Miller, K. (1999). Organizational Communication: Approaches and Processes (2nd Ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing.
Other Required Readings:
There are several articles on reserve at each of the libraries. I encourage you to make a personal copy of each of the articles early in the semester so you have plenty of time to prepare them for class discussion. Please let me know immediately if you can’t locate an article or if any portion of an article is missing.
- Course Description & Objectives-
The purpose of this course is to examine the role of communication in organizations. Specifically, we will work to understand the relationship between communication processes and organizational variables. This understanding can help to highlight some common communication problems experienced in organizations and point to strategies for addressing them. Topics covered include (but are not limited to) organizational theory, communication theory, corporate culture, conflict, diversity, technology, organizational metaphors, management styles and decision-making. (Prerequisite: 105).
There is a service-learning requirement for this course. This means that throughout the term you will provide meaningful service to a local organization that is in partnership with CSB/SJU. For this class you will choose to work at either South Side Boys and Girls Clug, St. Benedict Senior Community, or the St. Cloud Hospital. Your service to the organizational will be split between individual volunteer work and team based project consulting. You must complete the minimum of 20 hours of service in order to pass this class.
At the conclusion of this course, the student’s grade shall reflect his or her ability to:
• Identify and describe a survey of theoretical approaches used to study
• Identify and define the primary dynamics associated with organizational
• Apply course content to analysis and discussion of real organizational situations.
• Identify and critique scholarly and popular business literature on a relevant
organizational communication variable or issue.
• Collect data (through ethnography and library research) for analysis of
communication patterns in a real life organization.
• Analyze and prepare reports (oral and written) about organizational communication
in a real life organization.
• Provide constructive and sensitive participation in classroom discussion.
ACCOMMODATIONS: It is the policy of this instructor and CSB/SJU to provide, on a flexible and individualized basis, reasonable accommodations to students who have disabilities that may affect their ability to participate in course activities or to meet course requirements. Students with disabilities are encouraged to contact their instructors to discuss their individual needs for accommodations.
- Grading -
1. SL journal entries (40 pts. x 3) 120
2. SL research paper (25 + 75 + 100) 200
3. Group presentation 50
4. Case study discussion prep. (10 x 8) 80
5. Class Participation 50
NOTE: You must complete and turn in all assignments in order to pass this class - this
includes completing the minumum of 20 hours of service.
Grade %Scale Grading Guidelines
A 93-100 Achievement outstanding relative to the level necessary to meet the course requirements.
B 83-87 Achievement significantly above the level necessary to meet course requirements.
C 73-77 Achievement that meets the basic course requirements in every aspect.
D 60-67 Achievement that is worthy of credit even though it does not fully meet the basic course
F Below 60 Performance that fails to meet basic course requirements and is unworthy of credit.
S Satisfactory (if registered S/N), at least C work, and all assignments must be completed.
U Unsatisfactory, no credit (if registered S/N), D or below
I Incomplete (An “I” will not be issued automatically. It must be arranged prior to the last
class. An “incomplete” will be given only in the most unusual and unavoidable circumstances.)
S/U Grading Option: If you wish to take this course on a s/u basis, you must make your request to me in writing by, November 1, 2002. No requests will be considered after that date. Most of you are not eligible to take this course s/u. For additional information on the s/u option, consult the course catalogue.
- Course Policies -
Attendance: Students are expected to attend all classes. Your active participation plays a major role in your understanding and application of theory, as well as in the development of your service-learning group projects. There is no substitute for being in class. It is difficult to get a satisfactory grade in this course if you frequently miss class. It is not uncommon for students to drop a full grade due to un-excused absences. So here are the details on how attendance works in this class:
• You will have two “free” absences. No questions, no penalties, no problems. However,
don’t waste your free days because getting an absence “excused” will not be an easy task
(see below). Please note that any assignments due on any “free” day you may miss are
still due and will be treated as “late work” (see below) if turned in after the date due.
