Annals of the International Communication Association ISSN: 2380-8985 (Print) 2380-8977 (Online) Journal homepage: http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/rica20 Beyond the Snapshot: Setting a Research Agenda in Organizational Communication Sue Dewine & Tom Daniels To cite this article: Sue Dewine & Tom Daniels (1993) Beyond the Snapshot: Setting a Research Agenda in Organizational Communication, Annals of the International Communication Association, 16:1, 331-346, DOI: 10.1080/23808985.1993.11678857 To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/23808985.1993.11678857 Published online: 18 May 2016. Submit your article to this journal Article views: 1 View related articles Full Terms & Conditions of access and use can be found at http://www.tandfonline.com/action/journalInformation?journalCode=rica20 Download by: [Florida State University] Date: 25 October 2017, At: 14:59 Commentary on Allen, Gotcher, and Seibert Downloaded by [Florida State University] at 14:59 25 October 2017 Beyond the Snapshot: Setting a Research Agenda in Organizational Communication SUE DEWINE TOM DANIELS Ohio University M ORE than 20 years ago, George Kelly (1970) chided the social and behavioral sciences for subscribing to what he described as "the epistemological assumption of accumulative jragmentalism, which is that truth is collected piece by piece" (p. 2). Scholarship in organizational communication assuredly has not been an exception in its implicit acceptance of this assumption (Dennis, Goldhaber, & Yates, 1978). Hence the effort of Allen, Gotcher, and Seibert to review refereed journal articles in the decade of the 1980s, while prodigious in scope, has the feel of a sightseeing tour rather than the synthesis that the authors had hoped to produce. Allen et a1. 's review does indicate some maturing and refinement in the field during the past decade, but it also compels us to recognize that at least one thing has not changed over the years-efforts to synthesize the field result in little more than lists of topics and subtopics under which individual studies may be grouped. Although such reviews do classify the scholarly activity of the field, they are tediously constructed and more tediously read because the field itself still lacks any research agenda that can unify scholars in the systematic study of relevant phenomena. Our purposes in this reaction to Allen et a1. 's chapter are (a) to interpret what they have accomplished in their review; (b) to note, where possible, some important landmarks that do appear in the decade of research; and (c) to attempt to chart something of an agenda for future scholarship. We also will refer in our discussion to another recent review of organizational communication scholarship presented by Wert-Gray, Center, Brashers, and Meyers (1991). Correspondence and requests for reprints: Sue DeWine, Lasher Hall, School of Interpersonal Conununication, Ohio University, Athens, OH 45701. Communication Yearbook 16, pp. 331-346 331 332 NEW VIEWS OF ORGANIZATIONAL COMMUNICATION Downloaded by [Florida State University] at 14:59 25 October 2017 STRENGTHS AND LIMITATIONS OF ALLEN ET AL.'S REVIEW In order to assess properly the contributions to our understanding of the field made by Allen et aI., we are obliged to review the method by which they selected and classified articles and to compare their approach with that of Wert-Gray et al. Allen et at. extended their analysis across various disciplines to include 68 journals, whereas Wert-Gray et a1. restricted theirs to 15 major communication journals. The criteria used by Allen et a1. for selecting the 68 journals seem very general. In contrast, Wert-Gray et al. included only journals listed in the MatIon Index to Journals in Speech Communication Through 1985. Not surprisingly, Allen et a1. located more than 800 relevant articles, whereas Wert-Gray et al. found 289. Wert-Gray et a1. attempted only to identify research topics, whereas Allen et al. attempted state-of-the-art assessments within each of their identified research categories. Allen et al. failed to identify and include some important works (e.g., Smith & Eisenberg's 1987 study of conflict at Disneyland, Fairhurst & Chandler's 1989 work on leader-member exchange, and a series of studies by Lamude and colleagues on compliance-gaining in superior-subordinate relationships), but it does not appear that the omission of a few scattered journal articles would alter seriously the result of their analysis. A serious limitation does arise, however, from their decision to focus solely on journals, for this clearly led them to exclude some critical lines of 1980s scholarship that appeared only in edited books. Most notably absent are the entire line of research in Jablin's assimilation theory of organizational communication, Communication Yearbook state-of-the-art reviews and articles, and the handbooks by Jablin, Putnam, Roberts, and Porter (1987) and Goldhaber and Barnett (1988). A second difficulty occurs in the system of topical categories and in assignments of studies to these categories. Wert-Gray et at began with an a priori set of 13 