Communication, Information and Coordination in Organizations
In speaking of organizations I believe that how organizations communicate is an extremely key factor in success versus failure. The purpose of this paper is to talk about Communication, Information and Coordination, specifically Vertical and Lateral Coordination in organizations. I will reference the four different organizational frames we have learned about as a reference guide to explain how communication is viewed, as well as which types of organizations are best suited to use either a Vertical or Lateral Coordination methodology.
When we began the term we laid down a foundation on the different types of frames that an organization can take on. I would like to briefly touch on the four frames and then show how communication is defined in each.
The first frame is the Structural Frame, which, “…emphasizes goals, specialized roles, and formal relationships…” (Bolman and Deal p. 14) In this frame the organization ultimately uses “…rules, policies, procedures and hierarchies to coordinate diverse activities into a unified strategy.”(Bolman and Deal p. 14) As you can see with the definition above, communication is being done through a system of symbols, signs and or behavior. The organization creates the method for information to be passed and there is an expectation that it will be followed. In the structural frame communication is used to, “Transmit facts and information.” (Bolman and Deal p.307) You as an employee are simply taking information from the organization and using it accordingly as well as taking information you receive and passing it along. You as an individual are not analyzing the information, drawing any conclusions altering it, You are simply taking the information given to you and acting on it as given.
The second frame is the Human Resource Frame. The Human Resource frame sees the organization, “…much like an extended family, made up of individuals with needs, feelings, prejudices, skills and limitations…”(Bolman and Deal p. 14) In this frame the organization is made to fit the individuals that work there. The Human Resource Frame uses communication to “Exchange information, needs and feelings.” (Bolman and Deal p.307) The Human Resource Frame uses the individual as a conduit for information gathering and dispersal and is much more flexible in the delivery of information as opposed to the Structural Frame, which is more rigidly aligned. People are the most valued asset of an organization. The Human Resource Frame seeks to develop the individual employee in the organization rather than making them one step is a core process.
The third frame is the Political Frame and sees organizations as “…arenas, contests, or jungles…”(Bolman and Deal p. 14) In the Political Frame all people in the organization are in constant competition to get ahead and one way to get ahead is to possess the power of information. In the Political Frame it is who and what you know and who you are willing to share your information with that gets you ahead. With all of the competition involved there is often conflict between those vying for power. The Political Frame sees communication as an opportunity to, “Influence or manipulate others.” (Bolman and Deal p.307) As stated previously, Information if a powerful tool. In a Political Frame possessing information and having the ability to communicate that formation is key. The problem with Politics is that often information is used destructively rather than constructively. In an organization influencing and manipulating can and usually is a double edged sword.
Finally in the fourth frame is the Symbolic Frame is a more organic frame that is seen organizationally as, “Tribes, theaters, or carnivals. It abandons assumptions of rationality more prominent in other frames.” (Bolman and Deal p. 15) This frame is not widely used because it is so free flowing and actually quite odd that it does not work well...
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