Some Bibliographic Measures of Organization as Communication

Now that we have a group on organization as communication at Mendeley to keep the respective bibliography in one place, it’s time to look beyond the boundaries of our frequently-cited references. I’ve prepared a quick-and-dirty bibliographic analysis of the past 45 years of research on organization and communication for last week’s meeting at the University of Zurich, so let me walk you through it.

Using the search term organi[z,s]ation AND communication in the ISI Web of Science database, I got more than 8,918 articles. I immediately dropped all articles from obviously unrelated fields of neuroscience, pedagogy, and the like, which left me with a good 2,000+ articles and a first histogram:

Histogram of Articles on Organization and Communication

Next, I looked at the coauthorship network of 4,168 coauthors on 1,949 articles. Pretty dense!

Full Coauthorship Network

Hidden to the eye, but right there in the numbers are four large components of the coauthorship network. I inspected each one of them briefly by looking at the central coauthors, the articles they wrote together, and the journals these articles were published in. Thus, I was able to label each one of the four large components: (1) communication for organization, (2) communication in organization, (3) communication of organization, and (4) communication as organization. Check out the components below.

The labeling is admittedly very crude, but nonetheless it provides you with a good idea of the approach each one of the research fields (i.e., components) is taking to communication and organization:

(1) Communication for organization is the most obvious component, not just because it is the largest of them all. The basic idea here is that communication is more or less a means to achieve organizational ends. These ends may be The Role of Communication in Managing Reductions in Work Force or Informational Influence in Organizations: An Integrated Approach to Knowledge Adoption.

Component 1 - Communication for Organization

(2) Communication in organization takes upon the notion that communication is an organizational process next to many others. Thus, we find articles such as Information Processing in Traditional, Hybrid, and Virtual Teams: From Nascent Knowledge to Transactive Memory and Central Agencies in the Diffusion and Design of Technology.

Component 2 - Communication in Organization

(3) Communication of organization characterizes organizations as collective actors that communicate with their environment. Communication is mostly understood as the voice of an organization. Articles then bear titles like Analyzing Communication In and Around Organizations and Government and Corporate Communication Practices: Do the Differences Matter?.

Component 3 - Communication of Organization

(4) Communication as organization (or, they way we put it, organization as communication) is the smallest, but at the same time youngest component. It comprises all the coauthors well know to us and the the papers found in our above mentioned bibliography. The notion of communication, of course, is that it constitutes organization, thus effectively putting the two concepts en par.

Component 4 - Communication as Organization

Most interestingly to the component is that the two most central scholars are Francois Cooren and Gail Fairhurst, who seem to be holding the research field together. Now, that is only half the truth as none of the many coauthored chapter from edited volumes are in the data, just articles from journals. Hence, scholars such as Jim Taylor and Linda Putnam appear somewhat on the periphery of the component.

I must leave it up to future research to take a closer look, but that may not be too far off.

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