topics. Allen et a1. derived 19 topics a posteriori from the studies themselves. On face, it would seem that Allen et a1. achieved a broader review, and they have indeed identified some significant areas of inquiry that were not revealed in the Wert-Gray et at study (e.g., studies on networks, organization-environment interface, technology, ethics, structure, and crosscultural issues). But Allen et al. also have not identified some important topical areas that were included by Wert-Gray et a1. (e.g., socialization and negotiation). Finally, Allen et al. report intercoder reliability estimates ranging from .70 to .89-much lower than the average of .97 attained by Wert-Gray et a1. in their classification decisions. The difficulty in the lower reliabilities for Allen et al. is reflected at many points in their review with studies that could have been, or in some instances should have been, assigned to other categories. Studies do have a way of crossing arbitrarily defined topical boundaries, but Downloaded by [Florida State University] at 14:59 25 October 2017 Commentary on Allen, Gotcher, and Seibert 333 Allen et al. have imposed upon themselves the obligation of precise classifications by claiming to rank order the topics according to the number of studies appearing in each area. This counting system and rank ordering lead to a potentially misdirected impression of the relative attention that has been given to each topic during the past decade. These are the primary strengths and limitations of the Allen et a1. review, especially when it is considered in comparison with the other recent review by Wert-Gray et a1. In light of these strengths and limitations, what does the Allen et al. review contribute to our understanding of organizational communication scholarship? LESSONS FROM THE REVIEW In this section, we comment briefly on each of the topic areas that Allen et a1. include in their review. Our comments are concerned with the scope of the review and the usefulness of the authors' conclusions. Communication Skills Allen et al. note that researchers have been concerned with communication skills such as influencing, listening, self-presentation, provision of feedback, and interviewing, but they provide virtually no information about the findings and general conclusions that can be drawn from such studies. They do comment, however, on Bingham and Burleson's (1989) finding that strategies for deflecting sexual harassment generally are perceived as ineffective, and call for more research on the subject. They also call for more study of methods to improve listening skills and adoption of a situational-relational perspective in compliance-gaining research, but they do not draw any propositions as such from the lines of research that they cite in these areas. Theoretical Advances Allen et a1. note in this section that various scholars have attempted in the past decade either to describe or to invoke paradigms and metaphors for the direction of organizational communication scholarship. The discussion here is accurate, but is limited by its restriction to refereed journal articles because some of the most compelling statements on scholarly paradigms and perspectives have appeared in other published forms (e.g., Krone, Jablin, & Putnam, 1987; Tompkins & Redding, 1988). The reference in this section to Eisenberg's (1990) comment on our need to attend to diversity is noteworthy, but diversity in the workplace is only one of several interacting forces that are beginning a radical transformation of American economic organizations. These dramatic changes must have a place in our agenda for future research. 334 NEW VIEWS OF ORGANIZATIONAL COMMUNICATION Downloaded by [Florida State University] at 14:59 25 October 2017 Symbols and Culture Allen et al. are quite correct in their assessments of the growth and popularity of studies in organizational culture and symbolism (Le., interpretive and critical studies of organizational communication), but they appear to confuse subject with method in their review. For example, they discuss studies that treat metaphor as their subject. In fact, these studies more properly focus on discourse, with metaphor analysis as a tool for understanding that discourse. This confusion of subject leads Allen et al. to the questionable conclusion that interpretive studies tend to address only one symbolic area at a time. A very good example of the difficulty with this conclusion is provided by an article that was omitted from the review, namely, Smith and Eisenberg's (1987) study of conflict at Disneyland. Smith and Eisenberg feature the analysis of metaphor as the centerpiece of their study, but they use the analysis to reveal a foundation in language for an array of conflicts between labor and management in the company. All such studies are concerned with discourse or text, but the reasons for analysis of texts have to do with sense-making, co-optation, conflict, and so on. Still, Allen et al. are justified in their call for richer interpretive work that will provide "more than 'snapshots' of culture." Information Flow, Networks, Structure, and Technology