Culture and Communication

Principles of communication

·         Communication theory

o   The affects and effects of communication

o   How communication works

o   How we conceptualize and imagine communication

·         Semantics

o   The formation and production of effective communication

Culture and communication

·         Culture is to society what memory is to the person

·         The coherent, learned, shared view of group of people about life;s concerns that tanks what is important, furnishes attitudes about what things are approapriate and dictates behaviour

·         An internal state of mind that underlies and influences the process of communication

Culture as discourse community

·         Communication is basic to cultural identity.

·         Communication constitutes culture.

·         A culture is a group that creates and shares assumptions, priorities, practices.

·         Discourse communities share assumptions about communication channels, formats, styles, and rules.

·         Cultures are logical and learned, complex, contested, and contradictory.

·         Cultures are learning to value diversity.

Culture and identity

·         “[A]n individual’s sense of self derived from formal or informal membership in groups that transmit and inculcate knowledge, beliefs, attitudes, traditions, and ways of life.” (Jameson 2007)

·         Affected by close relationships (space/social proximity), time, power and privilege.

·         Can evoke emotions, be negotiated through communications.

·         Codes as physical & metaphysical  boundaries: inside & outside.

Communicating culture

·         Cultures are expressed verbally, through writing, and non-verbally, through negotiations of time, space, and power.

Communication as process

·         Communication shapes and is shaped by the context.

·         Cultures, individuals, and languages are in a continual state of flux, constantly changing.

·         Theoretical models help us imagine understand the process, to a limited extent

Communication models (need hyper link)

·         Claude Shannon’s Mathematical Model of Communication Process (1948)

·         A two-way model (Northey)

·         Transactional Communication model

·         Dialogic communication model (Clausen 2007)

o   Dialogue: Two words, two voices.

o   Dialogic: meaning created between sender and receiver

o   Dialectical Dialectical: Synthesis = Thesis + Antithesis (contradictions) Or Irresolveable but complimentary relations

Effective communications: Semantic principles

·         Perception involves perceiver and perceived.

·         Interpretations differ: observations, inferences, judgments.

·         No two things are ever alike.

·         Things change significantly with time.

·         Most either/or classifications are not legitimate.

·         A statement is never the whole story.

·         Words do not equal things.

·         To be effective, symbols must hold same meaning for sender and receiver

Communications construct relationships within organizations

·         Bureaucratic: well-defined division of labour; hierarchical; consistency, stability.  Impersonal, efficient, rational. (Weber)

·         Complex: Collections of strategies and structures, relatively simple, partially connected.  More capable of adaptation than bureaucratic.  (Leventhal, et al.)

·         Adaptive: Internally-Externally focused (customers and employees); integrated; welcome change. (Kotelnikov)

Constructing communications: Adaptive Organizations

·         Vision: Sense of direction, aspiration.

·         Balance: Leadership and management.

·         Flat structure: Less hierarchy than bureaucratic.

·         Open culture: Innovation rewarded.

·         External input: Customers, partners, advisors.

·         Forward looking measurements: Progress.

·         Value of continuous education.

·         Effective internal/external communication

·         Strong and flexible.

·         Regular reviews of assumptions

Corporate culture/subcultures

·         Shared values and priorities

·         Shared language

·         Shared understanding of formality

·         Shared stories, heroes, myths (also taboos)

·         Shared goals, missions, performance expectations

Corporate culture problems

·         Leblanc (2003) notes problems arising in some corporate cultures/subcultures:

·         Detachment/Disintegration can give rise to dysfunction.

·         External versus internal factors.

·         Groupthink or ‘herd mentality’ within culture.

Communicating corporate culture

·         Expression of shared goals and values.

·         Internally and externally formulated and disseminated.

·         Internal: motivation, beacon, guide.

·         External: assurances, goodwill, corporate citizenship

Communicating brand

·         Understand the “human” qualities of the brand.

o   What might these qualities be?

o   Internal & external?

o   Tone, appearance, language, audiences (different approaches), channels

·         Core values and philosophies

·         Emotional Attachments

o   Projection of desire

o   Psychic Investment


·         From the Greek: logos (logic, word, writing)

·         Suggests both the word (logo) and logical appeal.

