Prepared by Laurey Clampitt and Phillip G. Clampitt     
The University of Wisconsin – Green Bay and Metacomm


Key Concepts



Actual culture

The way an organization truly behaves. Chapter 4




The degree of vagueness in communication that can result in multiple interpretations. Ambiguity can be used for ethical or unethical purposes. Chapter 3



Anthropological mindset

An orientation focused on learning about other cultures to create a more skilled, effective and efficient learning experience. Chapter 8



Appraiser bias

Factors that may inhibit the clarity of a manager’s thinking process during an appraisal. These include biases such as leniency, fear of being judgmental, or a tendency to seek positive comments (see Table 7.4). Chapter 7



Arithmetic / geometric factor

The concept that describes what happens to the number of communication links when an organization adds departments. When an organization adds departments, the number of communication links increases geometrically (see Figure 8.2).  Chapter 8



Audience analysis

The identification of key groups of employees and how they will be affected by a message. Chapter 9



Change reaction stages

The typical stages employees experience during an organizational change. The stages are, in order or reaction: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance  (see Table 9.1). Chapter 9



Collaboration tools

Technologies, such as wikis or blogs, which allow employees and others to easily work together on tasks regardless of temporal and/or geographical separation. Chapter 5



Collaborative Communication

Communication that maintains critical relationships, accomplishes tasks, and advances organizational goals by encouraging discussion and creating an awareness of multi-perspective views of various issues and situations.  Chapter 8




The transmission and/or reception of signals through one or more channels that humans interpret through a probabilistic, context influenced system. Chapter 1



Communication audit

An extensive assessment and evaluation of communication practices, procedures, policies and effectiveness. Chapter 11



Communication strategy

The macro-level communication choices we make based on organizational goals and judgments about others’ reactions, which serve as a basis for action. Chapter 11




An individually developed element of the communication process. It is based on personal experience that emerges from complex interactions between people, situations, and personal relationships. Chapter 1



Contextual analysis

The study of organizational facts that strongly influence employees’ interpretations.  It is based on the organization’s history, its written and unwritten organizational rules, and previous communication patterns.  Chapter 9




A pattern of mutual adaptation to the rules of interaction in a particular situation. Chapter 2




The mutual ability to forecast, with some accuracy, the actions of others, their responses, and their interpretations of communications. Chapter 2



Core values

The values of an organization that form the foundation of its performance and conduct; what a company stands for. Chapter 4



Corporate culture

The underlying belief and value structure of an organization collectively shared by the employees and symbolically expressed in a variety of overt and subtle ways. Chapter 4



Corporate due process

An organizational safety valve that provides effective mechanisms and procedures for ensuring equity and justice among employees.  This process grants a neutral agency or person the power to investigate, adjudicate, and rectify a dispute. Chapter 3



C-R test

The test that answers, “Are the channels (fax, email, letter, etc.) utilized compatible with the receiver’s characteristics (channel access, personality)?” Chapter 5



Critical incident technique

A performance appraisal technique that focuses on employee behavior using specific examples or evidence (see Table 7.2). Chapter 7



Cross-functional team

A project team that comprised of people from different departments and with different functional expertise. Chapter 8



Cultural communication dimensions

Elements that define a culture’s orientation to communication.  Examples include a culture’s orientation to time, space and authority, (see Table 8.1). Chapter 8



Cycle of communication effectiveness

A process-oriented view of communication that highlights a continuous improvement cycle.  It begins with assessment, which leads to the development of a communication strategy, which results in implementation.  Repeating the cycle improves communication effectiveness. Chapter 11




Representations of reality. Chapter 6



Decision downloading

Communication about a major decision (such as mergers or divestitures) that has already been made.  Chapter 9



Defensive climate

A climate that inhibits communication effectiveness through evaluative comments, a dogmatic demeanor, and/or an attitude of superiority. Chapter 2



Discussion terminating retorts (DTR)

Remarks that stop further thought, discussion, and action. Chapter 11




Voicing disagreement with an organizational policy, procedure, practice, or decision. Chapter 3



Enduring success

An innovation that has been successfully implemented and organizational members understand the reasons for success. Chapter 10




A communication strategy that uses purposeful vagueness to encourage, motivate, or persuade; when considering difficult issues, equivocation unites people while allowing diversity and flexible freedom as changes occur. Chapter 3



Error correction processes

Mechanisms, such as quizzes or process tracking, which reveal and correct misperceptions and coordination problems. Chapter 8




A less offensive word or phrase used in place of one that may cause distress.  Euphemisms are sometimes used to obscure the truth. Chapter 3



Explicit knowledge

Knowledge that can be readily discussed and passed on. It is often expressed in terms of formulas, models, or rules-of-thumb. Chapter 6




An innovation that generates less-than-hoped-for results coupled with the organization not understanding or learning from the reasons for the poor results. Chapter 10



Feasibility analysis

The second stage of innovation that involves conducting experiments or test-runs to determine if an idea can work. Chapter 10




A lens through which issues are viewed. The frame alters probable interpretations of a message by highlighting certain images and refracting others. Chapter 1




The sharing or passing on of unconfirmed information about people. Chapter 3



Hidden Agendas

An undisclosed issue that hinders performance.  Hidden agendas are often interpersonal in nature. Chapter 2



Iceberg Model

A strategic approach to communicating change.  The model is based on four levels beginning with contextual analysis, continuing with audience analysis, following up with strategic design, and ending with tactical planning.  Chapter 9



Idea generation

The first stage of innovation that focuses on generating bold and novel ideas in a non-evaluative environment. Chapter 10