Although Allen et a1. discuss information flow, networks, structure, and technology as separate categories of research, we have consolidated them here because the scholarship reviewed on these subjects includes many studies that cut across more than one classification. For example, in the section on information flow, Allen et al. discuss studies of the effects of structural elements on flow, but structural influences on decision making are included under the topic of structure. Similarly, the section on networks includes studies of the networktechnology relationship, whereas the technology section includes studies of technological effects on interpersonal interaction. Allen et al. should not be faulted here, for these are difficult lines to draw. The important thing is that the relevant scholarship is covered. Their discussion of the relevant lines of research is restricted mainly to statements of the subjects investigated rather than what we have learned from the scholarship. The network section is something of an exception because Allen et a1. do contend that the research has been more measurement (and method) centered than theory centered, and they provide good examples of the kinds of studies that contribute to network theory. Power and Influence In their review of scholarship on power and influence, Allen et al. primarily call attention to the perspectives from which studies have been conducted, in particular, an interdependency perspective and a social construction perspective. The discussion is accurate insofar as it is developed, but it does seem to 335 Commentary on Allen. Gotcher. and Seibert Downloaded by [Florida State University] at 14:59 25 October 2017 us that Allen et aI. have not fully elaborated the shift in perspective that has occurred in recent years. They describe the shift as a move from French and RavenYs (1959) model to a social construction model, but it may be more accurate to say that a traditional resource conception of power has been superseded by a critical perspective of power (e.g., Daniels & Spiker, 1991). They do correctly note, however, the rising interest in a political approach to organizational communication, and their call for continued examination of political behavior in the workplace is well taken. Decision Making and Problem Solving The review of organizational communication scholarship on decision making is particularly well constructed. Allen et a1. describe the context of the research, the prevailing outcomes and process approaches to the subject, research topics under each approach, and, most important some generalizations and interpretations of the body of literature in this area. They note a shift in the scholarship from outcomes to process, offer evidence to mitigate the criticism that communication scholars do not provide sound prescriptions in this area, and question the assumed link between participatory decision making and organizational effectiveness. Their views on some of these matters can be argued but they have done a good job of articulating a synthesis of the decision-making/problem-solving scholarship. y y Organization-Environment Interface Allen et a1. begin this section with an astute but often neglected notion that public relations and boundary-spanning foci in the study of external communication really are not quite the same thing. In the former category much of the work takes the form of case studies with an interest in how organizations disseminate information, though some of the scholars cited by Allen et a1. (e.g., Grunig, 1982) clearly are concerned as well with the manner in which organizations process information from the environment. Research on the organizational role of the boundary spanner, as Allen et aI. note, involves a different set of issues that have received relatively little attention in public communication research. Their suggestions for work in this area do seem to provide the beginnings of an agenda for scholarship. y Communication and Management Style This section of the review is restricted mainly to topical identification of variable relationships that have been considered and detailed listing of the relevant studies. under each topic. Some of the work here is not clearly distinguished from the earlier discussion of skills, and the interpretation is restricted to yet another invocation of the call for attention to contextual, situational or idiosyncratic influences on style. y 336 NEW VIEWS OF ORGANIZATIONAL COMMUNICATION Language and Message Content Downloaded by [Florida State University] at 14:59 25 October 2017 Allen et al. seem to have confused unnecessarily their discussion of language and message content research with their earlier review of work on symbols and culture, and they even note here that "related research" is reviewed under the earlier heading. Indeed, it seems most of the work discussed in this section merely adds to the topical list already addressed under symbols and culture. There are, however, some variable-analytic studies of message content that clearly have a different set of concerns and could be discussed in more detail under thi sheading. Uncertainty