In the Public Interest

Communication in Nonprofit Organizations

Authored by: Eric M. Eisenberg , Beth Eschenfelder

Routledge Handbook of Applied Communication Research

Print publication date:  June  2009
Online publication date:  July  2009

Print ISBN: 9780805849837
eBook ISBN: 9780203871645
Adobe ISBN: 9781135231798


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In his comprehensive review of the history of organizational communication, Redding (1985) traced the field’s expansion in the United States to an unprecedented “triple alliance” that emerged among industry, academia, and the military. Throughout the second half of the 20th century, the U.S. government supported extensive communication research aimed at helping organizations (especially military organizations) do a better job of identifying and developing potential leaders. Although support for this type of work ebbed over time, the idea that communication scholarship should directly impact organizational effectiveness did not. For this reason, early studies of organizational communication often have been criticized for their apparent managerial bias. Moreover, despite the roots of this research in the military, the organizations studied almost always were for-profit corporations in the private sector. As a result, nearly all of the initial organizational communication theories and concepts were informed exclusively by the for-profit experience (see the review of applied organizational research by Seibold, Lemus, Ballard, & Myers, this volume).

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