Since organizations cannot exist without communication and interaction, organizational life is filled with communication activities that intersect with personal boundaries. Management and coordination, training, decision-making, and conflict are only a few examples. On another level, organizations are themselves the products of the constant processes of organizing. Thus, communication forms and maintains organizations by enabling the process of organizing. This course is designed to give students an intensive inquiry into systems theory as a way of understanding organizations as a function of communication and environment. Initially students review a variety of approaches which inform their understanding of organizational communication as it is practiced in the everyday life of organizations; however, the lion's share of the semester is spent studying intersections of communicating about and across systems and considering the impact of that communication on stakeholders. The course closes by considering the very basis for which the use of systems theory began'to understand the relationship of organizations to the environment. Of course how people conceptualize what counts as environment changes over the years so in particular the course focuses on the impacts organizational practices impose on our natural environment and how management might change those practices to create a sustainable environment.
Prerequisites: Permission of the instructor.