Unit 4 Study Guide: Organizational Communication

The following study guide is meant to help you prepare for the final exam. This material is for your practice and review only. You will not be asked to turn in your responses to the questions and activities below. As you work through these study guides, take note of your confidence level with the material. Ask yourself if you feel comfortable with your grasp of these topics, and take the suggestions for resources to re-watch or re-read seriously before proceeding to the final exam.

For your convenience, Microsoft Word and PDF files of this study guide are linked below.

4a: Identify the characteristics of organizations.


4a.1. What is the difference between small groups, teams, and organizations?

4a.2. Name and describe the five perspectives for understanding organizational communication.

Understanding this basic concept is key to our understanding of organizational communication. To review the definition and characteristics of organizations see Survey of Communication Study: “Chapter 11: Organizational Communication” found in subunit 4.1.


4b: Identify competencies in interpersonal communication that occurs in organizations.


4b.1. Define organizational communication.

4b.2. Identify five functions of organizational communication.

To review the definition and functions of organizational communication see Survey of Communication Study: “Chapter 11: Organizational Communication” found in subunit 4.1.


4c: Describe the interpersonal relationships between coworkers and their supervisors.

4c.1. Relationships in the workplace – between coworkers and between employees and supervisors – can create some challenges. Concepts we learned in Unit 2 (Interpersonal Communication) must be revisited in light of the power relationship between employees and supervisors and between coworkers.

A. Define self-disclosure in the workplace.

B. What types of conflicts occur in the workplace?

C. Describe the ways that we manage our emotions in the workplace.

D. What is the difference between evaluation and criticism?

E. How must our listening skills change when we engage in interpersonal communication with supervisors and coworkers?

To review your knowledge of communication among coworkers and between supervisors and subordinates, consider reviewing Dynamic SME’s video “Internal Communication” in subunit 4.1 and Business Communication for Success: Chapter 16: Intrapersonal and Interpersonal Business Communication” in subunit 4.3.

4c.2. Name and describe the five stages of the conversation model.

For more information about relationships between employees and supervisors in organizations, review Business Communication for Success Chapter 16: Intrapersonal and Interpersonal Business Communication found in subunit 4.3.


4d: Explain the differences between informal and formal messages.


4d.1. There are typically two communication networks through which messages travel within an organization.

A. Define the formal network and the informal network.

B. Explain the difference between formal and informal messages.

C. Who is more likely to share informal messages?

Meeting this outcome for the course requires you to synthesize information from across the course resources and appreciate the intentions and integrity of those crafting and sending messages within organizations. For a quick refresher of communication networks and messages, review NJIT Lecture 15: Communication in the Organization in subunit 4.4.


4e: Define the concept of information overload.


4e.1. Define the concept of information overload.

4e.2. Explain why information overload is a concern to organization productivity.

To check your understanding of this growing concern for organizations today, review the following three videos in subunit 4.5: Roxborough Pomerance, Nye & Adreani, LLP’s “Privacy in the Workplace”; SMBM Group’s “Social Media in the Workplace”; and Clark Morgan Insights: Mike Golden’s “Harness Social Media, Don’t Hinder It.”


4f: List ethical concerns regarding organizational communication.


4f.1. Ethical behavior is expected in all our communication transactions. It is a core competency for organizational communication. We often hear the cliché, “Knowledge is power.” The National Communication Association (NCA) code of ethics makes it quite clear that we are responsible for how we communicate and what we communicate and the consequences thereafter.

A. List ethical concerns that could be of concern in organizational communication.

B. Explain the key concepts of the NCA code of ethics as these apply to communicating in organizations.

To prepare for the final exam, be sure to review the ethical elements in Unit 1 as well as the following resources in Unit 4: Survey of Communication Study: Chapter 11: Organizational Communication found in subunit 4.1, Organizational Behavior: Chapter 8: Communication found in subunit 4.2, and the National Communication Association code of ethics in Stand up, Speak Out: Chapter 2: Ethics Matters in subunit 1.5.

Unit 4 Vocabulary List

This vocabulary list includes terms that might help you answer some of the review items above and some terms you should be familiar with to be successful on the final exam.



Defensive Climate



Negative entropy


Requisite variety



Supportive Climate


Last modified: Wednesday, July 17, 2019, 6:07 PM