• After three absences, missing class (unexcused) will result in a 10%
reduction of your participation grade.
• Attendance will be assessed by a daily circulating attendance sheet which you should sign
each class period. NOTE: it is your responsibility to sign the attendance sheet each class.
Find it and sign it before you leave the room. If you don’t (because you came late, it didn’t
reach your corner of the room, or for whatever reason), you will not be able to receive
credit for attendance once we have left the classroom -- please do not ask.
• Excused Absences: Acceptable reasons for late assignments or missed classes are
personal illness (medically documented), death of a relative or close friend, and other
personal or family emergencies. You should, whenever possible, notify me in advance
when you know you will be absent from class. If you are unable to notify me prior to an
anticipated absence, please make an effort to contact me as soon as reasonably possible.
Most importantly, we must discuss your reason and agree that it merits an excuse.
• If you miss a class session, you are responsible for finding out from a classmate the
material you missed. If you don’t understand the material, please ask me.
Late Work: All work is due at the beginning of the class on the day due. Late work will receive a 10% reduction for each twenty-four hour period the assignment is late - including Saturdays and Sundays (unless you have made prior arrangements with me).
Academic Dishonesty: Academic dishonesty will not be tolerated, and will result in a failing grade for this course and a referral to the college committee that deals with it. Academic dishonesty includes using material without appropriately citing its source, cheating on an assignment or exam, and interfering with another student's learning. If you use the words or ideas of someone else, you must cite the original source of information.
Incompletes: Because this is in large part a participation-based class, incompletes are difficult for the student and given only under extreme circumstances. Incompletes require documentation for consideration and must be arranged in advance with the instructor.
Grade appeals: If you feel you have been graded unfairly, you are encouraged to present an appeal to me. Please allow for a 24 hour period after receiving the grade before making your appeal . If necessary, these must be presented no later than one week after you received the grade and must be presented to me in written form before they will be considered.
- Course Assignments -
Service-Learning Reflective Journals
At three times throughout the term you will turn in journal entries addressing your experience within your participating organization. Journals should not be a run down of your experiences but should make use of your understanding of information gained from the text and lectures. Regular journal entries will increase and develop your understanding of organizational dynamics by allowing you to apply them to a real organizational experience. In other words, the goal is to apply your own research, and what has been discussed in class, directly to your service-learning experience.
To do this, try and let your experience within the organization guide your analysis. When you see or experience something that affected you, reflect on the content of the course to help you make sense of it. For example, if you had or witnessed an interaction that made you happy or angry or (insert your emotion here) consider how (for example) a human relations approach, or a cultural approach could help explain this aspect of the organization. Or discuss how social support, diversity, power and/or conflict styles (etc.) impacted the outcome of the interaction. Realize too that not every theory or process can adequately explain every situation. Try to determine the approach or process that best articulates what you see happening in the organization at that time. Naturally your ability to do this type of analysis will develop throughout the term as you are introduced to more material– I will expect that your level of analysis will improve throughout the term. Periodically you may be given specific questions to consider that that will help guide your journal entries. While journals will only be collected at three times throughout the term you are expected to write a journal entry for each time you go to your service organization. I will be looking for multiple entries when you turn your journals in to me. This thoughtful analysis, done throughout the semester, will provide the essential information and examples for your final paper.
Journal entries should be typed and will be due at the beginning of class on the date due (see schedule for details). For your own protection, keep copies of each journal entry.
Journals will be given two primary grades: pass or fail. Some journals may be exceptional and will, therefore, receive a pass plus grade. Others may be sufficient for passing, but may not include enough theory and application of concepts; these journal entries will earn a pass minus.
Journals will be graded as follows:
Fail (F) 0 points: Journal is very incomplete or nonexistent
Pass-minus (P-) 25 points: Talks about what happened within the
organization with minimal application of course material.
