Culture and Background
The United States is one of the world’s greatest democracies, with a government established “of the people, by the people, for the people.” The U.S. is a low-context culture, which places a high value on equality, fairness, independence, taking initiative, working hard, and being direct, open and honest (Kohls, 1988). An employee of the United States Federal Government is a “civil servant” and it is his or her job to uphold the U.S. laws. Effective communication is integral to achieving this goal. To begin with, one must understand the overall structure of the organization. I will use the Department of Homeland Security here as an example. The Department is headed by the Secretary, which is a cabinet-level position within the executive branch. The Secretary reports directly to the President of the United States. Within the Department, there are many different offices and agencies, which are all lead by appointed officials. See the below DHS organizational chart for reference.
STRATEGIC COMMUNICATION PLAN 3
Within an office or agency, an employee will work for a particular sub-component, such as a “Directorate.” Some of the sub-components are divided into geographical jurisdictions and they have varying managerial structures within the organization.
As Varner & Beamer (2011) point out, “power distance in the United States is comparatively small. That means, true to a democratic society, Americans are less accepting of inequalities in power than are people from cultures with high power distance” (p. 258). Despite the very intricate hierarchical management structure within U.S. Government agencies, the culture is very informal. Employees address each other by their first names, including their supervisors and managers. Employees at different levels interact openly and freely. Each agency within the Government has its own labor union. If... [continues]
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