Den kommunikativa utmaningen : en studie av kommunikationen mellan chef och medarbetare i en modern organisation
Sammanfattning: The focus of this dissertation is communication between managers and subordinates in a modern organization. The research questions are concerned with ideas, practices and organizational conditions in relation to leadership communication. My starting point for this study was the change in leadership philosophy that was introduced in many organizations at the beginning of the 1980s. This transformation involves a move from organizations based on hierarchies, rules and close supervision, to organizations built on loosely structured networks, decentralization, visions, and self-managed teams. The challenge for leaders is no longer to control the employees’ physical actions, but to manage their imaginations and interpretations. Thus, leaders should no longer act as supervisors, but as managers of meaning, which calls for new and more difficult ways of communicating. One of my basic assumptions has been that dialogue and sense making are key concepts for leadership in a modern organization. I have carried out a qualitative study in a division for product development within Volvo Car Corporation. This division has a complex matrix organization, in which most employees have one line manager and one project leader. The study has mainly been based on interviews and observations of meetings. The interviews indicate that both managers and employees often neglect or misunderstand the communicative aspects of their respective roles. Communication is mainly seen as transmission of information, and not as construction of meaning. Likewise, observations of meetings have indicated that, to a great extent, managers do not act as managers of meaning, but as ‘simple’ information disseminators. I have also argued that the dialogue between managers and their subordinates is of a superficial character. Another conclusion is that the complex matrix structure tends to create a situation in which important communication ‘tasks’ are neglected by both line managers and project leaders. On the basis of the empirical study I also present four ideal types of communicative leadership, which illuminate the kind of leadership communication that corresponds to the modern leadership philosophy.
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