and Information Adequacy The review of scholarship on information adequacy appears to be comprehensive, but the discussion once again is focused more on the development of research topics than on general and recurrent conclusions in the research. Allen et al. do note one general conclusion in the finding of several studies that "more information is not always better" (p. 283), but they do little to interpret the general body of research in this area. They do point to some limitations that could be addressed with additional scholarship, but it seems from the dates of studies in the review that interest in the area is waning. Ethics Allen et a1. found relatively few articles on ethics. In their words, "the lack of such discussion is troubling" (p. 286). They also note the absence of the subject in the two major handbooks (Goldhaber & Barnett, 1988; Jablin et al., 1987), although the subject certainly does receive attention in the major undergraduate organizational communication textbooks (e.g., Daniels & Spiker, 1991; Goldhaber, 1990; Kreps, 1990). Even the referenced articles appear from this review to be far more often concerned with the proposal of ethical codes, models, or theories than with studies of the degree to which organizational behaviors and communication reflect ethical expectations. Allen et al. call for more work on the ethical implications of communicative practices, but how researchers are to go about this is not clear from their review. The provision of ethical criticism is a task more often consigned to rhetoricians than to social scientists, and it may be that the research, if done at all, will be restricted to juxtaposition of behavioral descriptions against agreed-upon ethical codes to at least delineate the gap between the two. Climate Allen et al. note that climate research continues to be plagued with problems in definition and operationalization of the construct, yet they contend that "the time has come for theoretical and model-building efforts" (p. 289). How future efforts will succeed where past ones have failed is a question for Commentary on Allen, Gotcher, and Seibert 337 Downloaded by [Florida State University] at 14:59 25 October 2017 speculation, but AlIen et a1. do make it clear that climate is treated primarily as a psychological construct with multivariate makeup. In this respect, climate appears to be the variable-analytic scholar's equivalent of culture, but distinguishing between "climate" and "culture" also has become a troublesome task. The interactionist approach to climate as described by Allen et a1. seems similar to symbolic treatments of culture, and there is a functionalist, variable-analytic school of thought in the study of culture (Smircich, 1981) that casts novel variables into climatelike models. Cross-Cultural Research Although cross-cultural communication is among the least studied subjects in organizational contexts, it is clear from Allen et al. 's review that scholars are beginning to recognize the increasing importance of this area, particularly as the work force becomes more diverse. Curiously, Allen et al. do not categorize studies on topics arising from gender and racial issues. There are assuredly quite a few gender studies in organizational communication, but not in the journals covered by AlIen et a1. Not surprisingly, they refer to only a few such studies in other sections of their review. We personalIy are unaware of any research on interracial issues in organizational communication, with the exception of cross-cultural studies that involve Asians and whites. The exclusion of such topics from the 1980s agenda is significant, since the case for the importance of cross-cultural research can be extended easily to gender and racial concerns. Groups and Organizational Effectiveness Although much of the research on decision making and problem solving actually occurs with groups, the group studies reviewed in this category of Allen et al.'s chapter are concerned with leadership and with the role of groups in social construction of reality. It appears that a good bit of relevant leadership research may not have been included in this review (e.g., Fairhurst & Chandler, 1989; Hirokawa & Pace, 1983), but the central themes are adequately described. It is interesting to see attention to the role of groups in reality construction, since interpretive theory seems to hinge on this concept. The impact of group processes involves more than just establishing and enforcing normative expectations. It extends to fmming members' understandings ofthe structure, power, politics, tasks, decision premises, valued outcomes, and so on. The call to continue this line of work with naturally occurring groups seems quite appropriate. Outcomes The inclusion of an outcomes category in the scholarship seems almost superfluous, despite Downs, Clampitt, and Pfeiffer's (1988) call for outcomesoriented scholarship. For Allen et al. to say that only 66 studies have Downloaded by [Florida State University] at 14:59 25 October 2017 338 NEW VIEWS OF ORGANIZATIONAL COMMUNICATION addressed outcomes is not quite appropriate, for the literature