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Annals of the International Communication Association
ISSN: 2380-8985 (Print) 2380-8977 (Online) Journal homepage: http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/rica20
Managerial Communication and Work Perception
Terrance L. Albrecht
To cite this article: Terrance L. Albrecht (1984) Managerial Communication and Work
Perception, Annals of the International Communication Association, 8:1, 538-557, DOI:
10.1080/23808985.1984.11678589
To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/23808985.1984.11678589
Published online: 18 May 2016.
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v e ORGAN IZATIONAL
COMMUNICATION
ORGANIZATIONAL COMMUNICATION
20- Managerial Communication and
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Work Perception
TERRANCE L. ALBRECHT
University of Washington
T is an accepted notion that an individual's cognitive orientation is
a function of the extent to which societal structure regulates exposure to varied kinds of experiences (Holzner, 1972; Parks, 1977).
Managers in the organization world are no different; the ways they view their
jobs and see themselves are shaped in large part by their positions in the
social system. Their social participation roles facilitate or impede what they
can do, whom they can contact, and what they can learn.
As in other social aggregates, a position in the social structure of the
workplace emerges from the pattern of one's communication transactions
with others. A social order is established based on the configuration of
strong and weak links among members. The emergent networks of information flow have consequences not only for the cognitive processes of the
individuals involved but also for power and influence, politics, members'
perceptions of the social climate, and the overall functioning effectiveness of
the organization (Albrecht, 1979; Danowski, 1980; Farace, Taylor, & Stewart, 1978; Goldhaber, Dennis, Richetto, & Wiio, 1979; Jablin, 1980; Thurman, 1979).
Although the notion of structure and the impact on individual perceptions is important for understanding motivation and behavior, it has been
examined only a few times in research on organizational communication
(Jablin, 1982). Recent work has generally concerned the relation between
network integration and attitude formation. Albrecht (1979) found that cognitive maps representing work climate attitudes were a function of members' communication network roles in a unionized manufacturing plant.
Taylor (1977) studied the relation between degree of attitude change and
I
Correspondence and requests for reprints: Terrance L. Albrecht. Department of Speech
Communication DL-15, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195.
538
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Managerial Communication
539
network roles of administrators in a statewide educational setting. His results
supported hypotheses predicting rate of acceptance of an 00 effort based
on message impact and network centrality.
The present study was based on a theoretical framework integrating assumptions from uncertainty reduction theory (Berger & Calabrese, 1975),
force aggregation theory (Gillham & Woelfel, 1977), and communication
structure (Farace, Mange, & Russell, 1977; Rogers & Kincaid, 1981). The
purpose was to investigate how managers viewed themselves and their jobs in
terms of relational and motivational factors in the organization. Following the
mounting empirical evidence for cognitive and behavioral differences among
communication role incumbents (e.g., Albrecht, 1979; MacOonald, 1976;
Schwartz & Jacobson, 1977; Taylor, 1977), we hypothesized specific ways in
which perceptions would differ for those in linking or central roles versus others. This research extended previous studies in two ways: (1) The focus was
specifically on the relation between communication behavior and the very
personal views managers had about their self-concepts and their jobs; and (2)
unlike most previous network and perception studies that have been based
on data only from a single time point (e.g., Albrecht, 1979; MacDonald, 1976;
Moch, 1980; Roberts & O'Reilly, 1979), this research design was conducted
over three points in time. The intent was to examine whether differences in
personal perceptions held across time, and how reports of those perceptions
fluctuated given highly sensitive measurement techniques.
THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK AND HYPOTHESES
Managers in organizations communicate so as to reduce uncertainty and
ambiguity (Farace et al., 1978; Weick, 1979),. thereby enabling them to gain
some control over their environments. Whether a manager achieves control is
determined by several things, including his or her access to information, and
the quality of relations with subordinates and superiors. Hence the outcomes
of moves to reduce uncertainty and ambiguity are colored by the manager's
location and level of interaction with others. Meaning for significant aspects of
the organization, as well as one's sense of self and work role, are negotiated
products of the range and quantity of interaction with others.
The central notion of force aggregation theory is that attitudes about
objects develop at a level commensurate with the rate of acquisition of information about those "objects," such as an issue, a product, the organization,
or the self (Albrecht, 1979; Barnett, Serota, & Taylor, 1976; Taylor, Farace,
& Monge, 1976). Information is acquired through interactions with others;
through this process objects come to develop definition and meaning, which
is then shared among members (Taylor et al., 1976).