Pass (P) 32 points: Talks about what happened in the organization and
why, while applying three or four of the theories or
concepts from class to your observations. These
journals will demonstrate your ability to identify and
apply course concepts to your organizational
experience. They will also include several specific
examples from your organizational experience.
Pass-plus (P+) 40 points: Talks about what happened and why, applying at
least five of the theories and concepts from course
material or research. These entries will include many
specific examples to support observation and
application of course materials.
No other members of the class will read your journal, nor will specific contents be revealed in lecture, so feel free to be as honest and open as your wish. Truthful analysis will allow you to reflect on what’s happening in the organization and to better understand it. Please feel free to make comments or ask me questions in your journals but understand that I will not offer specific solutions to problems you present. Also, you do not need to use your journal as a vehicle to sell me on how good your group is and how good your presentation will be. The journals are a way for you to synthesize and apply the materials we are learning in class. As with all learning, the more you put into the process the more you will get out of it.
Service-Learning Research Paper
Throughout the term you will develop a research paper that will allow you to synthesize course material and additional research with your service-learning experience. This work will culminate in a paper that is 10-15 pages in length utilizing a minimum of 5 scholarly sources. For this paper, you are to choose one of the topics covered in Chapters 7-14 of your textbook (e.g., socialization processes, performance control processes, external communication processes, etc.), then you are to choose one of the three contemporary approaches to the study of organizational communication: the systems aproach, the cultural approach, or the critical approach. In your paper, you should use this combination of approach and process to provide an insightful analysis of the organization you worked in as part of your service-learning experience. This project will be completed and turned in in three parts. (Check tentative schedule for due dates.)
See the next page for details.
Part 1 (25 points): (1-2 pages) will include a brief introduction that discusses the organizational communication process and the approach you will use to analyze that process. Part one will also include a section describing the assumptions and research tenets of the approach (systems, cultural, or critical) you’ll use in your analysis. This paper is basically designed to force you to get started early on the research process by making you choose and narrow your focus. It is also designed to demonstrate your basic understanding of the theoretical approach and process you have chosen. At the end of this paper, do your best to present a general thesis statement and preview statement of the paper to follow (see part 2 description for examples). I realize the thesis and organization may change but I want you to give it a try. Extra research is not required for this part of the paper but is recommended. Any outside sources that are used for this portion of the paper (including the class textbook) must be cited within in the paper and presented on a reference page using APA style (4th edition).
Part 2 (75 points): (4 pages minimum - 7 pages maximum) will consist of a summary literature review that has investigated the process you’ve chosen with the approach you’ve chosen (e.g., what do we already know about socialization from a cultural perspective or what do we already know about diversity from a critical perspective?). This literature review will set up the analysis that comes in part three of your final paper. Specifically, in this review you should summarize and critically evaluate reserach that will be used to support your analysis in part three.
The paper should include at least three parts.
Part one (the introduction) introduces the topic and narrows the focus of the paper to the specific theoretical approach and communication process under investigation. This section should end with a thesis statement and a preview of the main points of the paper. The thesis statement is a way of clearly stating a position on the subject that the writer plans to support with evidence. It can be in the form of a direct statement (“This paper will evaluate the effectiveness of using a cultural approach to understand socialization in organizations), a question (“What do we know, or can we learn, about socialization from a cultural perspective?), or a hypothesis (“Organizations with strong cultures tend to have more effective socialization practices”). The thesis is not a personal opinion or belief - there must be support for the proposition. The literature review that follows this introduction is that support. The preview statement provides a clear and detailed preview of the rest of the paper. E.g., “To perform this analysis, first, I’ll…, second,…and finally,…” This statement clarifies the organization of the paper to follow. Note: if your think this sounds like a shortened restatement of part 1 of your paper – you’re right. I am asking you write this again here because I suspect your thinking has matured and I want you to work on articulating your focus more clearly. For your final paper, this information will go in Part 1.