reflects hundreds of studies of communicative correlates with outcomes such as satisfaction, quality of decisions, and commitment. Allen et a1. admittedly are more concerned here with tangibles such as productivity and performance, but studies on stress and burnout are not far removed from the kinds of outcomes that generally are addressed in organizational communication scholarship, especially in variable-analytic scholarship. If linkages can be established with productivity and performance, it would be something of an advance in the state of the art, but demonstrations of such linkages are not necessary to legitimate the study of organizational communication. AGENDA SETTING The Allen et al. review stops short of developing a research agenda for a more unified body of organizational communication research. We attempt to establish such an agenda here, by first establishing three overriding principles and then identifying potential research areas in eight of the most promising topical areas. Research Design First, the focus of organizational communication research must be communicati ve messages. It is appropriate to study how communication behaviors affect other variables, but noncommunication variables cannot be the only focus and still claim an attachment to the field of organizational communication. Job satisfaction is a noncommunication variable, and when we correlate that with job commitment, for example, we have discovered nothing about the communication process. Second, the criterion for selection of topics to investigate should be that the research helps solve human interaction problems or dilemmas. Applied research in its best form helps us handle everyday encounters with baffling contexts and confusing messages. Organizational communication researchers have an obligation to contribute significantly to human existence and should not shrink from that task. Third, in our opinion, sophisticated statistical analysis has gone beyond human understanding. This is not to say we want to abandon empirical research-we were both trained as empirical researchers and still conduct much of our research using those methods. We recognize the value of multivariate statistics and the ability to study multiple dependent variables, but we also feel that multivariate techniques are used frequently to please editors and add little to our attempts to understand the communication process. Deetz (1992) suggests that such research helps maintain the imbalance in organizational control. He notes: Commentary on Allen. Gotcher, and Seibert 339 Downloaded by [Florida State University] at 14:59 25 October 2017 Most research conducted with categorization, linear models, and generalization as guiding elements has little potential for anything else but furthering control. Little of the research on corporations has aimed at fostering disciplinary resistance or wider interest representation, even when its focus is on "participation" and "democracy." (pp. 347-348) We believe some sophisticated statistical methods lead to such abuses. Multivariate statistics do recognize the complexity of the communication process, but the answers we derive are often more complex and less understandable than the process under study. To help unify our discipline and make our results more understandable, we suggest the following guides for organizational communication research. To begin, researchers should use the least complicated statistic for each research study. If multivariate statistics are felt necessary, the results must answer two basic questions: So what? and How will these conclusions change or confirm the way in which we interact on a daily basis? Next, we must significantly increase the number of studies that triangulate empirical and interpretive research methods. Let's stop talking about why this blended approach is valuable and actually do more of it. "Interpretive theorizing appears to be far more attractive than interpretive methods" (DeWine, 1988, p. 347). Too much of the triangulated research is awkward (Faules, 1982) and too much writing calls for it without providing any clear evidence that it can be done (Deetz, 1982; Pacanowsky & O'Donnell-Trujillo, 1982; Putnam & Pacanowsky, 1983; Smircich, 1983). There are some shining exceptions where the researcher has done a fine job of integration, but they are too few (Nicotera, 1990). Finally, we need to reaffirm that organizational communication is about communication in real organizations-not college sophomores who may be reporting on their summer jobs or work-study assignments. The field of interpersonal communication may be allowed a bit more flexibility, and although we personally are not interested in finding out how sophomores enter into and terminate their relationships with girlfriends and boyfriends, there may be some areas of study for which "warm bodies" are sufficient. For organizational communication research, however, we cannot conceive of worthwhile conclusions being drawn from college sophomores and applied to individuals who depend on the organization for their survival and status. Organizational politics is not a topic anyone