978-1319052348 Chapter 8

Document Type
Homework Help
Book Title
Organizational Communication: Balancing Creativity and Constraint 8th Edition
Angela Trethewey, Eric M. Eisenberg, Marianne LeGreco
Teams and Networks: Communication and Collaborative Work
This chapter presents an important branch of recent theorizing on organizational communication. In Chapter 8,
the concepts of collaboration, engagement, and democracy in the workplace lay the foundation for a discussion
of teams and networks. The chapter begins with Stan Deetz’s multiple-stakeholder model and concept of work-
place democracy to better illustrate how concepts such as employee engagement might work in organizations.
These concepts offer a challenge for students in the ways that they advocate alternative organizational forms.
After establishing this foundation in engagement and workplace democracy, the chapter demonstrates how the
organization of teams and networks might enable more participatory forms of work. The primary purpose of
this chapter is to illustrate how increased teamwork and multiple viewpoints will enable better forms of organi-
zation. Relatedly, the chapter concludes by considering how teamwork, collaboration, and democracy are prac-
ticed in online settings.
Describe how the multiple-stakeholder model and the concept of workplace democracy offer a useful
language to understand participation.
Illustrate the concept of employee engagement and what it means to be fully involved and enthusiastic
about your work.
Discuss the benefits and drawbacks of increased participation and workplace democracy. Offer insights
into maximizing benefits while minimizing the drawbacks.
Explain the prevalence of team-based organizations and the ways in which teams allow for increased
Describe basic and advanced types of teams.
Discuss the roles of conflict and consensus in the everyday operation of teams.
Illustrate some of the reasons that teams fail as well as how better understandings of participation might
alleviate those reasons.
Describe the features of communication networks. Explain how they are both similar to and different
from teams.
This chapter emphasizes the prevalence of increased employee engagement in the workplace. By advocating
more democratic approaches to organization, supporters of increased engagement believe that employees should
be more empowered to make decisions, share knowledge, and contribute to the overall organization of the
workplace. While this concept might excite some instructors, many students will initially resist the ideas of em-
ployee engagement and workplace democracy. When they first hear of these concepts, they dismiss them as too
time-consuming or impossible in practice. However, through careful discussion, they should begin to see some
of the benefits of democratic practice in the workplace. Some students are persuaded by the tension of living in
a society that touts democracy but fails to practice it in its businesses. Others are persuaded by the argument that
decreased participation means that other people are making important decisions for them. In order to respond to
student needs, it is important to listen to why they might resist the concept of workplace democracy. You might
also be fortunate to have a class that immediately embraces this topic. With this group, it is also important to
consider why other people might favor a more traditional, hierarchical approach to organization. Whatever the
case, you as an instructor must illustrate both the promises and perils of alternative organizational forms.
Exercise 1
Just as the principles of democracy and participation are protected by government documents such as the U.S.
Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, so too are these principles advocated in formal organization-
al documents such as training manuals and mission statements. In small groups, ask your students to create a
formal organizational document that promotes employee engagement and democratic ideals within a fictitious
organization. Within this document, ask students to identify the product or service that the organization pro-
vides, the reasons why a democratic approach would work within this organization, and at least five specific
steps that the organization will use to ensure that engagement and democratic dialogue actually occur.
Exercise 2
Part One
Separate the class into teams of four people each. Give each team a large towel or an exercise mat to stand on.
The mat should be large enough so that everyone can stand on it at the same time but not so large that they can
all move about freely. The task is for each team to turn the towel or mat completely over onto the other side.
The catch is that all team members must remain on the mat at all times, and nobody’s arms or feet can go out-
side the mat or touch the floor. Other than that, students can accomplish this task any way they want. If you
want to make the exercise even more interesting, you can impose a time limit.
Part Two
Once the teams have completed the exercise, ask each member to write a brief narrative of the experience. In
their descriptions, students may want to include how the members communicated; who played what kinds of
communication roles; what role youthe instructorplayed if there was any conflict; what kind of participa-
tion there was; and anything else they can recall about the group process. You can then randomly ask two mem-
bers of each team to read their narratives to the class. Even though they were on the same team, doing the same
exercise, it is likely that they will have very different accounts of the experience.
