Lesson 5: Organizational communication
The field traces its lineage through business information, business communication, and early mass communication studies published in the 1930s through the 1950s. Until then, organizational communication as a discipline consisted of a few professors within speech departments who had a particular interest in speaking and writing in business settings. The current field is well established with its own theories and empirical concerns distinct from other fields.
Several seminal publications stand out as works broadening the scope and recognizing the importance of communication in the organizing process, and in using the term “organizational communication”. Nobel Laureate Herbert A. Simon wrote in 1947 about “organization communications systems”, saying communication is “absolutely essential to organizations”. W. Charles Redding played a prominent role in the establishment of organizational communication as a discipline.
In the 1950s, organizational communication focused largely on the role of communication in improving organizational life and organizational output. In the 1980s, the field turned away from a business-oriented approach to communication and became concerned more with the constitutive role of communication in organizing. In the 1990s, critical theory influence on the field was felt as organizational communication scholars focused more on communication’s possibilities to oppress and liberate organizational members.