understands well while in the nonthreatening, protective environment of the university, and yet organizational members must deal with politics every day on the job. Developing Research Plots Like the plot of a play, the Allen et al. review and our critique of it suggest numerous areas ripe for exploration. An examination of these areas reveals a Downloaded by [Florida State University] at 14:59 25 October 2017 340 NEW VIEWS OF ORGANIZATIONAL COMMUNICATION field in need of focus and direction. In particular, we will set a research agenda for interpersonal relations in organizations, theoretical development, communication skills, groups, power and politics, diversity, change, organizational culture, and family and work life. With 233 articles reviewed for the interpersonal communication section, it becomes the largest single area researched in the field of organizational communication. These articles focus on interpersonal relationships in organizational contexts. The largest subsection reviewed is feedback and its impact on behavior in a variety of contexts. What is most needed is meta-analysis of this large body of research before we plunge into even more diverse topics. For example, Wilkins and Andersen (1991) conducted a meta-analysis that found no differences between males and females in work stress. That type of research needs to be conducted across all of the areas mentioned here. While gender differences have been carefully analyzed, little research has been conducted in cross-cultural or racial differences. We call for future research to identify "inequity indicators" and techniques leading to increased fairness in the workplace. With the predicted diversity in the work force by the year 2000, organizations need to prepare for a very different worker in the future. The next largest area reviewed by Allen et al. is that of communication skills. They draw no conclusions from the research except to call for more research, yet there appears to be ample justification for developing clear lines of research in compliance-gaining and compliance-resistance. Much of the research reviewed by Allen et a1. focuses on selection of influence tactics across a wide variety of settings (Le., organizational level, choice by superior and subordinate of tactics, relational power and influence strategies, job experience, and competence). This area of communication skills research has depended on survey instruments that, for the most part (DeWine, Nicotera, & Parry, 1991), ask respondents to predict the types of techniques they would use under various conditions. Researchers need to ask coworkers, subordinates, and superiors about the types of influence strategies they have used and their perceptions of the impacts of those techniques, and then compare those strategies with outcome variables such as promotions, performance appraisals, and success rates of proposals. Studies looking at skills and outcomes such as promotability and performance need to be encouraged (Papa & Tracy, 1988; Shockley-Zalabak, Staley, & Morley, 1988; Sypher & Sypher, 1983; Sypher & Zorn, 1986). Although Allen et al. uncovered five research articles on listening, it is still a forgotten area of research. It is ironic that we have declared 50% of the communication process "defunct. n Of the five articles mentioned (Hunt & CuselIa, 1983; Lewis & Reinsch, 1988; Papa & Glenn, 1988; Reinsch & Lewis, 1984; Sypher, Bostrom, & Seibert, 1989), fOUf were published in the Journal of Business Communication and one in Communication Education. It is time researchers began to explore this area with renewed interest and understanding of the importance of listening to the communicative process, Downloaded by [Florida State University] at 14:59 25 October 2017 Commentary on Allen, Gotcher. and Seibert 341 and time that editors look at such research with added attention. To what degree do individuals' fear of being influenced prevent them from listening? How do perceptions of the degree to which someone else is listening influence one's evaluation of the other's intelligence, support, and understanding? Studies in which participants are asked to evaluate another's listening immediately after interactions, and that test the listener's comprehension and degree of idea acceptance, will produce more insight than simple comprehension tests. One notable area of research, which addresses our call for research to help solve human problems, is represented by Bingham and Burleson's (1989) study on strategies for deflecting sexual harassment. Organizational communication researchers should be providing evidence of effective "refusal" messages, along with compliance-gaining and compliance-resistance tactics. We are convinced that organizational members will face more complicated communication situations in the future and will need an arsenal of behaviors, and knowledge of their impact, with which to combat the attacks they will receive. Because we feel the climate for equality in the United States has been dissolving during the past 15 years, we believe it is more critical now than ever before that we provide individuals with tools and