Communication and the Media
Communication refers to the passage of information through a medium and receiving a feedback. Communication can take place at an individual or a group level. It is the latter that this paper is concerned with. Several theories have been developed in the study of communication behaviors within an organization and their importance to the general success of the group. Some of these theories include the organization culture theory and the organization information theory. The former theory advances the opinion that political, social, behavioral, and enculturatio performances are key to the building of a culture within an organization, while the latter advances the view that uncertainties in the collection and interpretation of information in an organization are responsible for the failure of these entities. The paper, therefore, discusses the differences and similarities between the two theories and why they are both valid communication theories.
The differences between the organization culture theory and the organization information theory
Differences in their general scope
While the organization culture theory and the organization information theory are both theories of communication related to groups, they have more differences than similarities. The organizational culture theory, for example, is a theory that tries to study the life within a particular organization (West and Turner 287). The theory affirms that the life of an organization or a group is based upon the culture which it creates. What binds the company or organization members together is the culture that has been created between them, either in terms of the rules and regulations or the performance. The culture further guides the mode of communication within the group (Bowditch et al. 22). Hence, the realities of each member of the group are shared through the culture of the organization. These realities actually reflect the shared values of the organization, which are dictated by the culture of the organization (West and Turner 290). It is then that the values created as part of a culture of an organization give an identity to that organization, which differentiates it from other organizations. On the other hand, the organization information theory is majorly concerned with how information is exchanged among members, or between a management and workers. It is majorly concerned with the effectiveness of communication through the eradication of ambiguities (West and Turner 303). In this theory, the study of the behaviors of the members is not important. but the manner in which the information in the organization is passed is what is of significance (West and Turner 303). Just like in the group culture theory, however, the success of the organization is reliant on the manner in which information is relayed. There is some information in the organization which, when undisclosed, ruins the successful prospects of an organization. Therefore, the company must develop ways of ensuring that the information is relayed in the most appropriate manner possible.
Differences in concepts
The two theories further differ in the presentation of their concepts. For example, the organization culture theory takes into account the symbols of an organization, such as behavioral, verbal, and physical symbols of communication. Some of the kinds of the verbal symbols noted as parts of the cultural organization of the company include the history of a company, the famous jokes amongst members, the created nicknames unique to the members of an organization, the stories, and the jargons (Bowditch et al. 22). Generally, anything shared between the members by word of mouth within the organization contributes to the culture for an organization. Second, the behavioral symbols of an organization touch on the customs, traditions, and ceremonies of a company, as well as the punishments, rewards, and rituals performed in an organization (West and Turner 296). When all these elements are put together, they form the behavioral culture of an organization. Last, the physical symbols are reflected in all the visible forms that make a group different from other groups. One of such symbols is the buildings, the décor, the logo, and the designs of an organization. Any physical structure that is unique to a particular organization communicates a particular message to outside audiences pertaining to the image of an organization. On the other hand, the cultural information theory, takes into consideration the living systems metaphor (Kotter 53). Through this metaphor, the organization is supposed to depict the essence of information and the manner in which to handle it for success. The living metaphor systems try to equate an organization to a body of a living creature. For example, for a living thing to exist, it must have several systems, ranging from the skeletal, the breathing, the nervous, the blood circulatory, and the digestion system. All these systems are expected to function harmoniously for the survival of the whole body. Should one of the systems fail to properly function, the whole body would feel some form of weakness and be unable to carry out its functions appropriately. In the same manner, an organization has several departments, and systems which are all coordinated through by spreading information to attain success and be sustainable
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Differences in ethnography
Another difference is that, while both theories take into account ethnography, the manner in which the study is done is different. Ethnography refers to the wide learning of the human nature (Kotter 52). Therefore, the nature of human beings can only be uncovered through the examination and interpretation of various performances by members of the group being studied. The things that the workers of an organization do on a daily basis are what represent the personal rituals of an organization as aspect of ethnography (Shafritz et al. 45). The particular kinds of jobs assigned to various employees always refer to the task rituals and count towards the study of ethnography. Another kind of rituals performed in an organization are referred to as social rituals. They entail the study of the daily relations between organization members (West and Turner 296). The schedules and routines of a group also count as a part of ethnography that entail a detailed examination of the daily routines utilized by the group. These elements are more important to the organizational culture theory.
