ORGC 316 Hirokawa Part II W12 - Week 4


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Hirokawa et al. Part II: Theories of Small Group Communication By Sherri L. Ter Molen

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Welcome Back! This week, we’re looking at how groups make decisions, achieve goals, & overcome problems. These are not easy tasks! On the next slide, you’ll see the learning goals for this week. Following, I will go over some of the hot topics from this week’s readings. 1

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Learning Objectives To identify three of the pinnacle theories of small group communication To apply these theories to stories that provide examples To give your own examples of the application of these theories to your own experiences in our discussion forum 2

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3 Hirokawa et al. Part II addresses three important theories in small group communication. We’ll begin by thinking about these theories in face-to-face (f2f) groups, but then we’ll move into relationship networking in digital environments. The first theory is…

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Functional Theory of Communication in Decision-Making & Problem-Solving Groups 4 A.K.A. The Functional Perspective!

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Nope! This is systems theory, a theory introduced last week. You can review it on p. 3 of Hirokawa et al. Correct! This definition can be found on Hirokawa et al. p. 27! Is functional theory…. 5 or

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Assumptions of the Functional Perspective 6 Group members are motivated to make the best choices possible. The choice to be made isn’t obvious. Group members have access to information & resources necessary for successful task completion. Group members possess the communication & cognitive skills necessary for dealing with the various aspects of the decision-making or problem-solving processes.

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Propositions of the Functional Perspective Additionally, successful decision making & problem solving occurs when: The 5 fundamental task requirements are met. What are they? Group members know how to overcome obstacles. What kinds of obstacles? Group members are able to review the process & are willing to_____ if necessary. 7 The answers can be found on pp. 29-34 of Hirokawa et al!

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A Copy Machine Company Case Sunbal, Juan, Chris, & Ji Hoon work together at a copy machine sales & distribution center. They have been charged with planning the next sales contest. 8 Sunbal thinks that the winner should be the person who sells the greatest variety of products. Juan thinks that the winner should be the person who has the highest billable sales as usual. Chris is afraid to voice her opinion. Ji Hoon says he likes both ideas.

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Our Friends at the Copy Machine Company From a functional perspective, Sunbal, Juan, Chris, & Ji Hoon… 9 all want to come up with a great sales contest! have a budget provided by the company to buy a prize and to promote the contest. have experience putting together sales contests and have worked together successfully in the past. They understand the task. They know the sales contest has to have a structure & a prize. They know their alternatives are limited. They will ultimately choose the option that makes the most sense!

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Symbolic Convergence Theory 10 A.K.A. Something else to remember! Another small group communication theory is…

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Way to go! This is it! But what does it mean??? You can read more about it on p. 39 of Hirokawa et al! Sorry! This describes synergy. Remember that term from last week? Synergy is discussed on pp. 5 & 6 of Hirokawa et al. Is symbolic convergence theory…. 11 or

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Fantasy is stranger than fiction! Fantasy? Yes, that’s right. However in this sense, fantasy most likely will be about real people and real situations rather than dreams of being able to fly or possess super powers. And symbolic convergence is just a fancy way of saying that group members all understand what the others are talking about. 12

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Our Friends at the Copy Machine Company For example, Sunbal, Juan, Chris, & Ji Hoon are taking a break. Chris hears their manager, Martina, coming down the hall. 13 Chris says, “Hermione Granger.” Ji Hoon & Sunbal quickly finish sending text messages. Juan immediately and loudly interjects that he thinks the sales prize should be an iPad. The team refers to Martina as Hermione Granger because she’s all about rules & hard work like the character from the Harry Potter series. The name “Hermione Granger” was the symbol. Each group member understood that this symbol meant that Martina was near and that they should get back to work. Because they agreed on the meaning of the symbol, this is an example of symbolic convergence!

