theory523

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Objective: This question is designed to help you contextualize your final project. You may be able to use material you develop here in your final project.

Background: Please begin this exercise by reading the following information carefully.

Organizational Culture Theory is based on a metaphor— a creative device to make meaning by comparing two disparate ideas or things. This theory relies on a field of study known as ethnography, which uses qualitative methodologies of investigation. Ethnography involves observations of customs and culture. The researcher becomes part of the organization to systematically observe, analyze, and interpret artifacts, stories, rituals, and practices in order to gain insight into its culture. An ethnographer of communication examines how communication is used to build the shared beliefs and value systems that sustain a specific social structure (Baillet, 2009).

Ethnographic study of organizations shows members act out something researchers call communicative performances, a metaphor suggesting organizational life is like the theater (Tracy, 2009). Members of an organization bond through specific types of “performances” that help them create and maintain a shared sense of reality. Different organizations have different organizational realities. Because of this, the actions performed by the members of an organization are interpreted differently depending on the organization.

Activity:

To get a sense of the role organizational culture may be playing in the communication problem you are investigating for your final project, review the definitions of the following terms in our course materials and then describe an example of as many of them as you can from your workplace:*

  • Physical symbols
  • Behavioral symbols
  • Verbal symbols 

and 

  • Ritual performances
  • Passion performances
  • Social performances
  • Political performances
  • Enculturation performances

Complete your response by analyzing and explaining how your workplace’s culture affects your organization’s communication processes or information flows. Could that culture be contributing to the communication problem you are investigating?

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