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What is a Theory?. Contemporary Organizational Communication. What is a Theory?. “An organized set of concepts , explanations, and principles of some aspect of human experience” (Littlejohn & Foss, 2005, p. 17). A plausible explanation for a phenomena. What is a Theory?.

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what is a theory

What is a Theory?

Contemporary Organizational Communication

what is a theory1
What is a Theory?
  • “An organized set of concepts , explanations, and principles of some aspect of human experience” (Littlejohn & Foss, 2005, p. 17).
  • A plausible explanation for a phenomena
what is a theory2
What is a Theory?
  • “A theory is a way of seeing and thinking about the world” (Deetz, 1992).
  • A theory is a lens
what is a theory3
What is a Theory?
  • Theories are constructed by people
  • Theories emerge out of the research and the deep thinking of people, often scholars
  • Generally, theories are built upon (or are the reactions to) the earlier theories of others
what is a theory4
What is a Theory?
  • Different theories involve different aspects of an object or a phenomena. For example:
  • Broad view
  • View of one detail
  • Historical view
  • Process view
statue of liberty
Statue of Liberty

View from ground up

View from far away

statue of liberty1
Statue of Liberty

View from inside the statue

statue of liberty2
Statue of Liberty

An historical view of the statue

statue of liberty3
Statue of Liberty

Symbolic view

Symbolic view

communication
Communication
  • Theories about communication in organizations are often grouped within in three broad categories
  • AKA: Three theoretical perspectives
theoretical perspectives
Theoretical Perspectives
  • Traditional: Organizations are objects that can be studied and observed
  • Interpretive: Organizations are shared experiences of those who construct them
  • Critical: Organizations are instruments of power and control
communication theories
Communication Theories
  • The textbook organizes various theories about communication within organizations under the umbrellas of these three perspectives
  • Traditional
  • Interpretive
  • Critical
example meetings
Example - Meetings
  • Let’s examine the topic of meetings in organizations
  • You might look at this topic from one of the three theoretical perspectives
meetings traditional view
Meetings - Traditional View
  • Organizations are objects that can be studied and observed
  • What was included in the agenda?
  • What action items resulted from the meeting?
  • Where can the minutes be found?
meetings interpretive view
Meetings - Interpretive View
  • Organizations are shared experiences of those who construct them
  • Why was the meeting necessary?
  • How did participants perceive the usefulness of the meeting?
  • What was the tone of the meeting?
meetings critical view
Meetings – Critical View
  • Organizations are instruments of power and control
  • Who dominated the meeting?
  • How were differing views handled?
  • Which participants were silent?
meetings
Meetings
  • Communication involving office meetings was examined
  • Each perspective drove different questions
  • Varying theories would emerge out of attempts to answer those questions
what is a theory5
What is a Theory?
  • Theories help us to understand and make sense of the world around us
  • Different perspectives are the foundations for different theories
  • Perspectives are not wrong or right…just different from each other!
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