Role of Effective Communication in the Public Sector

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oring Public Sector Communication Performance: Testing a Model and Drawing Implications Despite its importance to agency effectiveness, communica- tion performance is an understudied topic.This is partly attributable to the “ performance predicament, ” which arises because costs of communication are easier to measurethan its benefits. In this study, we develop and test an exploratory model of public sector communication performance that is synthesized from the literature on public – private differences and organizational communication . This model is statisti- cally significant and explains the variation in interpersonal, external, and internal communication performance. This is perhaps the largest empirical study on public sector commu- nication to date. Our findings have two key implications for public managers. First, the constraints of red tape on communication performance can be overcome if key perfor- mance-enhancing conditions — goal clarity without rigidity and a culture that supports communication — are in place. Second, external communication poses more challenges and may require additional effort. A long-standing assumption within administrative and organization theory is that sound communication leads to sound performance. In his classic work The Functions of the Executive , Chester Barnard pronounced, “ The first executive function is to develop and maintain a system of communication ” (1938, 226). For Barnard, communication is not just an executive function — it is the first, primary function. In another classic, Simon, Smithburg, and Thompson acknowledged the crucial nature of communication to government performance: “ Blockages in the communication system constitute one of the most serious problems in public administration ” (1950, 229). Indeed, similar assertions about the salience of communication have beenmade in diverse literatures, including policy analysis ( Durning and Campbell 1997; Majone 1989; Meltsner 1976 ), innovation ( Lame 1997 ;...
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