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ORGANIZATIONAL COMMUNICATION
Specifically, force aggregation theory, an outgrowth of symbolic interaction notions (Woelfel & HaIler, 1971) and learning theory (Burgoon, Burgoon, Miller, & Sunnafrank, 1981), incorporates hypotheses where attitudes are a product of the amount of weighted information organization
members receive about objects they perceive as salient in the organization.
Information is weighted by the number of messages received, whether the
messages are positive or negative, and the level of significance of the source
(Gillham & Woelfel, 1977; Taylor, 1977).
For managers at work, perceptions about themselves and their jobs
have been developed and reinforced by many messages over a long period.
Managers at all levels accumulate information about themselves by working
and interacting with others in the organization; the effect is an impact, a
shaping of one's self-concept, and perceptions about success on the job.
These are developed through positive or negative communication over
time with significant others and acquaintances.
Further, the assumption of most force aggregation studies (e.g., Albrecht, 1979) has been that perceptions about objects (such as a product, a
candidate, or an innovation) will be positive to the extent that individuals
perceive them to be associated with themselves or "close" to their selfconcepts in their psychological distance judgments. "Positive" in this sense
means they will be disposed to "buy" the product, "vote" for the candidate,
or "adopt" the innovation (Albrecht, 1979; see Barnett et al., 1976; Taylor et
al., 1976; Taylor, 1977). For managers in the organization, minimal psychological distance between themselves and their views of their jobs (and their
coworkers, bosses, salaries, and so on) reflect strong self-definitions and
imprinted involvement with work. For a manager to lack that identification
with the job and the organization reflects what Westley (1979) has argued: a
psychological detachment-in short, alienation.
Given that messages frame attitudes and perceptions, it is important to
understand the nature of a manager's access to them. Communication
structure refers to the pathways of information flow that link organization
members (Farace et al., 1977). One's position or communication role in the
network represents the frequency of interaction, integration in the system,
and degree of diversity among contacts.
As noted previously in this chapter, different levels of network integration have been related to differences in attitudes and motivation (e. g., Albrecht, 1979; Albrecht, Irey, & Mundy, 1982; Moch, 1980; Roberts &
O'Reilly, 1979; Taylor, 1977). Reynolds and Johnson (1982) reviewed selected findings on differences between liaisons and nonliaisons and found
that liaisons were unique in terms of motivational and relational factors. Following the line of work advanced in these previous studies, the present research was designed to further explore such motivation and relationship
Managerial Communication
541
factors as related to fluctuations in managers' perceptions of themselves and
their jobs. The hypotheses were based on predictions of differences in cognitive orientation between managers identified as linkers (those in bridge or
liaison communication roles) and nonlinkers (group members and other,
more isolated roles).
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Hypotheses
At the motivational level, it was expected that linkers would identify
more with their jobs because they had more positive orientations to their
roles in the system. This was consistent with previous findings. Albrecht
(1979) found that liaisons and bridges identified more with their jobs and
that their concepts of their jobs were at the center of their cognitive MDS
spaces. She reasoned that key linkers would see themselves as more central, given that they had access and influence in the communication system.
In contrast, nonlinkers would have less involvement in the communication
flow and would encounter fewer messages to shape their perceptions. They
viewed little about the organization in ways they could relate to themselves
and their jobs. Roberts and 0' Reilly (1979) found that participants in a communication network of navy personnel had more job satisfaction than did
nonparticipants. Finally, MacDonald (1976) found that liaisons were more
satisfied with their jobs and the communication system (Reynolds & Johnson, 1982).
The hypotheses are as follows:
HI: The magnitude of the psychological distance between the concepts of "self"
and "my job" will be less for Iinkers than for nonlinkers.
H2 : The association between the concepts of "self" and "my job" reported by
Iinkers will become closer over time than will the association reported by
nonlinkers.
Given that linkers were expected to identify more with their jobs and
generally be more satisfied with their work, it was also hypothesized that
they would attribute more positive concepts in connection to themselves
and their jobs than would nonlinkers. It was expected that these would be
perceived as an increasingly closer set of associations over time:
H3: Linkers will associate their jobs and their concepts of themselves more with
positive concepts than will nonlinkers.
H4: Linkers will report closer associations over time between the concepts in Hypothesis 3 than will nonlinkers.
At the relational level, it was expected that linkers would perceive less
nistance between themselves and their coworkers and superiors because of
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ORGANIZATIONAL COMMUNICATION
the range and frequency of their communication behavior. Amend (1971)
found that liaisons had greater peer communication contact and network
centrality. Hence liaisons likely perceive closer relationships between themselves and others because of greater contact. And Albrecht (1979) found
that those in linking positions perceived less psychological distance between themselves and the plant foremen and general management. What
this means is that the volume of interactions functions to reduce linkers'
levels of uncertainty toward others, which in turn facilitates continued interaction. As Parks and Adelman (1983) noted, the reduction of uncertainty
motivates further interaction by increasing levels of affiliation between persons.
