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5.3 Chapter Exercises

PLEASE NOTE: This book is currently in draft form; material is not final.

Real World Case Study

Bluewolf, an information technology (IT) consulting firm in New York, grew from two individuals to over 200 individuals in just seven years. In 2008, the organization made approximately $31 million in revenues. During the process of hiring new individuals, the company founders Michael Kirven, 38, and Eric Berridge, 39, didn’t really worry about vacation policies. The unofficial vacation policy now states that individuals can take vacations anytime they want for as long as they want as long as the individual’s objectives are being met. In fact, most people in the organization take 3–4 weeks of vacation a year because too much more than that would make completing objectives very difficult.

Bluewolf didn’t stop with just their non-vacation policy, the organization openly encourages a highly interactive and communicative environment. Employees working on teams will often take team trips to the gym or volunteer in community causes.

As a result of its unique structure, the organization estimates that it saves $250,000 a year because no one is having to watch time-cards and vacation days. Furthermore, the turnover rate in the organization is very small.

  1. Do you think Bluewolf’s organizational structure could be effective in other types of organizations? If so, in what types of organizations do you think this organizational structure would be the most effective?
  2. How do you think the lack of a formal vacation policy increases effective communication at Bluewolf?
  3. Do you see any communicative problems that may arise out of the organizational structure created by Bluewolf?

Real World Case Study

Starcom MediaVest Group has come to the realization that many employees are spending a considerable amount of time during each workday on various social networking websites (e.g., myspace, facebook, friendster, linkedin, etc.). In fact, research has found that 20 percent of today’s employees are actively engaging in a social network website during the business day. Senior executives at Starcom MediaVest decided to stop fighting the losing war against social networking and join the social networking phenomenon.

Starcom MediaVest Group ultimately decided to create their own social networking website specifically for their employees. The website creators even looked to popular social networking websites like myspace and facebook when creating Starcom MediaVest’s site. For example, if you’re looking for someone who has specific knowledge on advertising opportunities in South-East Asia, you just have to type the information into the websites search engine. The search engine then shows the individual searching as a pushpin in the center of a bull’s eye with surrounding pushpins indicating people around the world in the Starcom MediaVest Group family who have the expertise you’re looking for.

  1. How do you think social networking sites are changing the dynamics of horizontal communication within the organization?
  2. Do you think organizations should limit employee access to social networking websites during the business day?
  3. What do you think some of the downsides are for an organization having its own social networking website?

Real World Case Study

Weekends are supposed to be a time when individuals can relax and not think about what’s going on at work. However, with the invention of e-mail, text messaging, and other forms of interactive technologies, our ability to escape to our homes for a work-free weekend is becoming harder and harder to do. To combat this problem, PricewaterhouseCoopers started discouraging employees from e-mailing individuals on the weekends.

If an employee of PricewaterhouseCoopers attempts to send an e-mail on Saturday or Sunday, they are greeted with the following pop-up message “It’s the weekend. Help reduce weekend e-mail overload for both you and your colleagues by working offline.” Senior executives at PricewaterhouseCoopers argue that sending e-mail during the weekend makes other individuals feel obligated to respond during the weekend. Instead, employees are encouraged to write their e-mails during the weekend but wait until Monday morning to actually send the e-mails.

  1. The pop-up message is a form of downward communication related to communication flow. Do you think this is an effective way to prevent weekend e-mails?
  2. Do you think people are obligated to respond to e-mails they receive during the weekend?
  3. With the invention of new technology, has the idea of the workless weekend disappeared forever?

End-of-Chapter Assessment Head

  1. When Jerry first started working for Capital Bank, he was told that every Friday was casual Friday. The first week he worked for the organization he wore jeans to work only to find out that everyone else was wearing khaki pants and a Capital Bank polo shirt tucked in. What aspect of formal communication did Jerry face in this example?

    1. communication rule
    2. communication norms
    3. communication overtures
    4. communication overload
    5. communication underload
  2. Which of Dover’s (1959) three eras of the history of downward communication was concerned with notices of birthdays and anniversaries, jokes, notices of local recreation and entertainment opportunities?

    1. era of entertainment
    2. era of information
    3. era of interpretation
    4. era of persuasion
    5. era of reticence
  3. Katherine is very unhappy with her organization’s stance on a new international advertising campaign. She finds the campaign racist but she feels that if she says anything at work people may retaliate against her. Instead, she anonymously blogs about her uneasiness on a website for marketing professionals. According to Jeffrey Kassing, Katherine is exhibiting what type of organizational dissent?

    1. articulated
    2. latent
    3. displaced
    4. mediated
    5. whistleblowing
  4. What are communication networks that exist outside the formal hierarchy of an organization?

    1. formal
    2. informal
    3. mediated
    4. social
    5. capitalized
  5. Kalina is on the Board of Directors of Children International, a large nonprofit trying to alleviate worldwide hunger. Kalina is also a member of the American Farmer’s Association. In her two roles, Kalina is often discussing how the two organizations can help each other. According to Rogers (1995), what critical role is Kalina playing in her communication network?

    1. liaison
    2. gatekeeper
    3. cosmopolitan
    4. isolate
    5. bridge

Answer Key

  1. b
  2. a
  3. c
  4. b
  5. e

PLEASE NOTE: This book is currently in draft form; material is not final.