Business Process Analysis for Corporate Communication ManagementDr Richard J Varey, Director, BNFL Corporate Communication Research UnitThe Graduate School of Management University of SalfordSummaryThe study will attend to communication and the design of coupled business processes,with the premise that communication can take place without economic transaction, but an economic transaction cannot take place without ‘informational’ and ‘effective’ communication (Horton, 1995).The study will examine the need for close co-operation in business-critical working relationships in a manufacturing environment, rather than examining trading relationships. Communication is the central issue, since shared interests, compatibilityof zones of meaning (Heath, 1994), growth in the relationship (i.e. way of working), and mutuality, are pre-eminent in creating and delivering value for stakeholders, including product and service users.The organising system is designed to generate ‘intermediate goods’ to provide enhanced productivity of resources, based on developing, caring for, and the exchangeof information among, the firm’s human capital. Thus ‘invisible assets’, which are difficult to imitate (Itami, cited in Amit and Schoemaker, 1993), are developed by combining physical, human, and technological resources at the corporate level. Communication is both a second-level support activity and a primary cross-organisational activity for the co-ordinated enactment of functional activities and business processes (Cushman and King, 1994). The former are conducted within zones of meaning, and the latter boundary-span the various zones of meaning of sub-groups within the corporate environment (Heath, 1994).Increasingly communication competence is being accepted as a core source of business strength and sustainable, inimitable competitive advantage (Fowler & Williams, 1997). Mumby and Stohl (1996) argue that communication is the principal constitutive element in the process of organising. Resource-based theory requires capabilityat individual, group, and/or corporate level – the capacity for a team of resources to perform some task or activity (Grant, 1991). There are similar concepts of ‘core competence’ from Prahalad & Hamel (1990) and ‘distinctive competency’ from Snow & Hrebiniak (1980). Heath (1994) explains the importance to co-operativeworking of compatible meanings for actions, relationships, and expectations. Amit and Schoemaker (1993) discuss the importance of firm-specific capabilities and strategic assets, such as culture, reputation, and relationships with parties to the business. These essentially dependent communication capabilities may include the capacity to deploy resources, usually in combination, using organisational processes, to effect a desired end. This deployment could result in, for example, reliable service, repeated product and service innovations, manufacturing flexibility, response to market trends, or short product development cycles.
Therefore communication competence (in terms to be defined) is a fundamental corporate capability (as in Kaplan and Norton’s ‘balanced scorecard’). Corporate