H5: The magnitude of the psychological distance between the concepts of "my
job" and "my boss" and between "my jab" and "my caworkers" will be less
far linkers than for nanlinkers.
H6: The magnitude of the psychological distance between the concepts of "me"
and "my boss" and between "me" and "my coworkers" will be less for linkers than for nonlinkers.
H7: The distances reported by linkers between the concepts noted in Hypotheses
5 and 6 will decrease more over time than will the distances reported by
nonlinkers.
In understanding the perceptions linkers have about their relationships
in organizations, it was necessary to consider the nature of their reported
communication contacts-the strength and/ or frequency and range of contact with others. This helps construe the level of certainty linkers have over
their personal communication environments. Investigating the organization
system from a communication network perspective means that the phenomena under study are the retrospective accounts of people about their
communication behavior (Albrecht & Ropp, 1982), a reflection of the assumptions they hold about their relationships and relative positions in the
organization. These assumptions vary across organization members systemwide, to the extent that there can be much disagreement among respondents as to the nature of their links to others. That is, people may disagree
not only on the number of times they communicated during a given period
(strength of the link) but also on whether the link even existed at all.
Hence we explored how linkers and nonlinkers differed in their perceptions of their communication patterns, as well as how others in the system
reported interacting with them. High agreement with others over the nature
of one's interactions indicates a level of perceived personal control and certainty over actions. Schwartz and Jacobson (1977) found that liaisons had
higher levels of reciprocity (agreement over the existence of a link) than did
nonliaisons. Given that Amend (1971) found that liaisons had more control
over the general flow of information in the organization, it was expected that
543
Managerial Communication
tinkers would have greater awareness of the scope and volume of their interactions; that they had greater certainty about the environments in which
they communicated. They would be less likely to err in the estimates they
reported for the range and frequency of their contacts.
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'H8 : Linkers will have a higher level of reciprocated contact and less discrepancy
in the volume of their perceived interactions with others than will nonlinkers.
H9 : The reciprocity and discrepancy levels in Hypothesis 8 will remain stable
over time more for tinkers than for nonlinkers.
METHOD
The organization used for the research site was an electronics manufacturing plant in the Southwest. Respondents were all salaried personnel (n =
65). The number of respondents at each time point were (I) 89 percent, (2)
80 percent, and (3) 75 percent. Of the respondents at time 1, 65 percent
were male. The age range was 19-58 (mean = 38, s = 8.9). The average
length of time employed in the facility was 3.02 years (s = 1.75). There were
17 percent considered upper-level managers, 20 percent middle-level, and
63 percent lower-level. Nearly all were white. Atotal of 48 percent had completed one year of college; 51 percent had finished college.
Measurements. Job and self-perceptions were measured using a
paired comparison technique developed in attitude measurement (Gillham
& Woelfel, 1977; Woelfel & Fink, 1980). The form of measurement is a set of
paired comparisons among concepts and attributes salient to organization
members and native to their shared code system. These words were identified through content analysis of personal interview data collected just prior
to the main study with a random sample of 20 percent of the salaried individuals. Respondents were asked open-ended questions concerning their
descriptions of the work environment, their jobs, superiors, coworkers, and
so on. Concepts and attributes mentioned most frequently across respondents were chosen for the final study instrument and included "teamwork,"
"knowledgeable," "effectiveness," "pressures," "problems," "frustration,"
"my salary," and "my boss." Concepts added as part of the research purpose were "me," "my job," and "coworkers" (see also Albrecht, 1979;
Taylor, 1977).
Each word was paired with the concepts "me" and "my job." The items
for the final instrument were the paired comparisons; respondents were
asked to indicate the degree of perceived similarity between the concepts of
each pair by making distance judgments. The judgments were made using
open-ended ratio scales (Gillham & Woelfel, 1977).
Communication structure properties and communication role were as-
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ORGANIZATIONAL COMMUNICATION
sessed using network-analytic techniques developed by Richards (1975).
The work network among salaried persons was measured by asking respondents how often they had talked with other personnel during the previous
week about their jobs, work in the plant, or the general day-to'-day business
of the company. The roster method (Rogers & Kincaid, 1981) was used to
facilitate memory recall for respondents. Names of all respondents were
listed on the instrument in alphabetical order.
