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Jay Dembro CMN 1103 Paper 1

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Jay Dembro
CMN 1103
Paper #1
7/20/2014
Communication Evolution As we all know, communication is an essential part of all organizations. In the 1940’s, three theorists, Max Weber, Henri Fayol and Frederick Taylor, defined the structure of communication within organizations. Their findings are now known as the classical approaches and, despite advancements in technology, these approaches to communication still hold weight. These three theorists became known for thinking of organizations like a machine. They felt that each worker within a company should have a specialized task to perform which would increase productivity and performance. This is referred to as specialization and is a used by a vast majority of businesses today. On an organizational level, they felt there should be a clearly defined hierarchy, creating a highly structured environment. “Thus, looking at organizations through the lens of a machine metaphor points out the ways in which organizations are specialized, standardized and predictable” (Miller, 18). This new way of thinking about organizations strongly impacted the way people communicated within them. When looking at the communication within organizations via the classical approaches, we need to consider a few elements. First being the content of communication or what should be communication by workers and what shouldn’t. Fayol felt that “employees should focus on the goals of the organization, not on their own individual needs and desires” (Miller, 29). Appropriate topics of communication include task related, innovation-related and maintenance-related communication. These classical theorist viewed communication as only a tool for productivity and deemed all social forms to be improper in the workplace. Due to the highly structured nature of the classical approach, the direction of communication flow is very important. There are a few ways that communication can flow – vertically (up and down), horizontally and free flowing. The classical approach views the vertical movement of communication as the most important. This usually takes the form of orders and task flowing downward; however, it has become popular for management to poll low-level workers.
The channel of communication is also an important part of communication within an organization. “Information can be communicated through face-to-face channels, through written channels, or through a variety of mediated channels, including the telephone or computer” (Miller, 30). This aspect of the classical approach has most likely been the most impacted due to the computer and emails. During their time, the written channel was the most prevalent. But today we see that a large amount of communication is done via emails and the telephone. Modern day communication via email is a blended channel of written and mediated. Lastly, we consider the style of communication as viewed by the classical theorist. Choosing the correct tone was an important aspect of style. This tone would be more formal in nature substituting informal first names with such forms of address as Mr. and Mrs. Nonverbal communication was also deemed important by these theorists. Formal dress was considered a necessity for businessmen and women.
Despite the form of communication changing tremendously since the days of Weber, Favol and Taylor, their principles still hold true. With the advancement of computers and the Internet, employees can communicate across the world in less than a second. This has changed the way organizations are structured allowing employees to work remotely and global businesses to operate without delay. Even though most communication is done via email, I feel that it is still important to consider the classical approaches view of proper content, flow, channel and style. Despite these beliefs, it appears that communication in the modern day workplace does not follow the classical approach as closely as it had. Informal communication has become the norm with people texting their superiors and short form writing and abbreviations becoming the norm. The way we communicate will continue to evolve but I feel we must not forget the structure and form developed by the classical theorist.

Works Cited

Miller, Katherine. Organizational Communication: Approaches and Processes. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishers, 2009. Print.

Cited: Miller, Katherine. Organizational Communication: Approaches and Processes. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishers, 2009. Print.

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