American Red Cross - 1

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Abstract

As part of a worldwide movement the American Red Cross offers care and hope to victims of war, poverty and natural disasters, and, as such it is with great anticipation that I will undertake the task of researching from various sources, and presenting its history, philosophy, mission, vision and value statement. Among this, I will briefly describe the culture of the organization, noting whether the organization’s espoused values align with its enacted values. I will also address the extent to which organizational culture is determined by communication or lack thereof and the role communication plays in perception and organizational culture. I will also explain how misalignment between espoused values and enacted values affect perceptions within an organization. Lastly, I will identify the role of conflict in group communication, and explain how the organization might use conflict to improve communication within and among groups.

History and Culture
The American Red Cross owns and continues to build a very long and rich history. Upon its founding in 1881 by Clara Barton who was undoubtedly a visionary leader, the organization quickly became and has remained arguably in my opinion one of, if not America’s most successful emergency responders. Over the years the organization has not only sought to relieve but also to prevent suffering by taking a proactive approach in dealing with a perceived and impending crisis. According to the organization, “prior to the First World War, it introduced its first aid, water safety and public health nursing programs. With the outbreak of war, the organization experienced great growth and recognition resulting in an increase of local chapters from 107 in 1914 to 3,864 in 1918 and realizing an increase in adult membership from 17,000 to more than 20 million as well as 11 million juniors all of whom were made aware of the organization’s tenets or culture of putting people first regardless, but signed on nonetheless, allowing it to staff hospitals and ambulance companies while at the same time providing the military with 20,000 serving nurses that they had recruited, while using others to combat the influenza epidemic of that year”. (Retrieve from http://www.americanredcross.org, 2012, March 15) The organization also experienced solid financial support receiving public contributions of more than “$400 million and operational material”. The success of this non-profit organization is inextricable tied to the generosity of others and is a testament of their goodwill and selflessness which to this day has enabled the American Red Cross to keep fulfilling the mission as set forth in its mission statement, “The American Red Cross prevents and alleviates human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors” (Retrieve from http://www.americanredcross.org, 2012, March 15) Most if not all companies develop and function by certain principles, guidelines and culture or espoused values by which they intend to influence their success and ultimately how their reputation and characters are perceived and the American Red Cross is no different. It would be fair to say that the organization has certainly developed and maintained the culture envisioned by its founder, fearlessly championing and bringing to bare their espoused values such as, “humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence/autonomy, voluntary service, unity and universality” which they are clearly able and will endeavor to maintain. Considering that the organization does not discriminate when carrying out its mission, which it has done effectively for decades, along with the fact that the well being of humanity remains their central theme or focus, it becomes obvious that its espoused values does indeed align with its enacted values which is further augmented as evidenced by its close working relationship with counterparts in many countries like the Salvation Army as well...
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