The data were analyzed using program NEGOPY (Richards, 1975) to
determine each member's communication role. Those managers classified
by the program as bridges or liaisons were coded as communication linkers.
Group members, dyad members, and isolates were coded as nonlinkers.
Values for additional communication properties used for the reciprocity and discrepancy analyses were obtained from the NEGOPY results.
Reciprocity. This variable referred to the extent to which two people
independently agreed they had a communication link (Farace et al., 1977;
Richards, 1975). If a respondent reported that communication with an individual took place but the individual did not report the occurrence, the link
was considered unreciprocated. Level of reciprocity was calculated for each
respondent based on the ratio of reported reciprocated links to total links
(reciprocated and unreciprocated).
Link strength Following Richards (1975) and Farace et al. (1977), link
strength was measured by reports of communication frequency. Although
two managers may have agreed they had a communication link, they mayor
may not have agreed on the number of times they communicated during the
specified period. Hence, "outgoing reciprocated link strength" referred to the
respondent's total report of frequency of communication with all of his or her
reciprocated contacts. "Incoming reciprocated link strength" was the total frequency of interaction that all the respondent's contacts reported they had with
him or her. A similar analysis was made of the respondent's unreciprocated
links. "Outgoing unreciprocated link strength" referred to the total number of
interactions reported by the respondent with others who did not report any
connection to him or her. "Incoming unreciprocated link strength" was a
measure of all reports of communication frequency with the respondent (who
did not acknowledge that such transactions occurred). Finally, discrepancy
totals were calculated to reflect the sum of differences between the repondent's record of reciprocated and unreciprocated interactions and the number
of interactions reported by those others with the individual.
Data collection. Data were collected in two stages: (1) telephone interviews and (2) distribution of final study questionnaires at three points in
time. The study was a three-wave panel design with one-week intervals between data collection time points. The first collection was held formally on
plant premises. Verbal instructions were given to small groups of mixed-
545
Managerial Communication
level managers participating in the study. Assurances were made regarding
confidentiality of the data for each individual. For the second and third
waves of data collection, respondents were asked to complete the forms on
their own time during each of the two designated 24-hour periods. The
company was given a final report of summary trends in the data.
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RESULTS
Communication Role Analysis
Of the 58 respondents at time 1, 22 were identified as tinkers. Of those,
32 percent were upper-level managers, 23 percent were middle-level, and
45 percent were lower-level personnel. Thirty-six persons were identified as
nonlinkers in the organization. About 11 percent were upper-level managers, 19 percent middle-level, and approximately 69 percent were lowerlevel personnel. The two groups did not differ markedly in terms of representation of management level. Results of a chi-square test showed that the
two distributions of management levels were not significantly different (X 2 =
4.42, p > .05, df = 2).
Differences in Motivational Factors
Hypotheses 1 and 2. In general, linkers tended to identify more closely
with their jobs than did nonlinkers. They consistently reported lower mean
interpoint distances (Tables 20.1 and 20.2) and were less variable in their
perceptions (see the lower standard deviations). The difference in perceptions was significant across time (Table 20.3).
Hypothesis 2 was also supported, in that linkers tended to perceive that
the concepts of self and job moved closer over time. In contrast, the pattern
for nonlinkers remained relatively steady; managers who were nonlinkers. at
time 3 perceived their jobs more than three times as distant from themselves
as did linkers.
Hypotheses 3 and 4. The results show some support for Hypothesis 3.
