GROUP COMMUNICATION THEORY CULTURAL APPROACH TO ORGANI ZATI ON Clifford Geertz
Overview• Geertz and Pacanowsky describe organizations as having their own culture. This means that any given organization has a particular culture in which the meanings for things are shared between individuals. • The environment that surrounds each company is called the corporate culture and consists of the organizations image, character, and climate. The culture is learned through the use of Stories (or metaphors) used to convey the messages the corporation wants to share with its employees.
There are three types of stories told:• Corporate stories, information which the management wants to share with the employees; Personal stories, which include personal accounts of themselves that employees share with each other to help to define who they are within the organization; and Collegial stories, which are stories (positive or negative) that employees within an organization tell about eachother.
• Introduction.• A.Anthropologist Clifford Geertz views cultures as webs of shared meaning,shared• understanding,and shared sensemaking.• approach in his research of organizations.• Pacanowsky asserts that communication creates and constitutes the taken-for-• granted reality of the world. •
Clifford Geertz & Michael Pacanowsky 1973Individual Interpretations:This theory clearly comes from ahumanistic perspective. It is veryinterpretive, the use of thick descriptionas a means to understand corporateculture shows us that through symbols,we seek to reach shared meaningthroughout our corporate experience.
Culture as a metaphor of organizational life.A.Interest in culture as a metaphor fororganizations stems from our recent interest inJapanese corporations.B.Corporate culture has several meanings.1.The surrounding environment that constrainsa company ’s freedom of action.2.An image,character,or climate controlled by acorporation.3.Pacanowsky argues that culture is notsomething an organization has,but issomething an organization is.
What culture is ;what culture is not.A.Geertz and his colleagues do not distinguish between high and low culture.B.Culture is not whole or undivided.C.Pacanowsky argues that the web of organizational culture is the residue ofemployeesperformances.D.The elusive nature of culture prompts Geertz to label its study a “soft science.”
Thick description —what ethnographers do.• A.Participant observation,the research methodology of ethnographers,is a time-• consuming process.• B.Pacanowsky researched Gore &Associates.• C.Although Pacanowsky now works with Gore,the company he researched,he earlier• cautioned against “going native.”• D.Thick description refers to the intertwined layers of common meaning that underlie• what people say and do.
Can the manager be an agent of cultural change?• A.The cultural approach is popular with executives who want to use it as a tool,yet• culture is extremely difficult to manipulate.• B.Even if such manipulation is possible,it may be unethical.• C.Linda Smircich notes that communication consultants may violate the ethnographers rule of nonintervention and may even extend management ’s control within an organization.
Limitations• .The cultural approach is criticized by corporate consultants,who believe that• knowledge should be used to influence organizational culture.• B.Critical theorists attack the cultural approach because it does not evaluate the• customs it portrays.• C.The goal of symbolic analysis is to create a better understanding of what it takes to function effectively within the culture.
Example:• Just because Lynn has joined a new company does not mean that she has to become one of "them" all of the time. Just as we do interpersonally, Lynn chooses the appropriate time and place and person for her to tell her stories to. Collegial stories among friends, corporate stories among colleagues, and personal stories to friends. Her descriptions of events help us to understand her role in an organization, as well as her perceptions of it.
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