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Den kommunikativa utmaningen : en studie av kommunikationen mellan chef och medarbetare i en modern organisation

Simonsson, Charlotte LU (2002) In Lund Studies in Media and Communication
Abstract (Swedish)
Popular Abstract in Swedish

Chefer ägnar större delen av sin arbetstid – ca 80 procent - till att kommunicera med andra människor. Kommunikation har alltid haft en central roll i ledarskapet, men i dagens organisationer har kommunikationen blivit ännu viktigare och också svårare. Strävan efter delaktighet, delegering, arbete i nätverk och tvärfunktionella team innebär att kommunikationen mellan chef och medarbetare måste ändra karaktär från enkelriktad ordergivning till dialog och meningsskapande. Med andra ord rymmer den moderna organisationen en kommunikativ utmaning. Men har denna utmaning antagits? Vad har chefer och medarbetare för syn på kommunikation? Hur kan ledarskapets kommunikativa praktiker beskrivas och... (More)
Popular Abstract in Swedish

Chefer ägnar större delen av sin arbetstid – ca 80 procent - till att kommunicera med andra människor. Kommunikation har alltid haft en central roll i ledarskapet, men i dagens organisationer har kommunikationen blivit ännu viktigare och också svårare. Strävan efter delaktighet, delegering, arbete i nätverk och tvärfunktionella team innebär att kommunikationen mellan chef och medarbetare måste ändra karaktär från enkelriktad ordergivning till dialog och meningsskapande. Med andra ord rymmer den moderna organisationen en kommunikativ utmaning. Men har denna utmaning antagits? Vad har chefer och medarbetare för syn på kommunikation? Hur kan ledarskapets kommunikativa praktiker beskrivas och förstås? Vilka är de organisatoriska villkoren för kommunikationen mellan chef och medarbetare? Dessa frågor står i centrum för den här avhandlingen.



Avhandlingen baseras på en kvalitativ undersökning inom en av Volvo Personvagnars utvecklingsenheter. I mitt arbete har jag använt mig av flera olika metoder: intervjuer, observationer (av främst möten) och analys av olika dokument (t.ex. företagsfilosofi, policydokument och personaltidningar). Den studerade utvecklingsenheten har en avancerad matrisorganisation där de flesta medarbetare har två chefer, en linjechef och en projektledare, vilket skapar en tämligen komplex situation.



Intervjuerna visar att både chefer och medarbetare tycker att kommunikation är mycket viktigt. Trots detta tycks de ofta försumma eller missförstå de kommunikativa aspekterna av sina respektive roller. Varken chefer eller medarbetare reflekterar särskilt mycket över om de har något kommunikationsansvar, och vad det i så fall innebär. Vidare ses kommunikation främst som teknisk överföring av information, och därmed vidtar man huvudsakligen tekniska eller strukturella åtgärder för att förbättra kommunikationen. Frågor som rör hur informationen tolkas och används ges inte någon större uppmärksamhet.



Mötesobservationerna visar att de studerade cheferna inte agerar uttolkare eller meningsskapare i någon större utsträckning utan ”bara” informationsspridare. Chefernas information är nämligen relativt kontext- och färglös. Att den är kontextlös innebär att informationen inte sätts in i något vidare sammanhang, vilket i sin tur betyder att den meningsskapande pendlingen mellan del och helhet saknas. Med färglös menar jag att de observerade cheferna inte arbetar särskilt mycket med den språkliga utformningen av sina budskap.



Huvuddelen av de observerade mötena ägnades åt envägskommunikation från chefens sida. Det förekommer inslag av genuin dialog, men merparten av tvåvägskommunikationen kan bäst beskrivas som en ganska ytlig form av dialog. Den tvåvägskommunikation som sker tar sin utgångspunkt i chefens eller ledningens budskap. Medarbetarnas inlägg och kommentarer utgör således främst en respons på eller spegling av det som chefen säger. Med andra ord följer mötena huvudsakligen en traditionell, hierarkisk struktur.



I avhandlingen presenteras också en typologi av olika sorters kommunikativt ledarskap som kan bidra till att belysa problem och möjligheter i kommunikationen mellan chef och medarbetare. Som en röd tråd genom större delen av avhandlingen löper dessutom en diskussion om hur den komplexa strukturen påverkar kommunikationen mellan chef och medarbetare. En av slutsatserna är att viktiga kommunikationsuppgifter tenderar att hamna mellan olika ledares stolar. (Less)
Abstract
The focus of this dissertation is communication between managers and subordinates in a modern organization. The research questions are concerned with ideas, practices and organizational conditions in relation to leadership communication.



My starting point for this study was the change in leadership philosophy that was introduced in many organizations at the beginning of the 1980s. This transformation involves a move from organizations based on hierarchies, rules and close supervision, to organizations built on loosely structured networks, decentralization, visions, and self-managed teams. The challenge for leaders is no longer to control the employees’ physical actions, but to manage their imaginations and... (More)
The focus of this dissertation is communication between managers and subordinates in a modern organization. The research questions are concerned with ideas, practices and organizational conditions in relation to leadership communication.