Exercise 3
Separate the class into small teams within a fictitious organization. Each team is being sent by the company to a
destination of their choice to participate in a team-building seminar for one week. They are allowed to choose
any destination in the world, but at the end of fifteen minutes they must give one answer. The outcome of this
exercise is not as important as the process of communication during this exercise. How were ideas for locations
generated? How were ideas excluded? Did team members engage in dialogue? Did students feel that other team
members listened to them? How was the final decision made? Was there consensus or agreement or accommo-
Exercise 4
This exercise will require you to set up the activity on one day and carry out the activity on a subsequent day.
Ask students to go out into their communities and find examples of community organizations that use teams or
democratic practices to carry out their work. Have students bring a communication artifact from these organiza-
tions, such as a brochure, employee handbook, newspaper article, or website printout. Divide students into small
groups and ask them to identify any of the key terms and ideas that appear in these documents.
Exercise 5
The prevalence of online networking and social media has put increased pressure on our students to “know”
what they can and cannot post online. This chapter provides a great opportunity for you to engage your students
in an exercise about “best practices” when it comes to constructing an online presence. Begin by having a class-
wide discussion about the argument that there is no such thing as privacy on the Internet. Once a picture, com-
ment, or status update is posted on a site such as Facebook or Twitter, no matter what your privacy settings are,
you run the risk of having that information publicized. This information can have negative repercussions as stu-
dents start applying for jobs, internships, and memberships in organizations. Following this discussion, divide
students into small groups, and ask them to construct a list of best practices or a code of conduct for posting
personal information on social networking sites.
Exercise 6
Ask students to read the “The Networked Community” case study at the end of Chapter 8. This case study is an
excellent way to take the study of organizational communication outside the workplace. As individuals or in
small groups, ask students to work through the questions for this case study. Consider both what you would do
as the concerned citizen as well as what it would take to persuade you as a city council member.
Exercise 7
The Everyday Organizational Communication box titled “Networking on Campus: Communication, Identity,
and Empowerment” provides a nice way to discuss the benefits and drawbacks of extraorganizational networks.
Individually or in small groups, students should read through this material and answer the discussion questions.
Ask students to reflect on their own extraorganizational networks and the benefits and drawbacks that participa-
tion has brought them.
Exercise 8
After students watch Too Big to Fail or The Big Short, ask them to define the term groupthink in terms of the
movie they have seen. Suggest they review the Key Word section before they comment.
Taking exercises online: Many of these suggested exercises can be made digital for those teaching hybrid or
online classes. Simply conduct discussions on your online forum, discussion boards, or course management
systems. In particular, Exercises 1, 5, 6, 7, and 8 lend themselves to this conversion. Similarly, Exercise 4 can
be conducted online if students are asked to search the websites of their college, university, club, or other organ-
ization for a communication artifact and the key ideas it expresses.
The Amazing Race (20012013, episodes approximately 43 minutes, Rated TV-PG). Any of the episodes from
this award-winning reality television show will work to illustrate concepts of collaboration and teamwork.
Capitalism: A Love StoryWorkplace Democracy and Cooperatives
(2009, minutes, Not Rated) (https://youtu.be/-VdbFzwe8fQ). A scene from Michael Moore's film Capitalism:
A Love Story. Moore asks: What if the workplace were a democracy? Moore presents two examples of
democratically managed workplaces.
Democracy in the Workplace: All about Collectives (2012, 27:32 minutes, Not Rated) (https://youtu.be/-
cyP1tR45qU). In this video, three worker-owned businesses show what it's like to work collectively, manage a
business, and deal with problems in a truly democratic way. The Cheeseboard Bakery and Cheese Shop with 18
workers, Rainbow Grocery with 150 workers, and Inkworks Press with 18 members, all located in the San
Francisco Bay Area, are successful worker-owned businesses and members of NoBAWC.
