a communication structure in which members communicate with their immediate superior and their immediate subordinates
Organizational communication is influenced by the goals and purpose of the organization, which are in large part established by the type of business being managed. There are a variety of types of organizations, including for-profits, non-profits, volunteer associations, and corporations. Managers of these organizations are tasked with implementing internal and external communication methods that will help them achieve their mission. Organizational structure and form of ownership can often influence the use of formal or informal communication strategies within the organization.
Types of Organizations
A for-profit business is an organization engaged in the trade of goods or services to customers, or both, with the goal of earning profit to increase the wealth of the business's owners. Forms of business ownership vary, but several common forms include:
a sole proprietorship, which is owned by one person and operates for their benefit;
a partnership, a business owned by two or more people; and
a corporation, where the owners have limited liability and the business has a separate legal personality from its owners.
Corporations can be either government-owned or owned by individuals. They can be either for-profit or non-profit. A non-government for-profit corporation is owned by its shareholders, who elect a board of directors to direct the corporation and hire its managerial staff.
An organization's ownership and management styles can impact its communication structures.
Some businesses with shareholders and layers of directors and managers may choose a more formal, hierarchical approach to communicate internally. Members of hierarchical organizational structures communicate with their immediate superior and their immediate subordinates. This can be useful partly because it can reduce the communication overhead by limiting information flow.
At the same time, there are some businesses that support informal and horizontal forms of communication. This structure works in contrast to traditional top-down, bottom-up, or hierarchical communication and involves the spreading of messages from individuals across the base of a pyramid. Proponents of this strategy argue that it can help create a more creative work environment and allow for more problem-solving and sharing of information.
But regardless of whether a for-profit business uses formal or informal communication strategies, they all share the same goal of making a profit. This means that external communication structures are formal and are focused on demonstrating to customers that there are benefits to purchasing their products and/or services.
In contrast, a non-profit organization (NPO) is legally prohibited from making a profit for its owners. All income generated by a non-profit's activities must be used to achieve the charitable or educational purpose defined in the organization's bylaws. While not-for-profit organizations are permitted to generate surplus revenues, these must be retained by the organization for its self-preservation, expansion, or plans. That is, the organization itself can make a profit, but the funds must not be used to benefit its owners. (In fact, an NPO has no owners. ) Also, the extent to which an NPO can generate surplus revenues, or the use of those revenues, may be restricted.
The purpose of an NPO is to provide solutions to social problems or respond to a community's needs. Many of these organizations provide important services in the social services, health, and education fields. Their goal is to be successful not in terms of wealth but in terms of providing value to the groups of people they serve and administer to. While a for-profit's managers are concerned with profit margins, a non-profit's managers must always be aware of their charitable purpose and ensure that the organization's operations conform to those purposes. Therefore the purpose of marketing, or external communications, in an NPO is to build awareness and to demonstrate the company's ability to make a difference with community support. Regarding internal communications, smaller non-profits might lean toward using a combination of both formal and informal methods coupled with horizontal communication strategies.
A voluntary association is a group of individuals who enter into an agreement as volunteers to form an organization with the goal of accomplishing a certain purpose. Common examples of volunteer organizations include trade associations, trade unions, learned societies, and professional associations. Associations may take the form of a non-profit organization or a not-for-profit corporation, so communication structures and strategies for small and large non-profit and for-profit organizations may apply.
Perhaps the most popular type of organization is the corporation. A corporation is a distinct legal entity that has been incorporated either directly through legislation or through a registration process established by law. Incorporated entities have legal rights and liabilities that are distinct from those of their employees and shareholders and may conduct business as either a profit-seeking business or a not-for-profit business. Since a corporation is legally a person, it is guaranteed the same rights as a natural person, including equal protection under the law.
A corporation is owned and controlled by its members. Typically, shareholders do not actively manage a corporation; instead, they elect or appoint a board of directors to control the corporation in a fiduciary capacity. Similarly, the day-to-day activities of a corporation are controlled by individuals who have been appointed by the members; in some cases this will be a single individual, but more commonly corporations are controlled by one or more committees.
The organizational structure and communication style of a corporation depends on the type of organization and its management style. However, the hierarchical mode of communicating tends to be the dominant choice in many corporations.
Corporate social responsibility (CSR), also called corporate conscience, is a form of corporate self-regulation integrated into a business model. CSR policy functions as a built-in, self-regulating mechanism whereby a business monitors and ensures its active compliance with the spirit of the law, ethical standards, and international norms. CSR can also be a process that helps organizations embrace responsibility for the company's actions while encouraging a positive impact through its activities on the environment, consumers, employees, communities, stakeholders, and all other members of the public sphere who may also be considered stakeholders. An organization's CSR policy can shape what is communicated in the public sphere.