skills to combat the discrimination they are likely to face. The field of organizational communication has an opportunity to make significant contributions to individuals' repertoires of communication strategies to deflect harassment and abuse. We have not yet met that challenge. It would seem that a companion to communication skills would be communication training research, yet Allen et al. dismiss this area, saying simply, "The bulk of training articles ... are not reviewed here because of space constraints. However, numerous articles were published during the 1980s, many dealing with training in communication skills" (p. 262). If communication skills constitute an important area of research, then the ways in which organizational members learn those skills is also critical. Theoretical development is the next area on which researchers should focus their efforts. We believe the most fruitful writing that attempts to develop a theoretical framework for future research includes that by Fulk and Boyd (1991), Tompkins and Redding (1988), Krone et al. (1987), and Deetz (1992). Scholars need to use social identity theory (Ashforth & Mael, 1989) to identify messages used to create distance in a relationship as well as to identify with some implied organizational group, and to adapt the social influence model and adaptive structuration (Fulk & Boyd, 1991) to contexts such as a sales force. Social information processing research must be tested (Zalesny & Ford, 1990). Eisenberg's (1990) "jamming" needs to be taken out of the context of abstract image making and applied to real organizational contexts. The most promising of all the recent theoretical work has come from Stan Deetz's new book, Democracy in an Age of Corporate Colonization (1992). 342 NEW VIEWS OF ORGANIZATIONAL COMMUNICATION This treatise provides a rich theoretical foundation from which to launch a research endeavor. Deetz claims that during the past decade organizations have become the primary institution in many societies because of sheer economic power: Downloaded by [Florida State University] at 14:59 25 October 2017 The United States is one of a handful of nations with gross national products larger than the gross product of several international corporations. Deeply involved with the growth of the multinationals have been issues of accountability and effects on nations' economics and public policies. (p. 18) The corporations have transformed how people work, live at home, and deal with family, and have also developed a growing domination of social decision making. Deetz calls for research on a new political sensitivity with three goals: "insight, critique, and education" (pp. 345-346). Research on groups and decision making has received extensive attention for much longer than the decade of review provided by Allen et a1. In addition, this subject area represents probably one of the best-constructed sections of Allen et a1. 's chapter. The authors do suggest that laboratory studies can operationally define variables, but the pressures and constraints on decision making can better be assessed in the field. This line of research is exactly what we have called for, particularly in light of the shift from outcomes perspective to a process orientation with "factors influencing how decisions are made in a real-world setting" (p. 271). What we believe is needed is a carefully executed meta-analysis of these research lines, resulting in a clear statement of valid research findings translated into group process approaches. Included in this review should be what Allen et al. list as a separate category of organizational and group effectiveness. The questions posed by Allen et a1. at the end of the group effectiveness section provide some hint of potential lines of research. Charles Redding (1991) calls for the examination of power and ethics in organizations. But how should we study power in the organization? Apparently, not many researchers have been able to answer that question. Too many researchers are still studying French and Raven's (1959) five bases of power and have not seen the direct links between power and sexual harassment and between power and politics in organizations. In fact, much of the research reviewed by Allen et al. actually is focused on conflict management that mayor may not deal directly with uses and abuses of power (Ross & DeWine, 1988). We would urge the continued examination of the use of language to exercise power and influence (Drake & Moberg, 1986). Language usage in organizational research has not received the attention it deserves, particularly with regard to the powerful use of language to control and express "political" views. "Political maneuvering" appears to be a promising new area of research, especially as it relates to sexual harassment, male and female superiors, and ethical decision making. Field research settings are difficult to enter; however, to understand how power is manifest in an organization, we do not Downloaded by [Florida State University] at 14:59 25 October 2017 Commentary on Allen, Gotcher; and Seibert 343 believe instrumentation or laboratory studies can