In contrast to those in nonlinking positions, tinkers tended to associate their
jobs with the notions of teamwork and effectiveness; they also saw more of a
parallel between their jobs and their salaries. They clearly characterized
themselves as knowledgeable. Linkers consistently reported the least association with feelings of frustration, a notion that moved further away in
space over time. Interestingly, although linkers saw closer associations with
positive factors, they also saw their jobs more in terms of problems and
pressures than did nonlinkers. They also reported a closer tie to problems at
546
ORGANIZATIONAL COMMUNICATION
Table 20.1
Descriptive Statistics for Job Concept Pairs
Concept Pairs
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My job and my boss
linkers
nonlinkers
x
Time 1
(5)
x
Time 2
(5)
x
Time 3
(5)
32.73 (27.93)
33.49 (32.05)
25.25 (17.05)
22.74 (23.55)
21.05 (16.72)
26.20 (27.60)
My job and pressu res
31.82 (25.89)
linkers
35.24 (30.57)
nonlinkers
34.05 (29.01)
38.39 (26.03)
32.11 (27.55)
29.50 (26.17)
My job and my salary
linkers
26.59 (29.70)
nonlinkers
33.68 (29.80)
35.71 (29.64)
45.65 (34.25)
36.39 (36.70)
42.67 (34.56)
My job and problems
linkers
25.62 (29.09)
nonlinkers
33.76 (31.80)
27.14 (26.25)
35.32 (23.24)
22.63 (25.46)
29.67 (27.67)
My job and coworkers
25.91 (24.53)
Iinkers
nonlinkers
28.65 (29.56)
28.25 (23.91 )
26.94 (25.19)
28.42 (24.84)
31.50 (29.42)
My job and teamwork
17.05 (18.62)
linkers
nonlinkers
23.28 (30.74)
18.57 (16.97)
28.91 (27.23)
20.26 (20.85)
25.00 (21.81)
My job and effectiveness
15.91 (14.93)
linkers
22.36 (26.39)
nonlinkers
19.52 (17.24)
22.58 (24.66)
15.79 (15.21)
25.50 (29.46)
My job and me
linkers
nonlinkers
8.81 (11.50)
19.36 (24.79)
6.32 (12.00)
20.50 (28.20)
15.00 (20.18)
22.32 (30.57)
a personal level than did the nonlinkers at time 1 (though this did not hold
stable across time points 2 and 3).
The results generally did not support Hypothesis 4. Cootrary to expectation, tinkers did not tend to perceive a steadily closer association between
themselves and their jobs with the more positive concepts. The only relationship where this occurred was with an increased self-characterization of
being knowledgeable.
Differences in Relational Factors
Hypotheses 5, 6, and 7. There was little consistent support for Hypotheses 5 and 6. Linkers and nonlinkers did not differ consistently in their
perceptions of their relationships with bosses and coworkers. Although the
547
Managerial Communication
Table 20.2
Descriptive Statistics for Self-Concept Pairs
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Concept Pairs
x
Time 1
x
(s)
Time 3
Time 2
(s)
x
(s)
Frustration and me
Iinkers
nonlinkers
50.23
45.78
(31.45)
(31.92)
74.29 (114.87)
44.65 (31.92)
Problems and me
linkers
nonlinkers
37.50
41.54
(32.98)
(36.96)
42.86
35.32
(35.73)
(27.02)
39.17
36.70
(33.97)
(31.97)
My boss and me
linkers
nonlinkers
29.32
30.54
(26.43)
(33.90)
26.75
28.55
(21.42)
(27.73)
19.21
33.00
(15.12)
(33.67)
Knowledgeable and me
21.36
linkers
26.08
nonlinkers
(23.96)
(28.41 )
15.43
26.94
(19.76)
(26.10)
12.50
27.33
(13.20)
(30.65)
Coworkers and me
linkers
nonlinkers
16.14
28.54
(14.22)
(31.71 )
26.43
26.94
(28.07)
(28.97)
18.16
31.00
(16.18)
(32.28)
My job and me
linkers
nonlinkers
15.00
22.32
(20.18)
(30.57)
8.81
19.36
(11.50)
(24.79)
6.32
20.50
(12.00)
(28.20)
102.63 (160.90)
51.50 (32.59)
Table 20.3
t-Test Results for Differences Between Communication Roles
for All Concept Pairs Over Time (one-tailed tests)
Concept Pa;rs
df
Time 1
t
df
My job and my boss
My job and pressures
My job and my salary
My job and problems
My job and coworkers
My job and teamwork
My job and effectiveness
My joband me
Frustration and me
Problems and me
My boss and me
Knowledgeable and me
Coworkers and me
57 0.51
57 2.45**
57 4.83***
57 5.41 ***
57 1.40
57 4.87***
57 6.09***
57 5.72***
57 2.84***
57 2.34**
57 0.82
57 3.63***
57 10.20***
49
50
50
50
50
50
50
50
50
50
49
50
50
*p < .05; up < .025; ***p < .005.
Time 2
t
2.15**
2.84***
5.59***
5.96***
0.97
8.21 ***
2.59**
9.82***
1.33
4.29***
1.28
8.96***
0.32
Time 3
df
t
47 3.80***
47 1.64
46 2.90***
47 4.47***
48 1.94*
47 3.75***
47 6.99***
47 11.02***
47 1.58
46 1.23
47 8.90***
46 10.30***
48 8.61 ***
548
ORGANIZATIONAL COMMUNICATION
50
45
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40
Pressures
35
My salary
Problems
My boss
My boss
30
Pressures
Coworkers
My salary
25
Problems
Coworkers
20
Teamwork
Teamwork
Me
~
EtfeCIiVeness/
15
'"
Me
10
5
My job
(Linkers)
Time 1
Figure 20.1.
