K5111 General Functional Theory

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By, Gnaliny Tigarajan. For class presentation. UPM Master of Corporate Communication.

By, Gnaliny Tigarajan. For class presentation. UPM Master of Corporate Communication.

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  • 1. KOM5111 THEORY OF COMMUNICATION GENERAL FUNCTIONAL THEORY (Randy Hirokawa) By Gnaliny A/P Tigarajan GS28656
  • 2. FOUNDER
  • 3. FOUNDER
    • Randy Y. Hirokawa
    • Known for his expertise in the area of small group communication and group decision-making effectiveness. His scholarship has contributed to the development of a theory called the "functional perspective."
    • Dr. Hirokawa's publications include three edited books, 36 refereed journal articles, and 24 book chapters .
    • Dr. Hirokawa has delivered numerous national and international lectures, among them the prestigious Van Zelst Lecture at Northwestern University, the Thomas M. Scheidel Annual Faculty Lecture at the University of Washington, and the B. Aubrey Fisher Memorial Lecture at the University of Utah .
    • Prior to becoming the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at UH Hilo in January 2005 , Dr. Hirokawa served on the faculty at the Pennsylvania State University (1980-1984) and the University of Iowa (1984-2004 ), where he served as the Departmental Executive Officer of the Department of Communication Studies from 1998-2004 .
    • While on the faculty at the University of Iowa, Dr. Hirokawa received the Burlington Northern Faculty Achievement Award (1989) and the Collegiate Teaching Award (2003).
    • Dr. Hirokawa has served as the editor of Communication Studies, the journal of the Central States Communication Association (1991-1994), and has served on the Editorial Board of five journals: Small Group Research (1990-1998), Organizational Science (1991-1993), Communication Monographs (1996-2001), Communication Studies (1997-2005), and Journal of Applied Communication Research (2001-2004). As a member of the National Communication Association (NCA), he has served on its Legislative Council, Nominating Committee, Doctoral Education Committee, Committee on Minority Education, and Doctoral Education Committee, which he chaired in 2002-2003 . Dr. Hirokawa is a past chair of the Group Communication Division .
    • Dr. Hirokawa received his B.A. from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, and his M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Washington. He was inducted into the University of Washington Department of Communication Alumni Hall of Fame in 2006 and delivered the keynote address at the 2008 induction.
  • 4. DEFINITION
    • The general functional theory explains how small groups can effectively make a decision without chaos .
    • By fulfilling Hirokawa’s four task requirements , group members are able to interact in a positive manner to achieve the best solution possible for a problem that is being studied.
    • This theory accounts for group decision-making performance in terms of the role that group communication plays in facilitating or impeding the group's efforts to perform crucial cognitive and interpersonal decision-making functions . This theory has been identified as one of the three most influential theories of small group communication .
  • 5. General Functional Theory
    • Tries to identify the kinds of things groups must address to become more effective
    • FOUR TASK REQUIREMENTS
    • (1) Groups begin by identifying and assessing a problem
      • Ex: What happened? Why? Who was involved?
    • (2) Groups then gather and evaluate information about the problem
    • (3) Next, groups generate alternative proposals and discusses objectives to be accomplished
    • (4) Objectives and alternatives are evaluated in order to reach consensus (exploration of positive and negative outcomes)
    • Factors which lead to incorrect decisions
      • improper assessment - failing to see the problem or identify its causes
      • inappropriate goals and objectives
      • improper assessment of positive and negative qualities
      • inadequate information base
      • faulty reasoning from the information base
    • Errors arise from the communication within the group
  • 6. MAIN CONCEPTS
    • A. Function
    • 1. Function as the purpose of a communicative act (that which an act seeks to accomplish is its function)
    • Ex: The function of a question is to obtain information.
    • 2. Function as the consequence of a communicative act (that which results from an act is its function)
    • Ex: A joke "functions" to bring about tension release.
    • B. Manifest vs. Latent Function
    • 1. Manifest function is the objective consequence of an act which is intended and recognized by the participants in the system.
    • Ex: The outcome is known by all participants in the group
    • 2. Latent function is the unintended and unrecognized objective consequence of an act .
    • Ex: The outcome of is unknown to all participants in the group
    • C. Functional Requisite -- that which must be accomplished by the members of a group in order to ensure the effective functioning of the system .
    • 1. Adaptation : adjusting to changes in the environment and relationship/group.
    • 2. Instrumental control : manipulation of aspects of the environment and group necessary for goal achievement.
    • 3. Expression : management of interpersonal tensions and conflicts among group members.
    • 4. Integration : creation of shared attitudes, values, and beliefs.
  • 7. VARIABLES
    • I ndependent V ariable:
    • identifying and assessing the problem
    • gather and evaluate information
    • alternative proposals and discussing objectives
    • Objectives and alternatives are evaluated
    • Ex: How we speak to members of the group, making sure all the information is passed on without any misunderstanding
    • D ependent V ariable:
    • Quality of Output
    • Ex: The result of the discussion with group members
  • 8. APPLICATIONS
    • The example of a committee and their hiring process .
    • Ex: Interviewing the candidate in a glass room, while all other interviewers sit and observe, then after the interview sessions are over, they discuss which is the most suitable candidate.
    • While utilizing the four task requirements, the committee will be able to select the best possible candidate for the position.
  • 9. CRITICISMS Stohl and Holmes (1993) discussed the misconceptions of functional theorists:
    • Decision quality is an objective characteristic or attribute that is apparent at the time of the production of a decision.
    • Relevant task communication takes place within meetings and not outside of the small group context .
    • Group action is non-simultaneous and meaningfully sequenced
  • 10. CRITICISMS Continued
    • In further reading, it seems that the theory has some of it’s weaknesses as well.
    • First, the assessment of outcomes is challenging .
    • For example, a given solution might be best for the group, but it may have harmful consequences for other members of the organization.
    • A decision may seem appropriate today, but in 10 years, it might turn out to be a poor one, due to the changes in technology or mindset of people, etc...
    • Second, some researchers argue that decision making is not rational. Emotions, power, hidden agendas, interpersonal conflicts, competing goals, and forces outside the group all play a part in the final decision that a group makes.
    • Thus, the functional theory may not provide a very useful picture of decision making and problem solving in naturally occurring groups .
    • Third, researchers have found it difficult to consistently identify the key group functions essential to small group decision making and problem solving .
    • It is difficult to pinpoint group functions that remain consistent from many different groups ; even a given group will use different functions as time passes and circumstances or situations change in future .
    Read and interpreted from: THEORIES OF SMALL GROUP COMMUNICATION URL:http://www.mhhe.com/socscience/comm/group/students/theory.htm Accessed on: 6.2.2011
  • 11. FUTURE DEVELOPMENT OF THEORY
    • Stohl and Holmes proposed that two more additional classes of functions added to those developed by functional theorists:
      • Embeds the decision in on going group life ( historical functions )
      • Accomplishes the embedding of a decision in a penetrable context ( institutional functions )
    Reference: Stohl and Holmes (1993) Management Communication Quarterly,2, 63-89. A functional perspective for bona fide groups.