come close to tapping into the variable. Perhaps the use of critical incidents and focused interviews will reveal how organizational members use power to advance ideas and themselves. Allen et a1. call for research on ethical codes of conduct and are "troubled" by the lack of interest in this area. Instead of focusing on codes of ethics, we think it would be much more profitable to examine the degree to which organizational behaviors and communication reflect ethical expectations. The analysis should use rhetorical themes and behavioral descriptions and then juxtapose the results with unwritten ethics codes. Finally, research on ethics codes and decision making should be placed within the context of power analysis, because neither exists without the other. As organizational practitioners tum to issues of diversity, change, and organizational culture, so do researchers. However, the field of organizational communication has spent too much time calling for such research and not enough time doing it (DeWine, 1988). In fact, Allen et a1. identify this as the second most frequently researched area, and claim that it has hblossomed." First, we need to identify more clearly what we mean by culture and how change and diversity influence that culture. Too often we have confused culture with climate research (DeWine, 1991). We think organizational climate has been overresearched. It has not presented more than a vague perception of "how happy I am in my job." Practitioners are tired of hearing about general perceptions of "how things are around here." Unfortunately, researchers continue to view culture as a variable and believe in "managing or changing it in predictable ways" and in "linking it to desired organizational and individual outcomes" (p. 264), while other disciplines are embracing organizational culture as a much larger framework for examining life in any organization. Allen et a1. gloomily predict the continuation of this trend of viewing culture as a variable to be manipulated, which certainly does not put us in the forefront of research. We think Mumby's (1988) characterization-that an organization does not have a culture, it is a culture-is a more realistic view. Organizations do not have any existence independent of the shared values and meaning systems that are generated by organization members. We would like to recommend more research on culture be undertaken from the "inside," for example, Goodall's (1984) examination of NASA and the Uthal conference. We do not believe culture is a variable, but rather a state of mind or existence that guides and directs all activity in the organization. Only from the inside and from a review of history can one come to understand culture. "We are dealing with culture only when a group believes so strongly in something that it automatically assumes that any new member coming into the group ought to have that same assumption" (Schein, 1985, p. 11). With change will come diversity, and issues related to this change in the workplace must be addressed. All other variables will be affected by the dramatic infusion of diverse workers predicted for the next century. The field 344 NEW VIEWS OF ORGANIZATIONAL COMMUNICATION Downloaded by [Florida State University] at 14:59 25 October 2017 of organizational communication has another opportunity to lead researchers and practitioners into a greater understanding of how these changes will affect all aspects of human interaction. A final area for productive research is family and work life. As individuals spend more and more time at work, the lines between their private lives and work lives begin to blur (DeWine, Pearson, & Yoast, 1993). Allen et a1. mention the work-family relationship only as it is related to organizational decision making (Wicker & Burley, 1991). We believe this is an excellent area to combine interpersonal and family research with organizational communication designs. We all know what it is like to juggle, integrate, and compromise our own desires as well as demands from others in an effort to reconcile our personal and organizational lives. We know that the stresses of organizational life influence the conduct of our personal lives and vice versa. Of particular interest is the impact the changing role of women has had on this interaction. How are mutual influences and our coping strategies (juggling, integrating, compromising-or just giving up) reflected in ourday-to-day communication and relationships with others in both of these lives? (DeWine, Daniels, & Pearson, 1988, p. 1) CONCLUSIONS There are a number of areas we have left out of our research agenda (Le., public relations and boundary spanning, infonnation flow and networks, technology, and structure), not because they are unfruitful areas for research, but because we are attempting to create a focus for the field. We think attention should be paid first to communication skills and training, organizational culture, ethics, diversity, and family and work life. These areas are most promising, and all directly focus on communicative messages in organizations. 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