Employee reactions to management communication: a study of operations personnel in the oil industry.
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Based on an intense small scale study which observed a small team of operations personnel who work in a telecommunications company within the oil industry, this thesis examined employee reactions to management communication. Employee interpretations and reactions after each communication from the management team were analysed as the ‘organisational story’ ‘unfolds’ from the ‘other side’ (i.e. employee perspective) instead of the rather usual/dominant one (i.e. managerial perspective). Behaviour was observed from an interactionist, interpretive and critical perspective and analysed in the light of several managerial and communication theories with the aim of critically examining the claims of the post-modern organisation theory (i.e. humanisation of work) and certain communication theories. An ethnographic approach, which enabled the researcher/participant to conduct participant observation in a real setting, ensured deep understanding of social situations and human actions. The results of this study suggest that upward communication is problematic due to the power settings that exist in organisations. Based on Goffman’s theory, it is suggested that employee ‘performance’ is affected by certain rules and conventions which shape organisational psychology and interpersonal relations. Therefore, the utopian claims of the post-modern organisation theory along with the rather simplistic assumptions of some of the literature on communication need to be re-evaluated and re-defined in the search for a more critical understanding of communication. This thesis concludes that contrary to the utopia of the post-modern organisation, the reality of organisational life and communication reflects the persistence of the modern organisation and the power structures which dominate it.