The term lateral communication can be used interchangeably, While retaining the wisdom of the previous editions, this new edition provides leading-edge insights into work culture and globalization. In addition to a new chapter on 'Women in Global Business.
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It is argued that communities communicate and store collective knowledge through lateral communication, and that it is an essential ingredient to make hierarchies work, by compensating for errors in hierarchies' information flows.
Lateral communication is communication between different individuals and, departments, or organisms on the same organizational level.
The term lateral communication can be used interchangeably as horizontal communication. In his text entitled “Organizational Communication,” Michael J. Papa defines horizontal communication as “the flow of messages across functional areas at a given level of an organization” (Papa and Daniels 55). With this system people at the same level are permitted “to communicate directly without going through several levels of organization” (Papa and Daniels 55). Given this elasticity, members within an organization have an easier time with “problem solving, information sharing across different work groups, and task coordination between departments or project teams” (Papa and Daniels 56). The use of lateral or horizontal communication in the workplace “can also enhance morale and afford a means for resolving conflicts (Koehler et al., 1981) (Papa and Daniels 56).
According to research done by John E. Spillan, Mary Mino, and M. Susan Rowles, “lateral communication involves not only the movement of information from the upper levels to the lower levels of the organizational hierarchy but also is defined primarily as the quality of information sharing among peers at similar levels (McClelland and Wilmont, 1990). Specifically, lateral communication occurs among coworkers, during staff meetings and informational presentations, throughout shift changes, and among employees regardless of peer types. In short, lateral communication’s purpose is to keep organizational personnel informed of all current practices, policies, and procedures” (Spillman and Mino 100).
“Communicating effectively laterally involves the exchange of information between and among all organizational members. While we may perceive that organizational information flows vertically or from top to bottom, in reality, information moves laterally. In other words, as information directives are communicated from an upper to a lower position on the hierarchy, peers at each hierarchical level should quickly interpret and communicate these directives between and among peers at similar hierarchical levels. Thus, it is critical for an organization to understand its structure and culture, which are the two major determinants of the quality of lateral communication” (Spillman and Mino 101).
Quality of Lateral Communication: Structure and Culture
Structure 1. Mechanistic Structure “A mechanistic or hierarchical organizational structure emphasizes specialization in position. Examples include healthcare and governmental organizations where information is communicated based on chain of command. This organizational structure type is not conducive to lateral communication and, in fact, discourages it. Since direction and coordination is achieved through upper hierarchical levels, peer information sharing is limited. Overall, a mechanistic structure promotes vertical communication or top down communication with strict alignment and unity of command within the organization” ( Spillman and Mino 101).
2. Organic Organizational Structure “An...
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