Constitutive Approaches to Communication

Blogging is a funny thing, you find out so many facets about yourself and your interests. For me, it was the blog I wrote on HR and what motivates staff. So, executive decision was to instead of focusing on all of the elements in a topic of communication, I’ll just focus on the ones that spark my interest, and best apply this, if possible, to HR. Making for a shorter, interesting and applicable application rather than a longer one. You with me? Lets go…

Constitutive approaches to communications, commonly known as CCO. Brief rundown on what this is: CCO sees scholars rejecting the idea of seeing the organisation as a thing or as a container that bounds communication processes, and instead looks at trying to understand the complicated process through which our interactions create, re-create, and change organisations as a whole.

There are a few studies that are linked to CCO, including the general ideas surrounding social constructionism and the structuration theory. Which looked at the concept of agency and structures, for example Miller uses the idea of a supermarket and the certain rules and etiquettes that surround the use of express lanes. These are the structures that contain our behaviors. However when a checkout person waves you into the express item lane with more than the restricted 12 items this enables the, then constraining behavior within social construction framework.

Pretty much it studies the unspoken social rules, and when the rules of an organisation break this. If you have a trolley full of food, you don’t go into the express lane, unless invited. 

The Montreal School of CCO embodies scholars focusing on CCO and the ideas surrounding it, have developed the concept of Text and Conversation, which looks at co-orientation as a form of CCO which is the process which people coordinate activity through interaction. In the CCO approach, conversation refers to ongoing interaction among individuals facilitated by language. Text refers to a substance or meaning and can take many forms such as a memo, mission statement or value for formality. Therefore, the goal expressed in the mission statement (text) could well influence what and how the interactions (conversations) occur during a strategy meeting.

This concept relates to HR practices, Mission Statements in an organisation can define and drive what employees work towards and what the organisation aims to achieve, as a result, this influences how employees act, converse and work as a team. Personally, in my working life at Target there has been changing mission statements as the business went through a period of change and development in line with the changing ideals of their customers. This mission statement was communicated with their staff effectively using the text and conversation methods of CCO and saw that the staff were talking about what the business was trying to do, and saw the adaption of their working methods in order to best achieve these goals.

mission statement.jpg

Think about your companies missions, goals and objectives, does this change the way you work?


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