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?