ch 4 book notes


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CH 4: CULTURAL STUDIES OF ORGANIZATIONS AND COMMUNICATION The Cultural Approach The cultural approach foregrounds the human desire to see organizational life as an opportunity to do something meaningful. It is relevant to organizations because cultures inevitably develop whenever people organize in any fashion Marshall Sahlins (1976) (Anthropologist) defines culture as meaninful orders of persons and things. We learn about a culture not only by what its members say, but by what they frequently do (office parties, staff meetings, performance appraisals) Organizational culture stands for the actions, ways of thinking, practices, stories, and artifacts that characterize a particular organization. Organizational cultures can be studied through a close examination of the organization’s environment (parking lots, conference rooms, offices) as well as through its use of symbols (jargon, awards, conversations) The following cultural elements (symbolic expressions) are important parts of an organizational culture: Metaphors : figures of speech that define unfamiliar experiences in terms of more familiar ones Rituals : dramatized events that range from daily routines to yearly celebrations Stories Artifacts : tangible and physical features of an organization : members of a culture who are upheld as role models because they embody and personify the cultural values Performances : dynamic, processual, creative communication behaviors that construct culture Values: shared sets of beliefs about appropriate organizational behaviors Changes in the business climate, particularly the increase of competitive pressure, provided practical motivations for the development of the cultural approach In the 1970s the US found itself eclipsed by the other industrial nations, most notably Japan Inspired by Japanese organization, William Ouchi developed Theory Z , which holds that the survival and prosperity of an organization depends heavily on its ability to adapt to surrounding cultures The economic troubles of Asia at the end of the 20 th century, reveal that much of Japan’s success was gained through individual efforts coupled with close informal contacts and partnerships, research and development of new products, and clever strategies. In the 1980s, interpretive theorists became interested in understanding the complex,
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This note was uploaded on 02/06/2012 for the course COM 339 taught by Professor Shulman during the Spring '11 term at Miami University.

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