimately building to divisions, organizations, and even interorganizational collaborations. Each of the higher levels of organizational communication are built upon the lower levels. Intrapersonal communication is What levels of communication are taking place the foundation upon which interpersonal in this photo? communication is built. For individuals to engage in interpersonal communication, they each must be able to interpret messages into meanings and create messages from meanings using intrapersonal communication. Group communication is composed of multiple interpersonal communication relationships. Similarly, multigroup communication is built upon group interactions. Power Approach The power approach to organizational hierarchy may be best described from the top-down. Executives (presidents, chief executive officers, and board chairs) typically sit at the top of the power hierarchy, as shown in Figure 1.1. These executives direct the activities of upper management personnel (vice presidents, division heads, and others), who direct the activities of middle management personnel (managers, supervisors, group leaders), who in turn direct the activities of main-line workers and support personnel. Formal communication travels both vertically (downward and upward) and horizontally. We will discuss vertical and horizontal formal communication in more detail later in this chapter when we examine channels of communication. Kre66464_01_ch01_p001-028.indd 7 11/3/11 2:40 PM Section 1.4 Interdependence and Synergy In Organizational Life CHAPTER 1 1.4 Interdependence and Synergy In Organizational Life T he basic processes of organizing, in which communication is used to elicit cooperation and coordination, takes place at each of the multiple hierarchical organizational levels. As noted above, it begins with the individual organizational participant (such as an employee). It then moves up to work groups (departments), on to multigroup units (divisions), on to organizations, and even on to groups of connected organizations. At the individual level, each organization member is responsible for accomplishing specific assigned tasks, such as delivering internal mail, maintaining equipment, keeping employment records, selling products, and so forth. This necessitates that individuals demonstrate personal organization and coordination with other organizational participants (such as coworkers, supervisors, customers, and others). These individual tasks are connected to other individual tasks within the organization, combining to help accomplish organizational activities and goals. This connection between activities is referred to as interdependence. The different organizing activities performed within organizations are interdependent—they work together—and the individuals who perform these activities are mutually dependent on one another as well. Even when you are driving your car, you engage in interdependence—you depend on other drivers to follow traffic signals and to stop at stop signs and red lights. These other drivers also depend on you to follow traffic signals. If either of you fail to follow the rules of the road, you are likely to have an accident. Similarly, members of organizations depend on one another to work cooperatively to accomplish important goals. Organizational units are also dependent on the interdependent performance of activities by other organizational units. The more effectively these individuals and organizational units can coordinate the performance of interdependent activities, the more efficient and productive the organizing process becomes. High levels of coordination inevitably lead to enhanced outcomes, a process referred to as organizational synergy. Let’s look a little more closely at interdependence and synergy. In any organization, individuals are typically situated within work groups such as departments, where they must work in concert with other group members. To be effective, these interdependent organizational members must be able to coordinate their activities within these work groups. Communication between these interdependent workers is clearly an essential part of promoting coordinated activities. Different work groups (such as the production department, the shipping department, the accounting department, the sales department, the quality control department, and so on) also must coordinate activities to achieve shared organizational goals. For exam ...
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Formal vs. Informal communication
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Formal vs. Informal Communication
In essence, formal communication involves the passing of messages through predefined
communication channels in an organization. An example of such communication is in the
utilization of reports. For instance, top management can make and distribute reports about the
performance of the subordinates to either communicate the need for improvement or even as a
form of applaud. On the other hand, subordinates typically make reports to communicate their
departmental performance within particular contexts for the top management to consider.
Informal communication is, conversely, the passing of messages in a free manner where
communication streams in all directions. An example of such communic...

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