978-1319052348 Chapter 3

Document Type
Homework Help
Book Title
Organizational Communication: Balancing Creativity and Constraint 8th Edition
Angela Trethewey, Eric M. Eisenberg, Marianne LeGreco
Three Early Perspectives on Organizations and Communication
Chapter 3 explains communication theories associated with classical management, human relations, and human resources. The
text emphasizes that historical writing in general is partial, partisan, and problematic. Classical management approaches fo-
cused on modeling organizations after efficient machines. The human relations perspective emphasized the need for individual
creativity and satisfaction of needs. The human resources approach married the needs for individual creativity and organiza-
tional structure and is the precursor of modern organizational management practices.
List and define the three Ps of historical writing.
Clarify the importance of theory in generating arguments about organizational communication.
Provide the basic history and assumptions that guide each of the three approaches: classical manage-
ment, human relations, and human resources.
Discuss the benefits and critiques of each model.
Differentiate between the various approaches.
Describe what is meant by resistance narratives, and provide an example.
Explain the impact of the Industrial Revolution on organizational views.
Identify the contributions to organizational perspectives made by individuals like Benjamin Franklin,
Frederick Taylor, and Henri Fayol.
While the information in this chapter is essential, students can be overwhelmed by it. Students might know they
need to understand the theories and concepts, but may still find them “abstract” or tedious. The challenge of this
section will be to find real examples to make theories come alive. These concepts will be easier for students
when they connect the theoretical to the personal. Finally, engaging students in practical exercises encourages
further study and understanding of organizational communication.
Exercise 1
This activity is a mock job interview based on the theories of organizations and communication. Divide students
into four groups. To each of the first three groups, assign one of the following approaches to management:
1. Classical
2. Human relations
3. Human resources
Instruct each group to design the ideal manager based on their approach. Give the manager a management phi-
losophy, education, and work history. Select a group member to “play the part” of the manager in a job inter-
view. Make sure that he or she is prepared to make a case for your group’s approach to management.
The remaining group will be the interview committee. While the other groups are constructing their ideal man-
ager, have the final group create its own organization. Instruct this group to generate interview questions, an
organizational mission statement, a product/service line, and a profile of employees. Give this final group some
freedom in constructing this organization. After each group has had some time to construct its picture of an ide-
al manager, carry out the interview. Finish the exercise by having the interview committee choose a manager
and facilitating a discussion about this choice.
Exercise 2
Divide students into small groups of four or five and direct them to read the What Would You Do? box titled
“Managing the Kitchen.” Give students some time to work through the discussion questions in their small
groups. As a class, spend some time discussing question number three. Ask students to reflect on their answers
about alternative organizational approaches as well as specific contexts when more classical approaches might
be more appropriate.
Exercise 3
Ask students to engage in a “raft debate.The premise is quite simple: Humanity ended and there is room on
the raft for only one groupa classical management team, a human relations management team, or a human
resources management team. Select three students to staff each team. The remaining students will serve as the
“jury,” who decides which team gets to stay on the raft and help the rest of you to rebuild humanity. Give each
team time to construct their argument as to why their approach is most important for humanity’s future. (You
might even want to assign the teams the class period before the exercise.) Then, allow each team to pitch their
argument to the jury. Once all of the presentations have been made, allow the jury time to vote (either as a
group or by secret ballot) to keep one of the management teams as you sail off to rebuild humanity.
Exercise 4
Ask students to consider the Everyday Organizational Communication box. Gyms and fitness centers have be-
come an increasingly pervasive part of becoming healthy. Ask students to consider how both fitness centers and
other health organizations have become increasingly “Taylorized.” What are the benefits and drawbacks of sci-
entific management when it comes to organizing healthy practices?
Exercise 5
Refer students to the “Riverside State Hospitalcase study at the end of Chapter 3. Read through the case as a
class. Divide into groups and work on the assignments and questions provided in the text. (If there are time con-
straints, you may want groups to work on one question each.) Push students to think critically and deeply about
the situation and the issues. (This easily could be used as a journal assignment if class time is limited.)
Exercise 6
Guide students to search corporate websites to find career pages that attempt to recruit the best candidates by
including taglines containing language of self-actualization or growth. For example, Google’s online career
page simply states, “Do cool things that matter.” Zappos’s career page says, “Live to deliver wow.”
