February 19, 2016

Communication - Koontz and O'Donnell - Review Notes

Communication is the transfer of information from a sender to a receiver, with the the intention or the objective that it is understood by the receiver. Communication is effective when the receiver understands the message.

Importance of communication in organizations is recognized by many authors. Chester Barnard gave the role of linking together people in an organization to communication. Group activity (even within two people group) is impossible without communication.

Four critical areas of communication are message quality, conditions for reception, maintenance of integrity of organized effort, and taking advantage of informal organization.

Principles useful for establishing good communications are:

1. Principle of clarity: Communicate in commonly understood language. It requires familiarity with language patterns of subordinates, peers and superiors. Following this principle will avoid badly mistakes in messages like badly expressed content, and unclarified assumptions etc.

2. Principle of attention: This principle is for the listener. Give attention to receiving the communication.

3. Principle of integrity: This principle relates to the purpose of communication. To a manager, a communication is always a means, never an end. It is one his tools for securing and maintaining cooperation in achieving enterprise objectives.

4. Principle of strategic use of informal organization: The informal organization is a reality and managers need to use this channel intelligently. But no orders should be given through this channel.

Adherence to these principles requires voluntary application by all members of the organization. No one can point out to dollar savings, for the cost of poor communication cannot be calculated. But all agree that there will be cost improvements from better communications.

Barriers and Breakdowns in Communications 

(Weirich and Koontz 10 Edition)

Communication breakdowns are one of the important problems in organizations. But communication problems may be symptoms of more deeply rooted problems also.  The plans of the organization may not have been accepted by large number of persons in the organization. The organization structure could have been poorly designed. The performance standards may have been vague. Hence managers may have to look for the causes of poor communication in the other functions of management also.

Specific communication barriers listed by the authors are:

Lack of planning
Unclarified assumptions
Semantic distortion
Poorly expressed messages
Loss by transmission and poor retention
Poor listening and premature evaluation
Impersonal communication
Distrust, threat, and fear
Insufficient period for adjustment to change
Information overload
Some more barriers

Making Communication More Effective

One approach is make a communication audit. Another approach is to apply communication techniques, with the focus on interpersonal and listening.

Crosswise Communications

This topic was covered in edition four of Koontz and O'Donnell

All enterprises not only permit but insist on voluntary crosswise or horizontal channels of communications at all levels, to speed information and improve understanding.

Updated 4 August 2014, 11 Dec 2011


Rogers, C.R., and F.J. Roethlisberger, " Barriers and Gateways to Communication," Harvard Business Review, vol. 30, no. 4, pp.46-52 (Julu August, 1952).

Communications Management - Video - PMP Prep Exam Career Academy


MBA Core Management Knowledge - One Year Revision Schedule

Updated  19 Feb 2016, 30 Dec 2014