Pitch Perfect (2012, 112 minutes, Rated PG-13). This movie follows the Barden University Bellas, an all-girl a
cappella team that attempts to overcome a nauseating reputation and win the national championship. The movie
does a particularly nice job of illustrating different communication roles on the team, the influence of group-
think, and the balance of conflict and consensus.
The Social Network (2010, 120 minutes, Rated PG-13). This biopic about Mark Zuckerberg and the evolution of
Facebook provides a nice history and context for the emergence of social networking sites such as Facebook,
Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. By historicizing Facebook in this way, the film speaks to some of the previ-
ous chapters (namely Chapters 1 and 6) in a way that links those concepts to digital communication networks.
Too Big to Fail (2011. 99 minutes, Rated TV-MA). The financial crisis of 2008 was rife with groupthink. Wall
Street CEOs believed their companies were too big and profitable to fail. Portfolio managers said default swaps
on risky mortgages would guarantee high returns, and investors believed them. Managers rationalized high lev-
els of leveraging because of soaring stock prices and wide profit margins. Homeowners assumed the housing
boom would continue indefinitely, and bankers led many to get mortgages they could not afford.
Community Teamwork, Inc. (http://www.comteam.org). The mission statement of this organization is to assist
low-income individuals to become self-sufficient, to overcome poverty, and to participate in decisions that af-
fect their lives. Ask your students to view this website and chart the ways in which this organization promotes
engagement and teamwork.
2016 Employee Engagement SummitPeter Flade, Gallup (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0INDtyxAqsc).
Engage Employee sponsors this yearly event. According to their website, “Research reveals that the two most
important business challenges identified by CEOs are around their people and their customer relationships” (en-
Engage for Success (http://engageforsuccess.org/). From a UK organization, this site has information for
employers and employees to empower the workplace with employee engagement. The site says, We want
everyone working in the UK to want, and be able, to give their best each day, so that each day is a great day at
work, and that workplaces in the UK are thriving, growing and developing through the commitment, energy,
and creativity of the people that work in them.”
Mindtools: Avoiding GroupThink: Avoiding Fatal Flaws in Group Decision Making
(https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newLDR_82.htm). This website has a list of tools to help an
organization overcome groupthink.
Playworks (http://www.playworks.org). The Playworks organization was designed to provide support for ele-
mentary schools that need help organizing their physical activity. Their goal is to make recess count by encour-
aging children to play in team-based games and activities. Their website offers excellent resources about their
approach to teamwork, their training, and their overall philosophy. Ask your students to view and evaluate the
website based on the teamwork principles outlined in the chapter.
Power of Teamwork (http://play.simpletruths.com/movie/the-power-of-teamwork/). This website features a
short film inspired by the Blue Angels. This flight team epitomizes many of the ideas espoused in the chapter
regarding collaboration and teamwork, and the film does a nice job of drawing the connections.
Teamwork (http://www.twproject.com). This site offers a description, documents and videos, and a free trial of
a software program that claims to help teams work better. Ask your students to review the website, documents
and videos, and demo. Then, ask them to make a recommendation about whether the program is worth the in-
vestment for modern teams.
Teamwork Quotes and Proverbs (http://www.heartquotes.net/teamwork-quotes.html). This website offers a col-
lection of noted quotations and proverbs that relate to teamwork. The site demonstrates how teamwork has be-
come a pervasive part of Western culture. Ask your students to examine this list of quotations and comment on
the statements that are most meaningful to them.
What are the five key changes to the nature of organization that have emerged in the late twentieth cen-
What are the multiple-stakeholder model and workplace democracy? How do they clarify an under-
standing of participation?
Describe the different types of teams from basic to advanced. Include the community-engaged team in
your discussion.
What is lost when employees are not engaged in the organization?
Find examples of companies that build engagement into the fabric of the organization. How do they ac-
complish this?
What does it mean to be an engaged employee? How can workplaces create a space that allows for
maximum involvement from their employees?
Explain how team-based organizations represent an increased level of participation in organi-
What are some of the different communication roles that team members play? What are some of the
challenges that groups can face as they integrate these different roles into a cohesive and healthy team?
