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How Symbolic Organization Culture Could Improve Communication, Outline Example

Pages: 3

Words: 840

Outline

Introduction

  • Symbolic organizational culture, as discussed by Hatch and Cunliffe (2013) is an area of strategic communication
  • Symbolic organizational culture is less direct than explicit organizational culture and is closely related to the concept of tacit knowledge
  • Tacit knowledge is broadly defined as implied knowledge
  • Symbolism can help people effectively determine how ideas and concepts are created, communicated, contested, and sometimes changed
  • This application of understanding helps contribute to the workplace environment because it ensures that employees are presented with the same general understandings
  • Communication is essential in the workplace because it allows for an effective exchange of ideas
  • Positive organizational culture can potentially contribute to the development of workplace productivity
  • It is beneficial to incorporate culture into aspects of publication, project design, and communication with employees

What is symbolic organizational culture?

  • Symbols exist through sight, sound, touch, and smell
  • Symbols can change how individuals think about their organization
  • Some symbols are already present, while others can be created to foster the development of effective communication
  • If symbols are truthful, they can enrich lives; if they are not truthful, they can send a negative message to the viewer
  • It is therefore the responsibility of the manager to ensure that positive symbols are present and negative symbols are removed
  • Many offices already enact the concept of ritual symbols
  • Hosting an annual Christmas party exemplifies this concept

How do people communicate effectively?

  • People tend to communicate more effectively if they are from a similar culture and background (Work, 1981)
  • While this can be seen as problematic for some organizations, it is important to emphasize the positive consequence of this truth; creating a positive organizational culture can mimic peoples’ baseline cultures and contribute to positive communication
  • It is natural for people to implement symbolic communication in their daily activities
  • For example, providing a smile is an indicator of contentment or happiness; this is true for all cultures independent of language used
  • While there are different symbols used in different cultures, there is a great extent of overlap between use of these symbols and this can be taken advantage of to create a better workplace environment
  • Allowing individuals to consider how different symbols might impact other people allows them to understand how to communicate more effectively (Sayre, 1993)

How can effective communication be maximized?

  • Using a combination of a common language and common symbols can maximize communication between diverse groups of people (Chesire & Moser, 1994)
  • Using a common language is necessary to create a concrete understanding of knowledge and skills, but using common symbols helps add meaning to these words, which is especially necessary for those who do not speak the common language at home

Effective Communication in the School Setting

  • Many schools around the world host a diverse range of students, making it necessary to find ways for the professors, administration, and other students to communicate with them effectively
  • Some graduate students have reported that they felt that understanding their work was challenging as a consequence of learning the material in a different language
  • Symbolic communication could therefore be implemented in Perdue University, in addition to other training programs that will increase the communication abilities of members of the general study body
  • One study suggests the implementation of a “friend hosting” program to allow the students to see how their peers live and to build stronger relationships between individuals on campus (Brown, 2009)
  • Doing so will allow more students to gain the cultural understanding needed to implement both explicit and symbolic communication methods more effectively
  • Students that have participated in such a program in the past note that doing so has positively contributed to their campus experience
  • It is important for educators to use a variety of techniques in the classroom to facilitate student understanding (Stone & Glock, 1981)
  • For example, students that are visual learners would benefit from looking at images that are associated with the words being spoken; this is also beneficial for ESL learners
  • Other students prefer to have written material to accompany the spoken information

Conclusion

  • Symbolic communication will allow students and employees to communicate more effectively
  • Use of décor and implementing different teaching methods will ensure that students feel comfortable and are able to learn in their new environment
  • Many different techniques could be implemented to improve organizational culture at schools and at the workplace
  • The friend swap program will introduce students to new cultures and forge strong friendships between participants
  • It is important to consider the needs of foreign and ESL students because doing so will ensure that they are able to learn the necessary material as effectively as their peers
  • Use of illustrations and pre-written materials will help facilitate the understanding of both international and local students

References

Brown, L. (2009). A Failure of Communication on the Cross-Cultural Campus. Journal of Studies in International Education, 13(4): 439-454.

Cheshire, J., Moser, M. (1994). English as a Cultural Symbol: The Case of Advertisements in French-speaking Switzerland. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 15(6): 451-469.

Hatch, M. J., & Cunliffe A. L. (2013). Organization Theory. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Sayre, S. (1993). Symbolic Communication: Reading Material Culture. Journalism Educator, 47(4): 13-19.

Stone, D. E., Glock, M. D. (1981). How Do Young Adults Read Directions With and Without Pictures? Journal of Education Psychology, 73(3): 419-426.

Work, W. (1981). Communication across Cultures. Communication Education. Eric Report,  30(2): 184-91.

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