My starting point for this study was the change in leadership philosophy that was introduced in many organizations at the beginning of the 1980s. This transformation involves a move from organizations based on hierarchies, rules and close supervision, to organizations built on loosely structured networks, decentralization, visions, and self-managed teams. The challenge for leaders is no longer to control the employees’ physical actions, but to manage their imaginations and interpretations. Thus, leaders should no longer act as supervisors, but as managers of meaning, which calls for new and more difficult ways of communicating. One of my basic assumptions has been that dialogue and sense making are key concepts for leadership in a modern organization. I have carried out a qualitative study in a division for product development within Volvo Car Corporation. This division has a complex matrix organization, in which most employees have one line manager and one project leader. The study has mainly been based on interviews and observations of meetings.



The interviews indicate that both managers and employees often neglect or misunderstand the communicative aspects of their respective roles. Communication is mainly seen as transmission of information, and not as construction of meaning. Likewise, observations of meetings have indicated that, to a great extent, managers do not act as managers of meaning, but as ‘simple’ information disseminators. I have also argued that the dialogue between managers and their subordinates is of a superficial character. Another conclusion is that the complex matrix structure tends to create a situation in which important communication ‘tasks’ are neglected by both line managers and project leaders. On the basis of the empirical study I also present four ideal types of communicative leadership, which illuminate the kind of leadership communication that corresponds to the modern leadership philosophy. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
opponent
  • Associate Prof. Larsson, Larsåke, Örebro University
organization
alternative title
The communicative challenge. A study of communication between managers and employees in a modern organization.
publishing date
type
Thesis
publication status
published
subject
keywords
Press and communication sciences, matrix organization, organizational culture, organizational communication, sense making, dialogue, leadership, management of meaning, Journalistik, media, kommunikation
in
Lund Studies in Media and Communication
pages
272 pages
publisher
Department of Sociology, Lund University
defense location
Edens hörsal
defense date
2002-11-15 10:15
external identifiers
  • other:ISRN: LUSADG/SAMK--02/1006--SE
ISSN
1104-4330
ISBN
91-7267-131-9
language
Swedish
LU publication?
yes
id
4a79473b-3547-465a-8e12-c3290fb86e9d (old id 20871)
date added to LUP
2007-05-28 13:16:54
date last changed
2016-09-19 08:44:57
@phdthesis{4a79473b-3547-465a-8e12-c3290fb86e9d,
  abstract     = {The focus of this dissertation is communication between managers and subordinates in a modern organization. The research questions are concerned with ideas, practices and organizational conditions in relation to leadership communication.<br/><br>
<br/><br>
My starting point for this study was the change in leadership philosophy that was introduced in many organizations at the beginning of the 1980s. This transformation involves a move from organizations based on hierarchies, rules and close supervision, to organizations built on loosely structured networks, decentralization, visions, and self-managed teams. The challenge for leaders is no longer to control the employees’ physical actions, but to manage their imaginations and interpretations. Thus, leaders should no longer act as supervisors, but as managers of meaning, which calls for new and more difficult ways of communicating. One of my basic assumptions has been that dialogue and sense making are key concepts for leadership in a modern organization. I have carried out a qualitative study in a division for product development within Volvo Car Corporation. This division has a complex matrix organization, in which most employees have one line manager and one project leader. The study has mainly been based on interviews and observations of meetings.<br/><br>
<br/><br>
The interviews indicate that both managers and employees often neglect or misunderstand the communicative aspects of their respective roles. Communication is mainly seen as transmission of information, and not as construction of meaning. Likewise, observations of meetings have indicated that, to a great extent, managers do not act as managers of meaning, but as ‘simple’ information disseminators. I have also argued that the dialogue between managers and their subordinates is of a superficial character. Another conclusion is that the complex matrix structure tends to create a situation in which important communication ‘tasks’ are neglected by both line managers and project leaders. On the basis of the empirical study I also present four ideal types of communicative leadership, which illuminate the kind of leadership communication that corresponds to the modern leadership philosophy.},
  author       = {Simonsson, Charlotte},
  isbn         = {91-7267-131-9},
  issn         = {1104-4330},
  keyword      = {Press and communication sciences,matrix organization,organizational culture,organizational communication,sense making,dialogue,leadership,management of meaning,Journalistik,media,kommunikation},
  language     = {swe},
  pages        = {272},
  publisher    = {Department of Sociology, Lund University},
  school       = {Lund University},
  series       = {Lund Studies in Media and Communication},
  title        = {Den kommunikativa utmaningen : en studie av kommunikationen mellan chef och medarbetare i en modern organisation},
  year         = {2002},
}