Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Chapter Six: Political Systems

I would contend that one strong characteristic of this region (Wisconsin/Minnesota) is an extremely strong aversion to conflict. This manifests itself in "Minnesota nice" behavior and a general avoidance of conflict. At its wost, this conflict aversion manifests itself in passive-agressive behaviors. In these situations, rather than confront someone with whom they have a conflict, an individual denies and avoids the conflict but then works behind the others back to make them "pay" for the conflict situation. So, for example, a student does not like the way a teacher grades papers in a class. Rather than arranging a meeting with the teacher to share their concerns about the grading process and seek a mutual satisfactory solution, the student talks to other students about the teacher behind the teacher's back and encourages the other students to "slam" the teacher on evaluations at the end of the semester.

I'm not sure what the origins of this behavior pattern are but I can say from experience that it is more prominent here than in other regions of the country where I have worked. Do you feel this is a fair assessment? What implications does this assessment have for organizational life? Is this behavior characteristic of organizations from this area? If this assessment is accurate, what happens when people leave the area and get involved in organizations that have different assumptions?

I'm curious to get your take on this idea. It's one I've thought about a lot since I moved here nine years ago.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Chapter Five: organizational culture

The metaphor of organizational culture is interesting in part because it is difficult to say exactly what a "culture" is. How do you talk about communication that is not cultural? Arguably we are in the process of creating and maintaining culture every time we speak.

On the other hand, when we want to identify what distinguishes organizational communication form management or business the undeniable and fundamental way in which communication creates the culture of an organization is a good explanatory framework.

What do you think of the cultural approach to communication? Are we talking metaphor here? Or something more?

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Metaphor on the Move--Organization as Brain

The reason that I call this a metaphor on the move is that our knowledge of what the brain is and how it works is increasing exponentially. Humans have long known that the brain is an information processing center. We have tried to understand the way the brain learns for nearly as long. Recently, however, we have been able to use increasingly powerful equipment (like MRIs and such) to develop a much more sophisticated sense of how the brain actually works. The brain metaphor has challenged our understanding of organizations as it has developed. From information processing, to learning, to holographic design and beyond the metaphor continues to challenge how we see organizations.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Chapter Two: Organization as Machine

Frederick Taylor's classic work on organizations was published in 1911. He died in 1915. Max Weber wrote around the turn of the 20th century and passed away in 1920. Other important writers in the machine metaphor wrote in the early 20th century. There can be little doubt that the notion that organizations are like machines was well established a century ago. Nevertheless, the machine metaphor remains one of the strongest metaphors to this day. What experience do you have with the machine metaphor? What is your reaction to the material in the chapter and in class discussion ?

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Welcome to the CST 452 Blog

You've found it! I encourage you to bookmark this blog and review it regularly. Feel free to post thoughts you have about the material we are studying. Read the comments of your classmates and feel free to respond to them. You are always welcome to go back to previous comments and respond to responses.

With any luck we can create an interesting online dialogue about what I hope you will find to be really interesting material.

Let me know if you have any ideas how to make this blog even more useful.

The Introduction chapter is brief but introduces the approach of the text (and the course). Don't underestimate the power of the approach to metaphor that Morgan is introducing. Think about how he expands the idea far beyond the "literary" notion of metaphor that most of us have been introduced to. Use this brief chapter as an opportunity to stretch your blog writing legs a bit. Feel free to think expansively and put yourself into this dialogue about the study of organizations.

Have fun! Use your brain. Share.