Thesis directed by Associate Professor George A. Matter
Organizational communication research has traditionally not been guided by an understanding of what is involved, in principle, in how messages from the collectivity to individual members relate to outcome regularities.
In order to study human communication, as such, a radical shift in approach was made in this research. First, communication was not seen primarily in terms of a specific product, that is, as a message which is deliberately sent by the organization to get information to the members, but rather in terms of what the individual member takes to be the case regarding the policies and practices of the organization. Secondly, no attempt was made to state a body of truths about organizational communication, but rather to formulate a conceptual system.
A conceptual notational device, the paradigm case formulation, was introduced, and a paradigm case formulation of organizational communication to achieve organizational control was introduced. Using this formulation, an understanding of what is involved, in principle, in an organization getting members to act in its interests was achieved. Organizational messages were analyzed in terms of behavioral principles, that is, the reasons people have for doing some things and for not doing others. The phenomenological version of social control was considered to be the set of messages by which members who represent the organization with respect to its values and concerns attempt to motivate members to do the essential tasks for the organization.
From a consideration of the three primary organizational features, i.e., size, diversification and consequent value orientation held by persons occupying different positions in the organization, and resource allocation decisions, a variety of hypotheses was developed about how organizational messages relate to outcome regularities.
Some of the hypotheses were strongly confirmed by the results of the study. The results indicated that from the functioning of the organization, members take it to be the case that some things are valued rather than others and that they will respond in predictable ways.
While some of the hypotheses were not confirmed by the results, those that were supported gave evidence to the predictive applicability of the formulation. With this predictive applicability established, the possibilities for practical application of the formulation--in organizational design, policy formulation, and goal structure--can be explored. [210 pp.]