Communication as a process whereby decisional premises are transmitted from one member of an organization to another. According to Simon, Without communication there can be no organization, for there is no possibility then of the group influencing the behaviour of the individual. The decision making process is aided by the organizational Communication system. Data and information are transmitted to the decision-maker through the communication channels. The decision-maker can thus be likened to an information processing system.
Communication is a process, and information is the ‘thing’ that is communicated. The word ‘communication’ is derived form Latin ‘communis’ which means ‘common’. In a communication process, the sender of information seeks to establish commonness with the receiver of information. Lets see communication as the use of words, letter, symbols or some other means to have common information about any object of attention. Three aspects deserve emphasis in this connection.
- Firstly, when interacting with others, words, letters, etc. are used.
- Secondly, two or more persons are involved in communication.
- Thirdly, the interaction process is motivated by sharing of information towards a common end.
The contemporary approach to communication has been greatly influenced by cybernetics, a term coined by the famous mathematician Nobert Weiner in 1947. Following almost a Hobbesian line of analysis, Weiner lays emphasis on the natural tendency toward disorder and disintegration in society., Entropy is a measure of the tendency of a system to disintegrate.
Since entropy has a natural tendency to increase, it has to be fought back, by methodical information processing which is the hallmark of organization. Information is an antidote to entropy. In a developed system, information is used, to collect and transform. resources so that the system approaches a state of “negative entropy”. The natural tendency of the system to disintegrate is thus arrested. Weiner’s theme is that man can control and modify his environment only through information, and this information is transmitted via messages. He also introduces the idea of monitoring a system via a feedback mechanism that signals deviations form the objectives of the system. The flow and feedback of information has a significant effect on human behaviour. The permitted degree of feedback will increase with a manager’s uncertainty about handling the problem.
The concern with communication has produced several attempts to develop models of the process. The most widely used model has evolved from the work of Shannon and Weaver, and Schramm. The basic ingredients of the model include a source, an encoder, a message channels, a decoder, a receiver, feedback, and noise. The source is usually a member with ideas, information, and a purpose for communicating. The function of encoding is to provide a form in which ideas and purposes can be expressed as a message for transmittal. The message is the actual physical product that is conveyed.
Channels stand for the carriers of messages from the source to the receiver, including written, telephonic and numerous other modes. The message must be decoded in terms of relevance to the receiver. Each receiver decodes or interprets the message in the light of his own previous experiences and frame of reference.
A feedback loop provides a channel for receiver response. This enables the source to determine whether the message has been received and has produced the planned response.
Within the communication process, breakdown, interference, or deviation can occur. Shannon and Weaver were the first to identify this concept as noise. They defined noise as being those factors that distort the quality of the signal. In the behavioural science context, noise includes those factors in each of the elements of communication that can reduce message fidelity.