Greg G. Armfield

Students often comment about struggling with the concept of organizational communication. The primary reason for this is that college students have very limited organizational experiences and those experiences they have had involve extremely limited interaction with an organization’s culture. The typical college student will work a myriad of part-time jobs, many of which are not related to their future career choice. For example, my first paid job that was not for my father’s business was washing dishes at a Chinese restaurant. My second job was making shakes and flipping burgers at a fast-food restaurant call Braum’s. By the time I was a traditional college student I was working for a retail drug store. Not until I moved into a part-time management role at that drug store was I really engaged with the culture of the organization and understood many of the managerial responsibilities. The typical student that works as a waiter/waitress, stocks shelves, or works fast-food collects a check and is oblivious of the organization’s culture. Furthermore, the typical part-time employee is not included in organizational decisions and typically only receives vertical downward communication while participating minimally in vertical upward communication unless they are asking questions or seeking clarification.

However, the reality is, unless you are literally a hermit you are affected by an organization every day of your life. Even if you are self-employed, work by yourself, or are unemployed, you interact with organizations. Did you wake up to an alarm this morning? That device was made by an organization. Did you take a shower? Brush your teeth? Drink a glass of water? The water you used was most likely supplied by your local municipality (an organization). The same goes for the electricity or gas that you used to heat your water. Did you eat? Unless you grow your own food, your meal was the product of a complex system of organizations working together to bring that meal to you. For these reasons, it is important to learn about organizational communication so you are better prepared to assimilate into organizational life.

Greg G. Armfield

There are three common types of organizations. The most common is the for-profit organization. For-profit organizations are primarily concerned with making money or net profits. This includes private, employee owned, and publicly traded companies. The second type of organization is nonprofit. A nonprofit organization focuses on providing services or products without the goal of making money or turning a profit. The last type of organization is a not-for-profit organization. This type of organization can sell goods and services at higher rates than are needed for organizational stability (unlike a true nonprofit) without the desire to truly make a profit (unlike a for-profit). All funds that exceed organizational stability (salaries, supplies, property, etc.) in a not-for-profit organization are donated back to a true nonprofit organization (Richmond & McCroskey, 2009).

 you can see a representation of the primary organizational structure of Homeland Security and follow a link to see a more extensive representation of each unit.

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