Characteristics of Early Factory Girls (2014, 3 minutes, Rated TV-PG)
(http://www.history.com/topics/industrial-revolution/videos/characteristics-of-early-factory-girls). Marisa
Tomei performs the words of a young factory girl preparing to strike during the Industrial Revolution.
Downton Abbey: Episode 1 (2010, Season 1, 67 minutes, Rated TV-PG). This critically acclaimed PBS series fo-
cuses on the daily routines of an aristocratic British family and the staff of their estate. The pilot episode introduc-
es the characters in a way that highlights organizational structures like hierarchy and classical management.
I Love Lucy: “Job Switching” (1952, Season 2, Episode 1, Rated TV-G)
(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8NPzLBSBzPI). This clip, which features Lucy and Ethel wrapping choco-
lates on the assembly line at a candy factory, offers a humorous critique of the machine metaphor and scientific
approaches to organization. It allows students to open up a conversation about the need for alternative ap-
proaches like human relations and human resources.
The Men Who Built America (2010, Duration Varies, Not Rated) (http://www.history.com/shows/men-who-
built-america). The Industrial Revolution grew with the rise of science and the view that organizations are
machines. Classical management is scientific in nature. The History Channel has produced a series of
docudramas explaining the Industrial Revolution focusing on industrialists such as Henry Ford, Andrew
Carnegie, J.P. Morgan, and John D. Rockefeller. Workers are also represented in this series. Take the related
history quiz available at http://www.history.com/shows/men-who-built-america/interactives/men-who-built-
Seinfeld: “The Soup Nazi” (1995, Season 7, Episode 6, 22 minutes, Rated TV-PG). This infamous episode can
be used to illustrate how practices (like favoritism or arbitrary decision making) give rise to the need for bu-
reaucracy. It is most useful for demonstrating and critiquing different management styles.
Something Ventured (2011, 84 minutes, Not Rated). This documentary concentrates on a handful of men who
have made decisions behind some of the biggest corporations in the world. The film addresses different man-
agement practices adopted by these individuals. It also gives students an opportunity to apply organizational
communication theory to the examples offered from these venture capitalists.
Up in the Air (2009, 109 minutes, Rated R). This movie allows students to focus on human relations and human
resources approaches to management by illustrating the life of a man who travels around the country firing peo-
ple. The movie reminds viewers that organizations are about people and relationships as opposed to “things.”
The Year They Discovered People (2012, 15 minutes, Not Rated)
(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pd8l7PRBpTw). From the AT&T Archives, this clip focuses on the
Hawthorne effect. Although the video was produced in the 1970s, it features a reunion of those who were part
of the Hawthorne studies conducted in a Western Electric plant from 1924 to 1932.
Bureaucracy Basics: Crash Course Government and Politics #15 (https://youtu.be/I8EQAnKntLs). This crash
course in bureaucracy will point out the problems, but also the benefits, of this organizational system.
Elton MayoHuman Relations Theory (http://www.mftrou.com/elton-mayo.html). This site provides infor-
mation about the Hawthorne experiments and the human relations approach to management. Direct your stu-
dents to this site for additional insight about these foundational experiments.
The Hierarchy of Needs for Project Organizations (http://www.chacocanyon.com/essays/hierarchyofneeds.
shtml). This website adapts Maslow’s hierarchy of needs more specifically to a business model. Ask your stu-
dents to view this site and comment on the changes. Do they make sense in relation to Maslow’s original mod-
The Management Approach Guaranteed to Wreck Your Best People
best-people/#2d10f0e7b116 /). This article from Forbes magazine discusses some of the downfalls of classical
approaches to management. By using the metaphor of pruning a tree, the article encourages students to consider
how rigid structures can limit human contribution to organizations.
The Mary Parker Follett Network (http://mpfollett.ning.com/). This website is a repository of the writings and
teachings of Follett.
Mary Parker Follett: The Law of the Situation (extract from The Giving of Orders, 1925)
(http://www.panarchy.org/follett/lawsituation.html). This primary source explains the human relations approach
to organizational communication.
Neoclassical Theory of Management: The Human Relations Approach (http://education-portal.com/academy/
lesson/neo-classical-theory-of-management-the-human-relations-approach.html). This site offers provides in-
formative and engaging text and animated video lessons on the human relations approach, the Hawthorne effect,
employee motivation, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, and Theories X and Y.
Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report (http://www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/). The Department of State’s yearly
report on human trafficking.