The second part (the body) will summarize information and make a statement about your particular focus. It is in this section that the reader should be able to see how the research helps to clarify the specific problem or topic. The body should present two to five well-supported main points. They should be organized in a pattern that makes sense (e.g., chronological, sequential, problem-solution, topical). Chronological organization is useful when you have main points that follow one another in a logical time sequence (e.g., changes in the external communication responsibilities of corporate CEO’s -- in 1970’s, the 1990’s, and the 2000’s). A cousin of chronological is organizing main points in the order of sequential stages (e.g., stages of socialization). To use Problem-Solution, present one or more main points that clarify the problem/costs followed by one or more main points that recommend actions to alleviate the problem/costs (e.g., diversity in the workplace has led to cultures of discrimination and harassment, organizations are working to implement multicultural organization principles). Topical organization is often appropriate when you are presenting several theories or arguments (e.g., Thomas (1976) identified five major conflict management styles: competition, collaboration, compromise, avoidance, and accommodation. I will review the research to show how the use and effectiveness of these conflict resolution strategies is likely to differ depending on organizational culture).
(Research Paper Part 2 continued)
This section is the "meat" of the paper. Here you summarize theory and previous investigations to inform the reader of the state of current research in the area. Within that discussion you may also detail specific findings as you see fit. Individual findings may be useful for applying the research to your organizational analysis in part 3. Overall, you should identify relationships, contradictions, inconsistencies, and gaps in the literature reviewed. That is, you provide a critical evaluation as well as a summary of the current research. Most importantly, this should NOT be a listing of the articles you found followed by a brief description of each. This literature review is a critical evaluation of the research, not a book report.
The third and final part (the conclusion) provides an overall summary of your findings. You should include a critical evaluation of the literature (if you haven’t already done so) and suggest the next steps that you will take to analyze your service-learning experience using this research.
You must use APA style (4th edition) for all notations.
Part three (100 points) (15 pages maximum) is actually the final draft of the service-learning paper. In your final draft, you should incorporate all of your work on the project (parts 1 & 2 of your research paper) into one paper plus an added section (4-6 pages) that will consist of a detailed analysis of your organization in terms of your chosen approach and process (e.g., a critical analysis of conflict management processes, a cultural analysis of the socialization processes in your participating organization, etc.). This analysis will be supported with many specific examples from your experience and data gathering in the organization. It will also be supported by the outside scholarly research that you reviewed in part two of your paper. Begin this anlaysis process by reviewing your reflective journals. Then, raise the level of analysis by incorporating the outside research as support for your claims about the organization.
For your final draft, also be sure to add connectives (previews, internal summaries, transitions between sections, concluding remarks) so the paper reads like an integrated piece. Write clearly and concisely. Make any recommended revisions from parts one and two, eliminate grammatical problems and spelling, and follow APA format in detail.
General formatting guidelines for parts 1, 2, and 3:
• one inch margins, 12 point font, double spaced
• APA style (4th edition) for all source notations within the text and on reference pages
• number all pages
• You must use headers for the final paper. For example:
Introduction (Part 1)
Literature Review (Part 2)
Analysis (Part 3)
Conclusion (Part 3)
Service-Learning Group Presentation
Sometime during the last two weeks of the term your service-learning group will give a 20-30 minute presentation regarding your service-learning project. This presentation is the final piece of your team project. It is designed to let you bring closure to the project and to allow the rest of the class to benefit from your organizational experience. The presentation can be informal but should be prepared. So, plan and organize the presentation but don’t feel that it needs to be in business style or scripted. The presentation should have three main parts:
1) A summary of your group’s activities within your participating organization. This should include a review of your teams project content, process and outcome. To do this I would like this part of your presentation to follow some logical decision making format. For example, summarize the:
1. Identification & definition of the problem
2. Analysis of the problem
3. Generation of possible solutions
4. Selection of solution or solutions
5. Implementation of solution(s)
This is just one example of a decision making model. Feel free to use some variation of the above, just be clear on the model/organization you are using.