·         Unique and simple representation of business.

·         Emotional appeal.


·         Differentiation: from others in field

·         Relevance: to customers

·         Esteem: of customers.

·         Knowledge: from a factual basis.

·         Can involve emotion (colours, typography, etc.)

·         Effectiveness comes from consistency.

·         What is a brand? Literally, it is a mark denoting ownership…it travels with the goods indicating ownership and exclusive purview. E.g. National brand and personal brand.

Corporate branding as communication process

·         “Your brand is what people say about you.” (Kuzmeski)

·         Appeals to internal and external audiences:

                “Overall, internal stakeholder buy-in is vital.” (Merrilees and Miller)

·         Works through marketing, training, and communications. (Merrilees and Miller).

·         No guarantee of interpretation.

The value of branding: Human and social capital

¡  Adam Smith, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations – invisible hand

                “the acquired and useful abilities of all the inhabitant or member of the society.”

“These talents, as they make a part of his fortune, so do they likewise that of the society to which he belongs.”

Human Capital (what you know)

¡  Includes education, skills, experience.

o   Human capital is replaceable but not transferable.

o   Expandable and self-generating with use.

o   Transportable and shareable

Social capital (whom you know)

¡  “The advantages and opportunities accruing to people through membership in certain communities.” (Bourdieu)

§  Usually social, and organized wrt relative economic indicators

§  Tastes, distinctions, habitus

¡  Communities can include social and professional associations, as well as businesses.

¡  Symbolic power: power to use one’s social capital based on the symbols to which they have access (linked to cultural capital and authority)

¡  “Those shared customary beliefs and values that ethnic, religious, and social groups transmit from generation to generation and enable their members to act together more effectively to pursue shared objectives”

¡  Can affect economic performance (notions of trust, shared values).

Vision and mission statement

Unifying statements

    • Expression of “a company’s identity and thus its core philosophy and values”
    • Answers the question, “Where are we going?”
    • A “significant channel” for communication with stakeholders”
Mission and vision: function

¡  Strategic: defines commercial rationale and target market. Targets minds.

¡  Philosophical: unifies organizational work. Targets hearts.

Mission statements

¡  A mission statement explains an organization’s core purpose and values.  It offers a clear, unambiguous statement to stakeholders and functions as a guide for development.

       What the company is, what it does

       What the company’s responsibilities are to stakeholders

¡  Internal guide: directs behaviours, decision-making.

¡  External expression: communicates to external stakeholders.

¡  Internal and external: satisfies expectations, secures moral legitimacy.

¡  “We strive to globally revolutionize low-risk high-yield technology while continuing to enthusiastically integrate enterprise-wide meta-services for 100% customer satisfaction.” (

¡  “To organize the world’s information and make it accessible and useful.” (Google.)

¡  Narrow enough to allow exclusion.

¡  Broad enough to allow expansion.

¡  Firm enough to serve as template for evaluation.

Vision statements

¡  Forward looking.

¡  Expresses desired status in the future.

Effective vision statements

¡  Conciseness

¡  Clarity

¡  Abstractness

¡  Challenge

¡  Future orientation

¡  Stability

¡  Desirability/ability to inspire

Evaluating Communications: Questions to ask

¡  How would you describe the culture of the organization?

¡  How does that culture express itself?

¡  How does the organization’s structure influence communications (internal, external)?

¡  How does the organization express its goal, values, and philosophies?

¡  How well do vision and mission statements express the organization’s goals?

¡  How are vision and mission statements communicated (internal, external)?

¡  How well does branding reflect mission and vision?

¡  How well does communication reflecting branding?

Applying to communication plan

¡  Use organizational models (bureaucratic, complex, adaptive).

¡  Proceed from an acceptance of change, whether organization, industry, or environment.

¡  Consider influence of organizational model upon state of communications in light of change.