What is Organizational Communication?

A few short years ago, I was looking for a field of study that I would care about, that could launch me into a successful career. I came across a program offering an undergraduate education in Professional Communication, with a focus in Organizational Communication. But, I had no idea what either of those terms specifically meant or what I would learn.

I figured, the internet is an amazing infinitely robust information super center. So, I did the archetypal thing to do, by those with this consideration, and searched Google for the phrase: “What is Organizational Communication?”

What I got back was a bit over my head and not very useful for my initial intent or purpose. I found a wealth of rhetorical research and information about how organizations communicate.

But, I was only looking for the fundamentals to determine if I was even interested and maybe a bit of a sneak peek into what classes I could take, what my future career could be and how much money I could make.

I want to help you understand what I did in school and my thoughts on studying organizational communication, so that you are equipped and prepared to determine if this type of degree is a suitable fit for you.

So, here is a very high-level introduction and definition of what organizational communication is:

First, what is communication?
Very simply, communication is the process of sending and receiving all types of messages, both intentionally and unintentionally (spoken, viewed and otherwise perceived), to understand and be understood.

Every person has a desire and need to understand others and to be understood by others.

Second, what is organization?
Organization happens pretty naturally. People can organize without even identifying they’ve done it!

As a little kid, I organized with my sisters, brother and kids from my neighborhood to set up a lemonade stand. We had to coordinate to buy and sell. This is organization.

A very simple definition of organization would be, coordinating to do some task and/or produce some good. People are organizing a lot.

So, with those definitions of communication and organization, what is organizational communication?

Organizational communication is the act of communicating to organize and the study and research of those participating in that act. This is particularly important for families, businesses, non-profits and any other groups that want to produce something of value.

Fun fact: while studying and researching organizational communication, people are often also participating in organizational communication. I would call this meta organizational communication.

In the field of organizational communication it is widely thought that no organization can happen without communication. People must transfer messages amongst themselves to do anything productive together.

I loved learning about organizational communication!
I wish I would have had this insight before diving into my degree. But, I am so glad that I did it anyway. Pursuing this field of study has been highly valuable to my personal life and career.

I’ll tell you more about that another time. I’ll also explain:

  • more about my college experience
  • what topics I studied
  • what I specifically learned
  • what tasks I participated in
  • the careers that a graduate with a degree in organizational communication should be qualified for
  • my thoughts on those specificsĀ and more!

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