2) A review of at least three approaches and three processes that were illustrated within the organization. So, describe how you saw elements of a systems approach, cultural approach, critical approach etc. at work within the organization and identify at least three processes (e.g., diversity, conflict, socialization, stress & social support…) that were of significance in your experience. Try to pick out the highlights - those theories and processes that you deem to be most influential and significant in the organization.
This information can be a collaboration of the individual research (e.g., journals observations, final paper) of each team member or can represent collective insights of the team. In all, it should represent a clear reflection of your service-learning experience using organizational communication theory and research.
3) A discussion of how this knowledge and experience can and should be used to improve communication in organizations. This information may be incorporated throughout parts one and two of the presentation or saved for a more targeted discussion at the end. But please make some effort to identify some specific improvements for your participating organization and/or for any organization in the future.
The presentation should be 20-30 minutes in length. A VCR and overhead projector are always available in class but if you want to use Powerpoint or computer projection you need to call AV services and try to reserve a Computer on Wheels. If you have any other needs or questions please come and talk with me about it.
Preparation prior to class is invaluable for ensuring a useful and satisfying classroom session – bottom line, it will be a lot more fun (& illuminating) if everyone comes knowledgeable and prepared. Therefore, all students are expected to have actively prepared for discussion days. These days will take two primary forms: 1) a directed discussion that allows us to work through an organizational case study, or 2) a more open discussion of assigned reserve research articles.
Prior to case study discussion you will be given a set of discussion questions to prepare. For class, bring your thoughtful responses to these questions. These responses should be typed and will be collected each case study discussion day. They will be graded credit/no credit. In
other words, as long as you turn in relevant and applicable responses to each and every question
you will get full credit. (More..)
(Discussion Preparation continued)
On those days when we discuss research articles I want you to write a 1-2 page reaction paper about the articles. In those papers simply review your specific reactions, thoughts, and questions as they relate to the assigned articles. Also, discuss how the research ties in with course content. In other words, demonstrate how each specific article relates to what we are covering in class and add your own comments and/or questions. These should be typed and will be collected on the day the article(s) is/are discussed. These papers will also be graded credit/no credit. So, as long as you demonstrate knowledge and comprehension of the assigned articles in your reaction paper, you will get credit.
“Participation” and “Leadership” is worth a significant amount of your final grade. This class will not succeed without you, your efforts to participate, and your leadership in class. This class is a discussion-based (not lecture-based) class. Hence, we need each other to make it work.
Participation does not = talking a lot. Rather, participation means making worthy and thoughtful contributions based on an understanding of your responsibilities in discussion and the choices you make because of them. Hence, the grade you earn for participation will be based in-part on the quality and consistency of your choices for in-class contributions. The total participation grade will be based on attendance, in-class contributions, and participation in the service-learning team project.
You need to be fully prepared to make every meeting a worthwhile learning experience by coming to class prepared and ready to discuss readings, your skill practices, your experiences, and your thoughts as they relate to these.
Since participation is an important part of your learning experience in this course, I have provided below the evaluation criteria I will be using*. Review it to maximize your opportunity to succeed.
1. Discusses and relates ideas, extends ideas of others--does not talk just to hear him/herself
2. Clarifies ideas by seeking opinions from others.
3. Makes comments related to the topic or activity.
4. Avoids divisive statements.
5. Offers own perspective in others' terms.
6. Uses clarification messages to check the accuracy of perceptions.
7. Comes to class on time.
8. Shows evidence of being prepared in terms of reading, knowledge of subject, and analysis
9. Shows genuine interest in topics and activities being presented.
10. Accepts responsibility for her/his own behavior.
11. Avoids interrupting others.
12. Avoids blaming others for misunderstandings.
13. Avoids isolate/passive behaviors.
14. Takes others into account when formulating responses.
15. Shows understanding of others' expressed experience.
16. Does not evaluate others' expressed experience.
17. Generalizes by bringing together ideas and input from others.
*Criteria developed by Jeanne Cook, St. John’s University
Please feel free to come and talk to me
if you have questions about these or any assignments.
