Communication in times of change

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Authors: I. Smith

Publication Year: 2006


Journal: Library management

Volume: 27

Issue: 1-2

Categories: Quantitative, Organizational Change, Quantitative


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to examine the role of communication during organisational change. Design/methodology/approach: The paper outlines five key rules for good organisational communication along with a suggested four-phase framework for communicating effectively during times of change. Findings: The paper finds that the role of communication during organisational change is important. Originality/value: The paper provides a useful set of rules for good communication during organisational change.

Critical Reflection

Discussion by Bjorn Burscher: MEDIA RICHNESS THEORY: A medium fits with a task. The author of the article argues that effective communication is critical to the ultimate success of any attempt to achieve organisational change. He says, that "such communication must be accurate, honest, delivered at the right time and in formats appropriate to the audience". In order to achieve the right format, it is is crucial to choose the right medium. Media richness Theory argues that different media are differently well suited for different kinds of messages and communication goals.

History and Orientation

Media richness theory is based on contingency theory and information processing theory (Galbraith 1977). First proponents of the theory were made by Daft & Lengel (1984).

Core Assumptions and Statements

Core: Researchers Daft, Lengel and successors propose that communication media have varying capacities for resolving ambiguity, negotiating varying interpretations, and facilitating understanding.
Two main assumptions of this theory are: people want to overcome equivocality and uncertainty in organizations and a variety of media commonly used in organizations work better for certain tasks than others. Using four criteria, Daft and Lengel present a media richness hierarchy, arranged from high to low degrees of richness, to illustrate the capacity of media types to process ambiguous communication in organizations. The criteria are (a) the availability of instant feedback; (b) the capacity of the medium to transmit multiple cues such as body language, voice tone, and inflection; (c) the use of natural language; and (d) the personal focus of the medium. Face-to-face communication is the richest communication medium in the hierarchy followed by telephone, electronic mail, letter, note, memo, special report, and finally, flier and bulletin. From a strategic management perspective, the media richness theory suggests that effective managers make rational choices matching a particular communication medium to a specific task or objective and to the degree of richness required by that task.


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