Critical Approach to Organizations
Explanation of Theory:
"The naive notion that communication is merely the
transmission of information perpetuates managerialism, discursive closure, and the corporate colonization of every
day life. Language is the principal medium through which social reality is produced and repreoduced. Managers
can further a company's health and democratic values by coordinating stakeholder participation in corporate decisions" (In
Griffin, 3rd ed., p. 495).
Theorist: Stanley Deetz
Deetz, S. (1982). Critical interpretive
research in organizational communication. Western Journal of Speech Communication, 46, 131-149.
Deetz takes a humanistic view of the world. He believes
that communication is ongoing, and rather than reflecting reality, comes from reality. The individual meanings we come
up with are shared. Rather than using the information model, Deetz uses a "communication model" in which employees'
level of involvement with an organization is critical.
In this sense, the theory is extremely
humanistic. Definitely coming from a "human beings have free will" standpoint, Critical Theory sheds light on the reciprocal
nature of the relationship between management and everyone else.
There is a multiple reality
created when more than one human being brings their ideas to the table. This phenomenological perspective comes from
a belief that we mutually shape our reality. Deetz impresses upon us that involvement and participation help to shape
our work world.
Very value subjective, since it
is considering the thoughts and influenceds from individual members of the group and not just the top-down approach.
This humanistic look at the roles that people play show us that we all have the ability to be influential.
Critical Theory is a fresh look at modern trends in the workplace.
The ideas of Consent and Participation, gleaned from the Communication Model Deetz puts forth help us to define our role in
the organization in which we work. Essentially, an every man's theory, Critical Theory does take a critical look at
organizations from the perspective of the individual.
Ideas and Implications:
If more organizations took a critical approach there would
be greater liklihood of job satisfaction. There will always be dissenters, but the goal seems to be to make the work
place more cohesive, and to develop mutual understanding about an organization's goals. Rather than having a traditional
bureaucracy, the organization should seek to improve its relations with the individuals that actually do the work. Like
Japanese Management styles, critical theory's goal is to increase the feeling among employees that they have a stake in the
company. This humanistic approach is a beginning to reconceptualize the world of work.
In an effort to improve the management quality at their organization,
Shawn began to put up signs reflecting the management's position that reflected their goals. The signs read things that
promoted participation and involvement in their work place, with the customers and vendors alike. They let everyone
know that they all held a stake in the success of the organization and therefore had control over what happened. The
management wanted to encourage participation in their work.