As a participant in the ongoing dialogue of organizational communication, explain the importance of
studying theories.
What is meant by “all talk is partial, partisan, and problematic”?
What are the basic assumptions of the classical management theory? What is the underlying metaphor
associated with this theory?
How does a horrific event like the Holocaust provide an example of the abuse of classical principles of
What is meant by the term particularism, and how did the new system of bureaucracy try to protect
employees from the practice of particularism? What are some of the factors that limit the true realiza-
tion of this system?
Discuss the origins of bureaucracy along with its implications for organizational communication.
What kinds of changes were happening during the Great Depression and World War II that influenced
our understanding of organizations and led to the emergence of the human relations perspective?
What were the main conclusions of the Hawthorne studies? What were the implications for organiza-
tional views?
Explain the main differences between the human relations perspective and the human resources ap-
How does the role of dialogue differ within each approach? How is it problematic to balance the crea-
tivity and constraint of dialogue within these models?
theory Anything from simple ideas to formal systems of hypotheses that aim
to explain, predict, and control. All theories share the features of be-
ing historical and metaphorical.
partial, partisan, and problematic The three Ps of historical writing. In other words, theories are in-
complete, reflect what we favor, and are based on what we currently
classical management A perspective that is represented by a collection of theories that share
the underlying metaphor of organizations modeled after efficient ma-
resistance to domination Provide different accounts of what was going on during a certain
time as well as what meanings the events had for those who partici-
pated in them.
hidden transcript Considers the stories of the less powerful as another side to the story.
scientific management A management-oriented, production-centered view of organizations
and communication that emerged from the work of Frederick Taylor.
particularism A working condition that provides little job security, pays low wag-
es, and allows the arbitrary hiring and firing of workers for reasons
such as race, religion, sex, attitude, or relationship to the boss.
bureaucracy A system of management that stresses a fixed division of labor, hier-
archy, and rules, and the separation of personal life from work life.
human relations A theoretical perspective aimed at restoring whole human beings and
quality interpersonal relationships to their rightful place in otherwise
overly rational organizations.
Hawthorne effect Popular observation in which participants worked more effectively
simply because researchers paid attention to them. The most noted
example involved increased productivity as the lighting became
human resources A perspective that considers both the total organizational climate as
well as employee participation and dialogue.
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs A hierarchical list, proposed by Abraham Maslow, explaining that
people’s basic needs for food, shelter, and belonging must be satis-
fied before they can move toward achieving their full human poten-
tial, which Maslow calls “self-actualization.”
Theory X Douglas McGregor’s term for the control-oriented, bureaucratic style
of management.
Theory Y McGregor’s more humanistic principles, which were presented as an
alternative to Theory X.
principle of supportive relationships Rensis Likert’s notion that all interactions within an organization
should support individual self-worth and importance.
What are theories, and why do we need to study them?
Describe the three P’s of historical writing as they apply to theories.
Describe the history that led to the classical theory of management.
Discuss the classical management approaches of organizations.
Employees of classical management organizations tell what kinds of narratives?
Discuss the development and basic principles of scientific management.
Explain Fayol’s theory of classical management. Describe the five elements as well as the ideas that this
theory advocated.
Discuss the idea of bureaucracy. Include the six main characteristics of this model as well as the three
main reasons why it ultimately cannot exist.
Remind students that the inadequacies of bureaucracy and the rigid ideas of classical management theo-
ry, which are still alive in many organizations today, were necessary to pave the way for alternative
forms of organizing, such as the human relations approach.
Describe the historical and cultural background to the human relations approach.
Explain how the work of Mary Parker Follett, Elton Mayo, and Chester Barnard provided a foundation
for the human relations approach in the 1930s.
Discuss the significance of the Hawthorne studies, the conclusions that followed, and the impact of finally
seeing workers as complex beings instead of machines.
Analyze the human relations approach. Describe its primary goal, ideology, and critiques.
Ask students to consider how events like the Cold War or the War on Terror might shape our thinking
regarding the human relations approach.
Discuss the basic principles of the human resources approach.
Discuss the contributions of Maslow, McGregor, and Likert as the key theorists who developed the hu-
man resources movement.
What are the limitations of the human resources approach?
Review the three theories outlined in this chapter with your students. Clarify the connections between
these theories as well as the differences that make each perspective unique for understanding organiza-
tional communication.

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