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2007 communication abstracts

2007 Research Fair - Communication Abstracts

Applying Critical Theory to Organizational Communication:
Examining the Role of Communication in Workplace Power Structures
by Kathleen Bratcher and Kristina Larsen
(Faculty Sponsor:  Christine Seifert)

This paper examines the multiple communicative structures within the workplace that limits the power of employees in favor of power by management. Specifically, it looks at Dennis Mumby’s Hermeneutic of Suspicion and Stanley Deetz’s Managerialism theory. Mumby suggests that organizations are not neutral sites of meaning formation, but are fluid systems of ideology reproduced in the context of struggles. Deetz's theory recognizes this and makes a call for democracy through communication in the workplace. Through these critical lenses, it is possible to find ways to guide ourselves in a changing workforce. Sales training materials from Brookstone Company are used as a case study to illustrate the communication patterns of those in power with subordinate stakeholders. This paper looks at the ways that we can apply critical theory to workplace communication in order to make more inclusive and ethical decisions for ourselves and those we manage.