Differences in assumptions
Further, the theories also differ in their assumptions. For example, the organizational information theory bears the following assumptions. The first assumption is created on the basis that the existence of an organization is not possible without information (West and Turner 308). To this extend, the organization receives information through many channels due to the advancements in technology. Some of these sources include the telephone, the Internet, and mobile phones. Therefore, information in organizations spreads rapidly. An organization is expected to ensure that it is up to date with current information and manages it properly. Otherwise, it will perish. Second, the theory assumes that the information received by an organization often differs in an equivocal way (West and Turner 308). This means that the manner of receiving and interpreting information amongst the members of an organization differs accordingly. Hence, it may not be possible for the members of a group to interpret the information in the same manner (Kotter 46). The third assumption proposes that, in order to ensure that the unequivocality of the information is eradicated, an organization is supposed to engage in a continuous process of data processing (West and Turner 315). On the other hand, the organization culture theory assumes that the values, beliefs, and traditions exist within the organization and shape the culture of an organization (West and Turner 291). To this extent, communication and interactions between members bear a great role. The assumptions are based on the work politics, social behaviors, inculturation, etc. (West and Turner 292). Additionally, politics plays a big role in the ethnography of a group. Under the cultural theory, it entails an examination of the political behaviors of the group members, which is used to adjudge the controls and the power deals concerning the group (West and Turner 298). Another way in which ethnography plays a role in an organization is through passion performances (West and Turner 298). This refers to the funny talks, chats, and stories that members of an organization express freely without any controls from the organization. Another study sates that the social performance that is majorly concerned with the examination of the conducts of the affiliates of the group points to the fact that there is politeness and cooperation in the group (West and Turner 298). An organization further struggles to build a name for itself, and all the members of the organization are expected to abide by it. In this connection, the value attached to the organization can be depicted through the members in what is referred to as the inculturation performance (West and Turner 299).
Differences in the use of Darwinian concepts
Lastly, the evolution theory by Charles Darwin is used to explain the organization information theory, but not the organization culture theory. The social cultural evolution theory explains the manner in which an organization is supposed to collect information. The management of the same collected information is also key to the theory. Since, according to Charles Darwin, only the toughest species tend to survive, so does the toughest organizations during the era of rapid information changes (West and Turner 307). For example, an institution may encounter both good and bad information, but how an organization moves after receiving the information is what differentiates between a tough organization and one that is not tough. Whenever bad information strikes an organization, the organization must respond by changing its systems to become valid. Organizations that do not react to information in the most appropriate manner possible end up perishing and cannot be said to be sustainable.
Similarities between the organizational culture theory and the organizational information theory
There are very few similarities between the two theories, as opposed to differences. One of the similarities is that both theories are applicable in all the setups that require the communication of human beings. One of the environments in which both theories have a similar application is organizations (Leidner and Kayworth 15). In the organization culture theory, the culture of an organization is shaped by communication related performances. On the other hand, in the organization communication theory, communication is the foundation of every group or organization. It means that even though the two theories aim at studying different behaviors, they both share communication as a common factor.
Second, the two theories have the same effect of maintaining group or organization sustainability as their ultimate goad. The organization information theory is motivated by the desire to aid organizations in depicting the importance of communication changes and processing to be able to remain relevant (Leidner and Kayworth 15). The organizational culture theory, on the other hand, is motivated by the desire to educate an organization or group about the importance of communication in creating a strong culture for sustainability. The two theories also have a similarity of application to communication of groups as opposed to individual communications.
Last, the two theories hold the assumption that the ambiguities in communication within an organization are the root cause of its failure. According to the cultural information theory, the creation of a bad culture is based on the dissemination of wrong information within an organization (Shafritz et al. 44). The end result is a bad culture, which ruins the organization. The organizational information theory adheres to the same principles. It argues that the root cause of the failure of an organization is based on the different interpretations given to information. Thus, the study aims at eradicating the uncertainties.
Validity of both theories of communication
The two theories are both valid theories of communication due to several reasons. First, the validity of a theory is based on a particular thought or plan which assists in depicting a certain kind of behavior within an organization. As it regards communication among people, the organizational cultural theory presents a view that for one to understand why the culture of an organization is one way or another, a keen look at the communication patterns and performances within an organization must be taken. The theory further expresses the thought that, in the minds of every member in group, even insignificant conversations and interactions, whether by word of mouth, through symbols, through writing or even structures, count towards a culture of an organization (Jones 61). On the other hand, the organization information theory sparks a thought in the minds of the members of a group that in any group or organization the basis is information. Therefore, the theory is concerned with laying the structures of how information can be controlled and disseminated in an organization, while at the same time reacting to the changes in the information systems to keep an organization running. Thus, the idea is communication related.
A valid theory is also based on a logical flow of assumptions, concepts, and generalizations. The two theories meet this threshold. Regarding the organizational culture theory, the logical flow arises from the reasoning that communication performances shape an organizational culture. These performances encompass various communications. Hence, there is a relationship between communication and culture. For the organizational information theory, the premise is information and the conclusion is organization (Griffin et al. 24). In this sense, there is a direct relationship between the existence of an organization and information. The two theories also work on various assumptions. For the organization culture theory, the assumptions are that every organization must have beliefs, values, and thoughts that define the culture (Griffin et al. 96). For the organization information theory, on the other hand, the main assumptions include the existence of information, the equivocality of information, and the change of information.
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In conclusion, the organization culture theory and the organization information theory are both communication theories used to explain group communication behaviors. The organization culture theory is concerned with the beliefs, values, and traditions as they shape group culture, while the organization information theory is concerned with rectifying the uncertainties of collecting and interpreting information for the success of an entity. The theories differ in their concepts, general scope, assumptions, and the use of the Darwinian concept. In both theories, however, it is evident that the culture of an organization and the means of information communication in a group are always changing, and that the ambiguities must be solved for the group to be sustainable.