Philip Tompkins' Organizational Communicatin Imperatives

Topics: Communication, Organization, Wernher von Braun Pages: 5 (1588 words) Published: October 8, 1999
Philip Tompkins' Organizational Communicatin Imperatives


In the book Organizational Communication Imperatives, by Philip K. Tompkins, we are introduced to a chapter that deals with an organization that is held under high prestige by not only those who are employed by it, but by a country as well. This American organization is NASA, (National Aeronautical Space Administration), and although a very prestigious place to work, it is not free of its share of wrongdoing and counter productive ways. Ten years ago (1986), NASA was faced with its biggest catastrophe, The Challenger Explosion. This preventable event , which claimed the life of a crew of seven, left many questioning the ability of communication throughout NASA. The idea that a crucial element of the space shuttle, O-Rings, would pass inspection, although many scientists doubted the success of these, would be the ultimate cause of the crew's demise shortly after lift off. It seems these scientists' doubts were overlooked by a higher authority who gave the go ahead knowing the risk at stake.

The United States Army, well known for its maintaining of order and conduct, has fallen into a most peculiar and shameful predicament due to lack of communication. The New York Times brought its readers to the attention that all was not right in the military. An organization that shares a similar prestige to that of NASA, an organization who has exemplified its leadership time and time again by becoming a force, so powerful, that it is sometimes considered to police the world, has fallen into a sex abuse scandal. It seems that several women have come forward to proclaim their mistreatment from various acts ranging from rape to verbal harassment instilled upon them by members of the military. These women feel, had there been a genuine form of organizational communication, the study of sending and receiving messages, they would not have fell victims' to such hideous crimes. Senator Barbara Boxer stated (New York Times 11/96) that the complaints made by the women who came forward immediately were lost somewhere along the line in an attempt to reach a higher authority, signifying a need for some type of restructure.


In the minds of many people today the United States Army Is considered to have one of the best structured organizational communication networks. This is based upon the specified code of conduct that the Army is underlyingly ruled by. This is upheld by the specific chain of command which is easily distinguished by rank and uniform. Strict punishment is carried out upon those who violate rules and conduct, commonly accepted by this organization. The authority figures, in the Army, set tasks, and relay a common purpose to all subordinates down to the lowest level in the organization. They also oversee that actions and conduct are carried out in line with the organization ideology.

Luckily for NASA, during Werner Von Braun's tenure at the helm, there were many strengths in this company's organizational communication structure. A more than adequate system of communication was established and overseen by Von Braun that centered upon the theory of upward communication. This theory was designed around the principle, that workers closest to the problem had a large "hand in" the decision making. The term, penetration, was key for this organizations checks and balances. It established extensive contact between contractors and NASA officials at the Marshall Space Flight Center. Von Braun's system of the "Monday Notes," kept communication between each level of this organization at an informed stature This was a two-way direct form of communication where feedback was present in both parties. The high level of redundancy in this organization can be attributed to the success of the Monday Notes in the communication process. NASA's lateral function kept different labs up to date upon each other, and its...
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