My job
My job
Time 2
Time 3
My job
My job
(Nonlinkers)
Time 1
Time 2
My job
Time 3
Differences in job perceptions between linkers and nonlinkers across
three points in time.
association between themselves and their coworkers was closer for linkers
than for nonlinkers, it was not significant at time 2.
The findings did provide some evidence for the prediction in Hypothesis 7 that linkers would report increased identification with others over time.
This was not true for their perceptions of their coworkers, but the interpoint
distances between self and job with the boss moved increasingly closer
across the time points.
549
Managerial Communication
/
50
Frustration
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45
Frustration
---_-JI'
40
Problems
35
30
~oo.s~
C.W.'kers~
My boss
25
Knowledgeable
My job
20
Coworkers
15
My job
10
5
Me
(Linkers)
Time 1
Figure 20.2.
Me
Time 2
Me
Me
Me
(Nonlinkers)
Time 3 Time 1
Time 2
Me
Time 3
Differences in self-perceptions between linkers and nonlinkers across
three points in time.
Summary of paired comparisons. The ways in which linkers differed
from nonlinkers are better depicted by a visual representation of the average
distances reported. Figures 20.1 and 20.2 are comparisons of the approximate mean interpoint distances between the concept pairs tested in Hypotheses 1-7.
ORGANQAnONALCOMMUN~AnON
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550
As shown in Figure 20.1, linkers associated their jobs most closely with
themselves and the characteristics of being effective and the spirit of teamwork. This pattern held strongly across all three times measured. In contrast,
although Iinkers associated their jobs most with themselves, and effectiveness and teamwork, these notions were psychologically more distant in their
frames of reference. Further, it was interesting that the notions of being effective and working as a team tended to move further away over time. Similarly, while linkers felt a notably increased sense of being knowledgeable,
nonlinkers did not have that level of self-perception. It was also interesting
that whereas linkers perceived their bosses to come closer to their concepts
of self and job over the three time points, nonlinkers showed much more
fluctuation in their patterns. And although both groups perceived increased
incongruency between their jobs and their salaries, this was a greater distance for nonlinkers.
Finally, there was considerable fluctuation in the perceptions reported
by both linkers and nonlinkers over time. Interwave correlations of responses (Table 20.4) show that the groups were steadiest between their
time 2 and time 3 judgments.
Table 20.4
Stability Analysis of Association Judgments for All Concept Pairs a
Concept Pairs
Lb
'12
My job and my boss
.24
My job and pressures .51
My job and my salary .50*
My job and problems .12
My job and
coworkers
.59**
My job and teamwork .39
My job and
effectiveness
.07
-.01
My job and me
Frustration and me
.28
Problems and me
.42
My boss and me
.10
Knowledgeable
and me
.54*
Coworkers and me
.14
r13
r13
NL c
L
NL
L
NL
.66***
.33
.71 ***
.26
.64**
.71 ***
.79***
.81 ***
.87***
.53**
.81 ***
.68***
.18
.38
.72***
.26
.39*
.37*
.58***
.22
.46**
.30
.64**
.57**
.90***
.66***
.68*** .28
.34
.33
.35*
.44*
.42*
.26
.58***
.79***
.64**
.66**
.93***
.63**
.72***
.71 ***
.70***
.14
.63***
.18
.17
.17
.30
.02
.73***
.44*
.51**
.12
.55**
.49**
.28
.48*
.35*
.82*** .83***
.14
.19
.09
a. Correlations are based on data obtained over time for waves 1, 2, and 3.
b. L = linkers.
c. NL = nonlinkers.
*p < .05; **p < .01; ***p < .001.
045**
551
Managerial Communication
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Table 20.5
Descriptive Statistics for Network Variables
Time 1
Time 3
Time 2
Variable
x
Reci procity level
linkers
nonlinkers
0.47 (0.11 )
0.38 (0.13)
0.45 (0.11)
0.39 (0.10)
0.45 (0.11)
0.41 (0.19)
Outgoing reciprocated link strength
linkers
nonlinkers
224.59 (179.11 )
66.32 (88.20)
165.86 (123.15)
91.04 (103.79)
128.44 (99.02)
78.69 (80.57)
Incoming reciprocated link strength
Iinkers
nonlinkers
181.23 (96.39)
93.88 (58.66)
147.10 (80.22)
97.00 (48.12)
120.17 (70.62)
82.31 (49.38)
86.05 (62.17)
30.09 (34.67)
64.38 (37.31)
33.71 (33.84)
52.00 (40.58)
22.42 (22.85)
18.32 (19.32)
48.06 (56.43)
20.55 (20.81)
29.00 (25.11)
21.14 (34.25)
24.36 (23.99)
113.90 (90.27)
93.61 (75.74)
85.83 (64.68)
65.27 (58.18)
Outgoing unreciprocated link strength
Iinkers
nonlinkers
Incoming unreciprocated link strength
linkers
nonlinkers
(5)
Discrepancyof reported
link strengths
linkers
131.10 (104.20)
nonlinkers
79.06 (77.38)
X
(s)
X
(s)
Hypotheses 8 and 9. The results showed that tinkers had a higher level
of reciprocity in their relationships, although this was not significantly higher
than the levels for nonlinkers at times 2 and 3 (see Tables 20.5 and 20.6).
