Book Review – Organizational Communication: Balancing Creativity and Constraint

Book review: Eisenberg, Eric. M. Organizational communication: balancing creativity and constraint. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2009.

Organizational Communication: Balancing Creativity and Constraint is a book written by Eric M. Eisenberg of the University of South Florida. This author continues joining the most contemporary and, at the same time, respected scholarship in the field of organization communication. The author embraces the significance of utilization of metaphor where creativity implies the impression of getting whatever one may want while constrain implies operating within established set of rules. The main intention of the author is to enable students in regard to accessing opportunities of practical application of the theories and concepts they learn inside classroom.

The book Organizational Communication: Balancing Creativity and Constraint is divided into three main parts: part I ‘Approaching Organizational Communication’, part II ’Theories of Organizational Communication’, and part III ‘Contexts for Organizational Communication’.  Part I contains two chapters that are significant for ensuring that readers get an overview of the discipline and concepts, which they require in order to comprehend the methods and ideas that the author presents throughout the book. Chapter I, which falls under part I talks about communication and the changing world of work. This chapter is significant for introducing organizational communication, providing reasons why it is a significant topic, and detailed description of the nature of work in the contemporary era. In this chapter, the author acknowledges that everyone has people surrounding him/her from the time of birth, and as they seek to understand them, they learn many things that include a sense of self, a culture, and a language. This chapter points out that organizational communication is the relevant interaction needed in order to direct organizational members towards the laid down objectives. This book; however, informs that this process does not happen automatically, instead a certain range of skills and ideas are needed in order to realize success. In regard to the changing world of work, the book emphasizes the need for understanding the manner in which this world has evolved including conditions to which human beings require adapting in order to know the kinds of communication that they need in order to survive in the changing world of work. The second chapter of part I is about ‘Defining Organizational Communication’, which evaluates four definitions that befit the concept. Besides, this chapter provides the impression of mindful and ethical dialogue as a productive approach regarding communication at the place of work.

Part II of the book is about “Theories of Organizational Communication”, which essentially covers five different theoretical views regarding organizational communication, which can motivate practice and research. Some of the theories discussed in the book include critical theory, information theory and post-positive theory. This part of the book contains three chapters: chapter 3, chapter 4 and chapter 5. Chapter 3 of the book is titled “Four Perspectives on Organizations and Communication” and it provides reviews of classical theories on organizations including systems of other relevant theories. This chapter, also, explores the implication of these theories for communication. The second chapter of part II is about “Cultural Studies of Organizations and Communications”, which embraces a common metaphor in anthropology and, also, adopted by many different organizations to evaluate the role that communication plays when it comes to creating, maintaining, and transforming the reality of organizations. The final chapter of part II of this book is about “Critical Approaches to Organizations and Communication”, which considers a unique approach in correcting and illuminating inequalities at the place of work. The author emphasizes his view that all research efforts require being directed towards illumination and correction of inequalities that exist at the place of work. This section of the book focusses on uneven distribution of privilege across class, gender, and race differences.

Part III of the book is about “Contexts for Organizational Communication”, through which the authors explore the different practical settings that can suit the application of the different theories described in the book. This part of the book contains four chapters: chapter 6, chapter 7, chapter 8, and chapter 9. Chapter 6 of the book is about “Identity and Difference in Organizational Life” through which the author views organizations as places that have intersecting and numerous identifications, and examines many ways in which differences are created. Chapter 7 is about “Teams and Networks: Collaboration in the Workplace”, which considers an incremental as well as radical efforts to utilize teams and networks in order to achieve successful organizations. Chapter 8, which is about “Communicating Leadership” aims to reframe leadership so that it appears as a communicative activity. It also reviews essential research in addition to suggesting practical aspects of efficient leader communication. The final chapter of the book is about “Organizational Alignment: Managing the Total Enterprise” in which the authors argue that increasing the efficiency of an organization demands appropriate communication. Finally, the book contains and appendix section titled “A Field Guide to Studying Organizational Communication”, which provides instructors and students with helpful process regarding planning, research, participation as well as writing the communication practices of an organization.

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