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Unformatted text preview: The Role of Memorable Messages in the Process of Organizational Socialization Cynthia Stohl This study examines the structure, form, and nature of the content and context of memorable messages exchanged within an organization. Based on the work of Knapp, Stohl and Reardon (1981) an analysis of interviews conducted within a small company indicates that all members were able to recall precisely a specific message which had a lasting influence on their work lives. The messages capsulized how one "should" behave in the organization and functioned to assimilate individuals into the work culture. The socializing and memorable nature ofthe messages were enhanced by several recurrent features in their form and structure, the receptivity of the respondent, the content, and the context. KEY CONCEPTS Organizational socialization, assimilation, memorable messages, organizational culture, organizational communication, memory, work, rules, scripts CYNTHIA STOHL (PhD., Purdue University, 1982) is Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907. A special attribute of the success-oriented, positive and innovating environ- ment is a substantial tolerance for failure. James Burke, J & J's (Johnson and Johnson) CEO says, "One of the tenets is that you've got to be willing to fail." He adds that General Johnson, J & J's founder said to him, "If I weren't making mistakes, I wasn't making decisions." (Peters & Waterman, 1981, p. 223) T his paragraph exemplifies two major themes developed by Peters and Waterman (1981) in their best-selling book In Search of Excellence: 1) the importance of substantial tolerance for failure in excellent compa- nies and 2) the importance of explicating and instilling strong corporate values within the organization. Throughout their book the authors provide numerous examples of the myths, legends, homilies, and vignettes that are used to acquaint new members with and reinforce insiders' knowledge of the rules, requirements, and "rationality" ofthe excellent companies. Burke's recollec- tion of a specific corporate message capsulizing the essence of how one should behave within his company is illustrative of a less noted but possibly pervasive process by which individuals learn requisite organizational orienta- tionsthe transmission/reception of "memorable messages" within informal organizational networks. The purpose of this study is to examine the structure, form, and nature of the content and context of memorable messages tranmitted within an Communication Quarterly, Vol. 34, No. 3, Summer 1986, Pages 231-249 2 3 1 organizational setting. Earlier work by Knapp, Stohl, and Reardon (1981) found an overwhelming percentage of respondents were able to recall precisely a specific message that had a lasting and continuing influence on their lives. An analysis of the structure and content as well as the circum- stances surrounding the transmission and reception of 224 "memorable" messages identified several recurrent features. The analysis further revealedmessages identified several recurrent features....
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- Spring '11
- Organizational Communication