The level was, however, more stable over time for linkers than for nontinkers (Le., time 1 and time 2 correlations: z = 7.31, p < .05; time 1 and
time 3 correlations: z = 5.13, p < .05). See Table 20.7.
However, there was no support for the hypothesis that linkers would
have a generally lower level of discrepancy in their perceptions of the volume of contacts they had with others. They did have a mean discrepancy
rate consistently higher than the one for nonlinkers, but the difference was
significant only at time 1. It is noteworthy that the discrepancy levels for
nonlinkers reflected more unstable perceptions about their communication
over the duration.
An additional breakdown and analysis of the data provided several in-
552
ORGANIZATIONAL COMMUNICATION
Table 20.6
t-Test Results for Differences BetvJeen Communication Roles for
Network Variables Over Time (one-tailed tests)
Time 2
df
t
Time 3
t
df
3.00**
47
0.67
42
0.80
54
4.46**
47
2.30*
42
2.11*
54
4.28**
47
2.72**
42
2.09*
Outgoing unreciprocated
54
link strength
4.38**
47
3.00**
42
3.07**
Incoming un reciprocated
link strength
54
2.42**
47
1.25
42
0.37
Discrepancy of reported
link strengths
54
2.14*
47
0.85
42
1.10
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Time 1
Variables
df
t
Reciprocity level
54
Outgoing reciprocated
Iin k strength
Incoming reciprocated
link strength
*p < .025; **p < .005.
Table 20.7
Stability Analysis of Communication Linkage Patterns
(work network)a
'12
Va,iable
Lb
'23
NL C
L
NL
L
'13
NL
Reciprocity level
.78**
.30
.62**
.s5*""
.72**
.42*
Outgoing reciprocated link strength
.74**
.32
.86**
.70**
.68**
.63**
Incoming reciprocated link strength
.72**
.28
.94**
.66**
.74** -.10
Outgoing unreciprocated link strength
.66**
.52**
.56**
.51**
.44*
Incoming unrecipro·
cated link strength
.31
.61**
.06
.30
.10
.88**
.38*
Discrepancy of reported
link strengths
.79**
-.02
.43*
a. Correlations are based on network data obtained overtime from waves 1,2, and 3.
b. L = linkers.
c. NL = nonlinkers.
*p < ,,025; **p < .005.
.37*
.02
.25
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Managerial Communication
553
teresting trends. Linkers tended to report significantly greater link strength
for their reciprocated and unreciprocated contacts than did nonlinkers.
They also had contacts who reported stronger relationships with them than
did the nonlinkers' contacts, and they were fairly stable levels. The most
unstable findings were the reports of incoming unreciprocated link
strengths, which could be interpreted as the most random data given.
Finally, we found that in comparing the reports on the strengths of contact, linkers continually p~rceived more interactions with their reciprocated
and unreciprocated contacts than those people reported having with them.
In a sense, they overreported rather than underreported their communication frequency. This finding was not significant in every case, but it was a
consistent trend. Conversely, nonlinkers did not report the levels of contact
with others that those people reported with them. The difference was not
significant, but nonlinkers did tend to underreport rather than overreport
their interactions.
DISCUSSION AND IMPLICATIONS
Glazer and Moynihan suggested in their book Beyond the Melting Pot
(1963) that in America, you are what you do for a living. This is particularly
true for those in a culture where values center on success and "getting
ahead" as important to the purpose of one's life. So much of what we do for
work is tied up with our self-concepts; self-definition is often a consequence
of the nature of our jobs. It is in work and the workplace that we receive
many messages about who we are as contributors, what we are capable of
doing, and how well.
Managers are certainly individuals whose concepts of self are especially
a function of their work. An important reason is that good management is
often related to many personal (as well as task or expertise) factors such as
skills in persuasion, impression management, information processing, and
political tact. We found in this study that identification with work was particularlya function of one's position in the network of communication patterns
that exist in the organization.