Informal communication

A free-flowing communication environment that encourages discussion across organizational boundaries and formal lines of authority. Chapter 10



Informal feedback

The day-to-day, pat-on-the-back supervisory feedback. Chapter 7




Data that provide clues or news directly relevant to the problem. Chapter 6



Insider Information

Material, nonpublic information that should not be shared outside the organizational boundaries. Chapter 3



Interpretation rules

The communicator’s rules for abstracting the meaning out of a message. Chapter 2



Job shadowing

Employees follow and observe colleagues to learn how their work is performed or how their actions affect another area or department. Chapter 8



Job switching

Employees from various departments switch jobs to experience and understand each other’s job. Chapter 8




A framework or schema to organize, evaluate and make sense of information.  Chapter 6



Knowledge-Sharing community

Strategically developed group of people brought together around a common area of expertise. Chapter 6



Lake Wobegon Phenomena

A tendency of managers to inflate employee ratings on performance.  Chapter 7



Law of large numbers

The concept that any message sent to enough people could be interpreted in almost any conceivable way. Chapter 1




Anonymous whistleblowing to influential sources, such as the press. Chapter 3



Lean channel

Impersonal communication channel, such as flyers or computer pop-up ads, that lacks one or more characteristics of rich channel communication.   Chapter 5




Key opinion leaders of employee groups. Chapter 9



M-C test

The test answers, “Are the messages sent compatible with the channels utilized?” Chapter 5



M-R test

The test answers, “Are the messages sent compatible with the receiver’s characteristics?” Chapter 5



One-minute praise

Immediate, “caught-in-the-act” feedback that provides constructive praise or guidance in a non-threatening environment. Chapter 7



Opinion leaders

Informal leaders, respected for their insight and expertise, who serve a vital and influential role in the employee social structure. Chapter 11




A situation in which the sender provides more information than the receiver desires. Chapter 9



Performance standards

A quantitative or qualitative measure of how well a task is performed.  Chapter 7



Potential success

An innovation that generates disappointing results but produces valuable knowledge. Chapter 10



Pulse process

A type of organizational assessment, consisting of relatively few questions, that is administered on a frequent basis. Chapter 11



Punctuation problems

A communication pattern that develops when each communicator sees the other as the source of conflict. Chapter 2



Reality testing

The stage in the innovation process that analyzes available resources and profit potential. Chapter 10




Reiterating a central message without replicating the precise language. Chapter 11



Regulation rules

Rules that guide the ongoing action of communication such as when to ask a question and when to terminate a conversation. Chapter 2




Saying or writing the exact same words to increase the probability that people will   remember and act on the message.  Note the difference between repetition and redundancy.  Chapter 11



Rich channel

A communication channel that provides rapid feedback, establishes a personal focus, and communicates multiple information cues.  Rich channels are recommended for persuading, managing conflict, or resolving complex issues. Chapter 5



Role counterparts

Individuals in different divisions or organizations who hold the same position (i.e. lawyers to lawyers, production managers to production managers, etc.).  Chapter 8




The sharing or passing on of unconfirmed information. Chapter 3



S-C test

The test answers, “Are the sender’s objectives compatible with the type of channels utilized?” Chapter 5



Secondary messages

The intended or unintended messages implied within primary messages. Chapter 1




A method of performance evaluation in which the employee appraises his or her own work. Chapter 7



Skilled incompetence

A communication concept used by managers to “get along” and “avoid conflict” with others; by using practiced routine behavior (skill), they produce what they do not intend (incompetence). Chapter 2



S–M test

The test answers, “Are the sender’s objectives compatible with the attributes of the intended message?” Chapter 5



Stated culture

The values the organization espouses. Chapter 4




Frequently relayed anecdotes or accounts of experiences that often communicate the core values of an organization. Chapter 4



Supportive climate

A climate that promotes communication effectiveness through spontaneity, equality, and adaptation. Chapter 2



Tacit knowledge

Knowledge that lies beyond our immediate awareness. It implicitly guides our decisions but is difficult to share with others. Chapter 6



Talking in the circle

A communication strategy that enhances productive discussions by focusing communication on what is acceptable (vs. what is not acceptable) to talk about. Chapter 11



Task inherent feedback

The work itself provides feedback about the effectiveness level. Chapter 7



Temporary success

An innovation that meets or exceeds expectations, but the reasons for its success are unclear, unknown, or not recognized by the organization. Chapter 10



Thinking routine

The thought process leaders use to make decisions.  It includes determining what factors to consider, how they are weighed, what tradeoffs are made, and why.  Chapter 11



Trade Secret

Legitimate corporate secrets, such as research and development, marketing strategies, and corporate practices that are not shared with the public. Chapter 3




A situation in which the sender provides less information than the receiver requires. Chapter 9



What channel

A communication channel that focuses on the message to emphasize information and idea sharing.  Examples of “what” channels include email, web pages, electronic bulletin boards, and computer conferencing.  Chapter 5



Whistle swallowing

The choice to remain silent about corporate abuses, safety hazards or negligence. Chapter 3




Providing information to the media or a government agency regarding corporate abuses, safety hazards, or negligence. Chapter 3



Who channel

A communication channel that underscores the relational element in a communication event.  Examples of “who” channels include group meetings, formal presentations and social networking. Chapter 5




What’s In it For Me?; Communicating how a decision impacts employees. Chapter 9




What’s In it For the Organization?; Communicating how a decision impacts the organization. Chapter 9




Software that enables users to collaboratively edit the content of Web pages.  Chapter 5