Communication is undisputedly one of the major pillars of any organization. It is the only way through which the needs and views of all the stakeholders can be taken into account. Organizational communication is a tool for consideration, analysis, evaluation and criticism of the purposes of communication within and out of its structure. A formal organization must involve a combination of formal and informal communication. This can be done using written, verbal and face to face interactions. If an organization creates a conducive environment for communication, all the stakeholders will feel to a recognized part of it. As a result, they will do all their best to deliver quality services for the benefit of the entire organization. They will be motivated to have nothing to worry about. This paper gives a critical analysis of contingency as the most applicable theory of organizational communication.
Theories of Organizational Communication
In a typical organization, there may be lots of complexities. This may pose a very great challenge concerning the best approach to adopt. However, this choice solely lies with the top management because they have a mandate to make important decisions regarding the welfare of the entire organization. However, some of the major theories of organizational communication include contingency theory, competing values theory, enactment theory, media richness theory and systematic theory (Redding, W. C., 2005). The use of these theories is open for debate. Any organization can opt to adopt any of them depending on its internal policies, structure, complexity and the short and long term objectives. It is better to understand the context in which the organization is operating, before identifying the best approach to adopt.
Contingency Theory of Organizational Communication
Contingency theory was propounded by Joan Woodward in 1958. It argues that there is no best way to manage communication in an organization. Instead, the best approach to adopt is directly contingent upon the interactions of external and internal contingencies. In this context, the communication process is influenced by a lot of internal and external stimuli derived from the organization and its immediate surrounding. Such constraints can determine the degree of freedom provided by the organization’s structure. While doing all these, it is fundamental to acknowledge that the communication system should be based on the notion that an organization is made up of individuals capable of making rational, logical and formal decisions tilted towards establishing a mechanical communication within an organization which serves as a container within which communication operates.
According to this theory, the choice of communication system is dependent on the situational contexts within the organization. This implies that there is no set standard which should be used to dictate the flow of communication within the organization. Here, it is believed that any approach can work so long as it can practically solve the problem at hand. However, for the communication process to be effective, it is recommended that the situation is generally accepted by all the involved stakeholders. It can help in critical evaluation of the situational factors before settling on the right channel of communication to adopt. This is because it will help the interested arty to know the best context under which effective communication can be attained. These contingencies vary from one organization to another. Otherwise, it will result into unnecessary conflict which may be difficult to counteract.
This paper argues in favor of this theory because it has been successfully used in many companies. For instance, Rapedhi Enterprises which is the leading supplier of telecommunication gadgets decided to embrace it in coordinating, controlling, managing and planning its operations. After ascertain that the major internal stimuli affecting its communication system are demography, output, structure and tradition, it came up with strategies to improve its communication. Issues like seniority were not to be regarded as perpetual determinants of communication. Instead, it was felt that the channel of communication would vary depending on the age, designation, gender and the level of education of the involved parties. Despite the fact that interpersonal communication was encouraged, the involved parties still understood their positions. As a result, they made communication flow so smoothly without facing any unnecessary obstacle (Mintzberg, H.R., 2009).
The paper recommends this theory to all the organizations willing to improve the communication process. Contingency means flexibility which many people nowadays prefer. It calls for the stoppage in the use of traditional approaches such as bureaucracy which has been criticized for being mere red tapes. Otherwise, it creates room for the organization to analyze the situation before coming u with the most appropriate channel. If individuals can be given the freedom to choose the most appropriate communication channel in line with their legal, technological, environmental, economic and socio-cultural stimuli, they must feel contented. It will mean that they will have an ample opportunity to choose the most appropriate mode of communication which not only suits their immediate environment, but is also accepted by all the involved parties.
Conclusively, the paper agrees with the fact that communication is a fundamental tool in the development of any organization. It is the linkage between the organization and the external environment. However, it is incumbent upon the organization’s top management to come up with the best communication theory which fits its context. As explained, contingency theory is preferred because it is highly flexible and can suit the dynamic society. Besides, it gives all the involved parties an opportunity to exercise their freedom without any coercion. This is why it is recommended for any organization willing to establish a good rapport with its work force, clients and all the other stakeholders.