Our findings extended earlier research on these issues by demonstrating that over repeated measurements, the reports of those in potentially
powerful linking roles in the social order saw increased congruency between
who they were as people and who they were as managers. That the concepts of self and job moved closer together over time dramatized the strong
identification with work held by linkers, unlike others with more restricted
interaction patterns.
This was certainly not a surprising result. Linkers in the organization
have tremendous potential access to diverse communication channels; they
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554
ORGANIZATIONAL COMMUNICATION
are generally more active and involved in the workplace than are others.
They often emerge as people who are influential and have control over the
direction of the decisions that are made. From a force aggregation standpoint, their intense activity easily brings them many messages of a selfdefining nature, messages that help them see themselves in terms of their
jobs. Of course, if these messages enable these same people to see themselves as knowledgeable, part of a team effort, and effective, that is an important bonus.
Contrary to expectation, this study did not find that linkers had any
greater cognitive orientation toward their coworkers and bosses than did
others in the organization. This was probably because the linkers selected in
this study were from the job network, where the sense of affiliation is likely
tempered by strong task orientation and competition. Perhaps the linkers
identified in a more social-personal network might reveal a closer association pattern.
But is was useful to find also that tinkers did not have to have a close
cognitive association with others to perceive a stronger sense of teamwork.
This may demonstrate that it is the work of the company that is the salient
objective first, and sheer relational activity comes second. And it was interesting that over time, the concept of "my boss" moved closer and closer to
the idea of self and job for linkers but showed a highly fluctuating movement
for nonlinkers. This may be due to the need linkers have to reduce their
ambivalence or uncertainty toward their bosses in such a way that enables
them to accomplish tasks. Communication with superiors likely has a direct
effect on linkers' perceptions, one that is picked up readily with this form of
measurement. In contrast, nonlinkers may have more distance because of
less interaction with higher-ups and more uncertainty toward those roles.
The data showed that linkers were not without problems and pressures,
however. Clearly, involvement and personal investment in the uncertain
business world is stress producing, as are linkers' diverse patterns of interactions (Albrecht et al., 1982). Linkers are no more immune to problems at a
personal level than are others; they are probably more vulnerable given
their high internalization of the job. This points out a double bind of the
linking role. Strong cognitive orientation to one's work means that success,
as well as difficulties, is going to have its effects. However, linkers are also
able to see themselves with more positive attributes that may serve as a
buffer to the stress. Nonlinkers, on the other hand, identify less with the job
and are thus able to achieve more distance from pressures and problems at a
personal level. However, they perceive less in terms of rewards associated
with profeSSional life. Based on these data, it is clear that there are costs and
benefits to be borne in either set of roles.
555
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Managerial Communication
A final distinguishing feature of linkers and nonlinkers is the way they
perceive their communication environments. Linkers had a slightly higher
level of agreement with others over contact, which reflected more of an
awareness and monitoring in their relationships with others. However, in
both reciprocated and unreciprocated contacts, they perceived that substantially more interactions took place with others than with those individuals acknowledged having with them. This is not a case of who was right in
their reports of whether the interactions occurred; rather, it is an issue of
perception about one's communication in the organization: the salience,
concern and sensitivity one has to those behaviors, perhaps even to the
point of exaggeration. It is likely that linkers attach more of a premium to the
act of communication than do nonlinkers, as a critical function of production
processes. Nonlinkers had the converse pattern in their data: They generally
did not report having had as many interactions as others reported having
with them. This type of discrepancy reflects less communication awareness
among managers who occupy nonlinking roles. Their vision of the organizqtion and their behavior in it may be colored by their more restricted interactions. They are more likely to discount the worth of many of their interactions, or not understand their potential effects on others. In short, they could
be missing a sense of their own importance, possibly not thinking of communication as a strategic means the way linkers might. Their scope of certainty is more limited; in reporting their relationships, nonlinkers tend to
identify close ties to work cliques and hence reflect a more limited image of
themselves.
In short, the powerful tie of communication structure to cognitive process has key implications for quality of work life issues. This has been a
central notion since Durkheim articulated this relationship (Nisbet, 1974).
The force aggregation framework gives us a better way to explain how messages affect managers and their views of themselves and the quality of what
they do and the environments in which they work. The data are, of course,
limited to a case study of one organization, but the analysis over time provides some insights into how strongly managers' perceptions of themselves
and their behavior are held, and further evidence for an increasing pool of
knowledge in this area.
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