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Structuration Theory 14 A.K.A. Yet another theory to memorize! Yet another small group communication theory is…

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This is systems theory again. Please refer back to p. 3 of Hirokawa et al. Right on! You can read more about structuration theory on p. 49 of Hirokawa et al. Is structuration theory…. 15 or

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Hirokawa et al. (2003) Chapter 6 Definitions There are a lot of terms in Hirokawa et al. Chapter 6. Do you know all of them? I’ve made digital flashcards for you. Click on the link above to try them out. You’re not being graded, & I’ll never know how poorly or how well you do with them. You might as well click the link! I double dog dare ya! 16

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Our Friends at the Copy Machine Company Let’s look at structuration theory this way. After Martina checks in on the sales contest meeting, she heads over to the Accounting Dept. 17 Martina has only been with the company for about six months, but the five members of the Accounting Department have been with the company for more fifteen years. Because Martina has experience with similar accounting practices from her past job, she has has some ideas about how to streamline some of the department processes. These ideas could save the department time and the company money. However, Pete is the supervisor of the department, and he says, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” He resists change. Mable, Veronica, Johan, and Jim always defer to Pete even when they are offered a chance to voice their opinions.

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Our Friends at the Copy Machine Company The process of structuration is complex, & it includes four very specific ideas. 18 The members of the Accounting Department have strong relationships with each other because they’ve worked together for a long time. It’s important to this group that they stand together behind Pete’s decisions. The rules & resources are continuously reproduced in this group because the members always follow the same rule—Follow Pete’s lead! Yet even if Pete & his department want to resist change, they may have to make changes because Martina is ultimately in charge. She’s the manager of the whole facility. For an additional case study, re-read pp. 52-53 of Hirokawa et al!

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Do these theories apply in virtual groups too? 19 What we consider “new media” hasn’t been around very long (Thus the name: new media!), & communication theorists are still trying to figure out if the old f2f theories apply in virtual groups. Some theorists are trying to develop new theories specifically for communication conducted through digital technologies. What do you think? }{ Quick Fact: Two brackets facing each other is the emoticon for face-to-face!

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What we do know is relationships still matter! 20 What we do know is that virtual relationships matter just like the f2f relationships between the members of the Accounting Department at the copy machine company. In the short Barnes article from last week, she asserts that we need to teach how to build relationships in today’s society. She places a tremendous amount of value in relationship capital.

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Our Friends at the Copy Machine Company Juan is a member of the company’s North America sales team, & he’s based in Chicago. 21 Juan is 24 years old. He lives in Edgewater and works from his home three days a week. He only goes into the Loop office two days a week. He has great sales contacts in Vancouver, Los Angeles, New York, & Mexico City, and he is a rising sales person. He works hard to build relationships with these contacts because he knows that relationships are often what drives sales. Juan knows how to build relationship capital because he was a Communication major, & he took the time to read Barnes (2009) Relationship networking: Society & education when he took an online class at DePaul University.

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Our Friends at the Copy Machine Company What are the eight factors that Juan knows & that you should know? Barnes (2009) taught us these last week! 22 With the decline of the U.S. economy & the shift in wealth to a minority elite class, the values in the U.S. are changing. “[M]arkets can be considered conversations.” This means that people around the world can work together virtually without being tied to a geographic location. Younger people rely more on digital communications than f2f interactions. Researchers are just beginning to study & understand virtual relationships.

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Our Friends at the Copy Machine Company What are the eight factors that Juan knows & that you should know? 23 “The government is funding more projects that relate to technology & human interaction.” As our previous social systems change with technology, we are becoming more concerned with developing & maintaining relationships. Universities don’t regularly teach relationship networking, but this is how people conduct business! (Aren’t you lucky that you’re being taught this right now?) Relationship networking builds relationship/social capital. In other words, the stronger relationships you have, the more successful you’ll be!

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Imagine! Juan is lucky. He has the technology such as his computer & smart phone to communicate with his sales contacts. He also has the education to know how to leverage relationships in digital environments, & he also understands small group communication theory! What if Juan didn’t have all this technology & education? 24

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Does everyone have access? Not everyone has access to the resources that Juan has in the U.S. let alone in other parts of the world. On the other hand, people in some parts of the world are using these technologies in amazing ways. Think about these possibilities in relation to the YouTube videos you watched last week. YouTube – Business tv Penny Power –why making friends online is easy YouTube -- CNN-Indonesia Twitter and Facebook Nation YouTube -- New Cable to Boost Internet Access in Africa 25

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Therefore, f2f & virtual relationships matter! How will you cultivate & manage your relationships? 26

Summary: ORGC 316 Hirokawa Part II W12 - Week 4 - Sherri Ter Molen

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