Transcending the Transmission Model of Communication

Tracing back the emerging CCO perspective (“communication constitutes organizations”) to some of its origins: In a 1984 AMR article, Axley shows that most publications in management and organization studies at least implicitly draw on an instrumental understanding of communication (what he refers to as the “conduit metaphor” of communication; or what also has come to be called the “transmission model” of communication). Here, communication is simply a tool for transporting packages of meaning from one place to another. The constitutive perspective of communication (as outlined by Craig, 1999), in contrast, conceives communication as the fundamental mode of social reality and, of course, also organizations: “Communication is theorized as a process that  produces and reproduces – and in that way constitutes – social order“ (Craig, 1999: 128). For more info, here you will find the presentation I held at the First Meeting of the OaC Network in Hamburg (partly in German): Presentation Instrumental vs. Constitutive View of Communication.

  • Axley, S. R. (1984). Managerial and Organizational Communication in Terms of the Conduit Metaphor. Academy of Management Review, 9(3), 428-437.
  • Craig, R. T. (1999). Communication Theory as a Field. Communication Theory, 9(2), 119-161.
  • Video of the presentation (in German)


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