EDRD 3140 Chapter SummaryChapter 4-Systems and Cultural ApproachesLEARNING GOAL:“Recognize the differences among a machine metaphor, a systems metaphor, and a cultural metaphor for describingorganizational processes.”Theories to understand organizational processes.1)Mechanistic metaphor – classical and scientific management approaches to organizational communication theory are based on this metaphor (read chapter 2)2)Systems metaphor – views organization not as self-contained and self-sufficient machines but as complex organisms that must interact with their environment to survive.3)Cultural metaphor – takes an anthropological approachin understanding organizations as sites of interlinked beliefs, values, behaviours, and artifacts.History of Systems theory -key founder: Ludwig von Bertalanffy – theoretical biologist-Concerned with the extent to which intellectual disciplines were isolated from one another, and he argued that the systems concepts could be applied to a large number of fields in both the natural and social sciences-The study of systems was adopted by organizational theorists such as Katz and Kahn (1978) who took an open systems approach to organizational behaviour and by Farace, Monge, Russell (1977) in the field of communication.-The 1960s and 1970s were marked by extensive attention to the systems metaphor as a way of understanding the processes of organizational behaviour and communication.LEARNING GOAL:“Be able to explain system components, systemsprocesses, and systems properties and illustrate these ideas with organizational communication examples”System Components A system is an assemblage of parts or components. In a biological system, these parts include cells and organs.In an organizational system, these components are the people and departments that make up the organization.First task of a system theorist is to identify the relevant components that comprise the system.After the components of the system have been identified, it is interesting to look at how these parts are arranged and how they work
Three concepts characterize system components: Hierarchical ordering, interdependence, and permeability.Hierarchical ordering-A system is not simply an undifferentiated set of parts thrown together.-System components are arranged in highly complex ways that involve subsystems and supersystems (hierarchical order)Ex:A hospital consists of a number of departmental subsystems, including surgical units, recovery units, the emergency room, laboratories, and offices. Thesesubsystems, in turn, are composed of smaller work groups and individuals. Moving in the other direction, the hospital is part of a larger supersystems – the health care industry, including hospitals, clinics, insurance companies, and pharma companies.
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