Comm 367: Tentative Schedule
* Days with descriptions in italics indicate special guest speakers and/or presenters.
† Descriptions in BOLD indicate you should have something prepared to turn in for that assignment.
Day Topics Readings & Due Dates
8/28 W Intro. to the Course & Service-Learning
8/30 F Structural Functional Approach
9/3 T Service-Learning Orientation * Read the Service-Learning Handout
9/5 TH Traditional Approaches: Classical Chapter 1
9/9 M Human Relations Approach Chapter 2
9/11 W Human Resources Approach Chapter 3
9/13 F Synthesis: Classical, Human Relations Reserve Reading:
Human Resources Approaches Peterson (2000), Case 4
Due: Case Study Discussion Prep
9/17 T Contemporary Approach: Systems Chapter 4
9/19 TH Discuss Systems Approach Reserve Readings:
Bantz (1990) and Weick (1993)
Due: Reaction Paper Discussion Prep
9/23 M Cultural Approaches Chapter 5
9/25 W Discuss Cultural Approaches Reserve Reading:
Andrews (2000), Case 1
Due: Case Study Discussion Prep
9/27 F Service-Learning Reflection Day Due: Journals #1
10/1 T Critical Approaches – “Roger & Me” Chapter 6
10/3 TH Critical Approaches – “Roger & Me” Chapter 6
10/7 M FREE DAY!
10/9 W Discuss Critical Approaches Reserve Readings:
Due: Reaction Paper Discussion Prep (comment on the film & article)
10/11 F Library Orientation Day Read paper assignment description
CLASS WILL MEET IN ALCUIN, AV II
10/15 T Decision Making in Organizations Chapter 9
Due: Research Paper Part I
10/17 TH Decision Making in Organizations Reserve Reading:
Hammond & Fearon (2000), Case 10
Due: Case Study Discussion Prep
10/21 M Socialization Chapter 7
10/23 W Discuss Socialization Reserve Readings:
Gibson & Papa (2000), and Teboul (1995)
Due: Reaction Paper Discussion Prep
10/25 F No Class – Comp. day
10/29 T Service-Learning Reflection Due: Journals #2
10/31 TH Motivation/Performance Control Chapter 8
11/4 M Power & Conflict Chapter 10
11/6 W Discuss Power & Conflict Reserve Reading:
Kincaid, Hamsmith, & Cavenaugh (2000), Case 20
Due: Case Study Discussion Prep
11/8 F Burnout: Stress & Social Support Chapter 11
11/12 T Discuss Stress & Social Support Reserve Readings:
Meyerson (1994), and Andrews & Kacmar (2001)
Due: Reaction Paper Discussion Prep
11/14 TH Diversity in Organizations Chapter 12 Due: Research Paper Part II
11/18 M Discuss Diversity in Organizations Reserve Readings:
Allen (1996), Fletcher & Kaplan (2000), and Gilbert & Ivancevich (2000)
Due: Reaction Paper Discussion Prep
11/20 W Service-Learning Reflection Due: Journals #3
11/22 F No Class - Comp. Day (Make it a group project work day!)
I will be attending the NCA convention in New Orleans.
11/26 T Crisis Communication: Chapter 13
Image Construction and Maintenance Reserve Readings:
Murray (2001), Fleming (1997), Hanner (1998), and Hakenson (2000)
Due: Reaction Paper Discussion Prep
11/27-29 Thanksgiving Break!
12/3 T Technology in Organizations Chapter 14
12/5 TH Project Presentations
12/9 M Project Presentations
12/11 W Project Presentations
FINAL RESEARCH PAPERS DUE: no later than Tuesday 12/17, at 12pm.
Please Note: This syllabus is subject to change. All changes will be announced in class and the
student is responsible for those changes. Come to class with the readings
complete, and any observations or questions ready.