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Organizational Communication


Mengis J.

Course director

Gerosa M.



Attendance is required and absences have to be justified in writing.

Course objectives

The course aims at developing:

  • a communication-sensitive understanding of organizations by revisiting key organizational concerns from a communication perspective;
  • an appreciation of the practical implications of a communication-theoretical account of organizations;
  • an understanding about processes, tools and technologies for managing legitimacy, diversity, organizational change, organizational knowledge and learning.

Course description
The course invites for a critical reflection on the role of communication in organizations. It proposes to shift from a functional to a constitutive perspective of communication and invites students to inquire into how organizational concerns and processes deeply rely on communication. 

The course will first revisit some of the most classic organizational issues from a communication vantage point, such as control or legitimacy. The course will then address particularly pressing organizational challenges in today’s business environment. In particular, it will present communication-centered approaches to the management of diversity, to the management of continuous yet radical change and to the management of knowledge.

Learning methods
The course builds on the active participation of students, problem-based learning and an interactive dialogue between theory and practice. The course’s paradigmatic ambition requires students to engage in the reading of academic papers and case studies. Students will moderate case studies, reflect on representations of organizational communication in popular culture and engage in practical exercises and collaborative group work.

Evaluation procedures and Grading criteria

  • 30%: interactive case moderations – small groups of students carry out a 45-minutes case moderation during class. They guide the class interactively through a journey, which will allow for reflecting on the case through the insights of an academic paper and for theory-informed learnings of the practice of organizational communication.
  • 70%: final written exam with open questions (in English)

Required materials
Alvesson, M., & Willmott, H. (2002). Identity regulation as organizational control: Producing the appropriate individual. Journal of Management Studies, 39, 619-644.
Christensen, L. T., Morsing, M., & Cheney, G. (2008). Corporate communications: Convention, complexity and critique. Sage. pp. 14-19
Faraj, S., von Krogh, G., Monteiro, E., and Lakhani, K.R. (2016) Online community as space for knowledge flows. Information Systems Research 7047, 1–17
Hall, S. (1996). New ethnicities. In: Hall, S. Critical dialogues in cultural studies, Routledge, 441-449. 
Heide, C. J. M. (2008),"Speaking of change: three communication approaches in studies of organizational change", Corporate Communications: An International Journal, Vol. 13 Iss 3 pp. 288 – 305
Kuhn, T., Ashcraft, K.L., & Cooren, F. (2019) Introductory essay: What work can organizational communication do?, Management Communication Quarterly, 33(1): 101-111
Kuhn, T., Ashcraft, K.L., & Cooren, F. (2017) The Work of Communication. Relational Perspectives on Working and Organizing in Contemporary Capitalism, Routledge, Chapter 1: Encountering working and organizing under contemporary capitalism, p1-27
Patriotta, G., Gond, J. P., & Schultz, F. (2011). Maintaining legitimacy: Controversies, orders of worth, and public justifications. Journal of Management Studies, 48(8), 1804-1836.