What are some of problems that teams face as they attempt to incorporate multiple ideas? How do the
concepts of groupthink, conflict, and consensus either add to or alleviate these problems?
What are the similarities and differences between small-group networks, emergent networks, extraor-
ganizational networks, and intraorganizational networks?
workplace democracy Stan Deetz’s ideal for participation in the workplace that includes
voices from a broader base of stakeholders.
multiple-stakeholder model A model that asserts that organizations should be concerned with the
interests of many individuals and groups and not just shareholders or
employee engagement A concept related to job satisfaction and empowerment that suggests
employees are fully involved and enthusiastic about their work.
team-based organization An organizational form in which employees tend to their individual
responsibilities and also participate in working groups.
team A working group that is comprised of employees from a variety of
functional areas within the organization.
project team A team that helps to coordinate the completion of a specific project.
matrix organization Similar to a project team, although employees report to one or more
supervisors in an effort to coordinate multiple smaller projects.
work team A group of employees responsible for an entire work process that
brings a product or service to a consumer.
quality-improvement team A team whose mission is to improve customer satisfaction, evaluate
and improve team performance, and reduce costs.
virtual team A group of people who use a variety of technological tools to work
together across time and space.
communication role Consistent and predictable patterns of interaction that develop within
a team.
task role The team member who summarizes and evaluates the team’s ideas
and progress or initiates the idea-generating process by offering new
ideas or suggestions.
maintenance role The team member whose communication seeks to relieve group ten-
sion or pressure (e.g., by telling jokes or by changing the subject of a
conversation) or to create harmony in the group.
self-centered role The team member who seeks to dominate the group’s discussions
and work or to divert the group’s attention from serious issues by
making them seem unimportant.
prince role The team member who fancies him- or herself to be a brilliant politi-
cal strategist and sees the world as a political entity.
facilitator role The team member who focuses exclusively on group process (e.g.,
following an agenda and maintaining consensus in decision making)
for the benefit of the team, while refraining from substantive com-
ments on issues.
norm An informal rule that sets boundaries between acceptable and unac-
ceptable practices in a group.
groupthink A phenomenon that emerges when team members go along with,
rather than critically evaluate, the group’s ideas.
conflict An interaction in which individuals feel threatened by oppositional
goals and values that they perceive within the group.
consensus An interaction in which all members perceive that their views have
received adequate attention. Consensus does not necessarily mean
finding an outcome that all members can agree upon.
team learning When members of the team align and begin to function as a whole,
the team begins to build a shared understanding.
communication network A group of individuals who communicate regularly.
small-group communication network A group of five people who communicate regularly.
emergent communication network A group that surfaces from both formal and informal communication
among people who work together.
extraorganizational network A group of individuals outside the workplace who offer a support
system both within and without the organization.
communication networks role The location an individual occupies in the flow of interaction.
interorganizational communication An enduring transaction, flow, and linkage that occurs among or
network between organizations.
What does it mean to be part of a democratic organization? Ask your students to consider how employee
voices are represented and incorporated into practices such as decision making and information sharing.
What is a team-based organization?
How do team-based organizations differ from bureaucratic forms of organizing?
Discuss the importance of communication in the development processes of groups and teams. Be sure to
cover the five main elements of team interaction: team roles, norms, decision-making processes, man-
agement of conflict and consensus, and cultural diversity.
Explain team learning, and discuss the importance of this process.
Why might organizations retreat from team-based approaches? Why might teams fail?
Define communication networks. Discuss the two main types of communication networks.
Discuss the focus on patterns of interaction, communication roles, and areas of communication content
within emergent communication networks.
What are interorganizational communication networks? What are the different kinds of linkages
What is the role of creativity and constraint in teams and networks?
Summarize the role of collaboration in organizational communication. Draw connections with your stu-
dents between the concepts of democracy, participation, teams, and networks. Encourage your stu-
dents to reflect upon the ways in which their everyday lives are shaped by participating in
teams and networks.

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