chapter  11
18 Pages

Small Group and Organizational Communication

Small groups and organizations are social institutions that have been constituted with specific goals and purposes in mind. Individuals participate in these groups with the explicit knowledge and under the assumption that their purpose is to coordinate their behaviors and achieve, or at least attempt to achieve, these goals and purposes. Because groups and organizations coordinate behaviors of members, articulate goals, monitor performance, and take corrective actions by means of communication, it seems reasonable to assume that communication in groups and organizations is primarily strategic (Conrad & Poole, 2012). Strategic in this context is defined as intentional, planned, and directed at long-term goals, both on the level of individual communication behaviors as well as on the level of group and organizational structures. Structures of groups and organizations reflect strategic choices about the goals that are pursued as well as the processes used to achieve the goals. For example, juries in criminal cases are organized flatly and their communication is prescribed to be participatory and deliberate, with secret ballots and a foreperson as a facilitator rather than as a decision maker because their purpose is to arrive at a correct and unanimous determination of a defendant’s guilt or innocence. In contrast, a fire company is organized hierarchically, with welldefined roles for firefighters, driver engineer, and lieutenant and equally rehearsed procedures that maximize speed and efficiency.