Organisational Communication / Corporate Communication – The Five Questions: when? why? what? where? how?

Corporate communication and organisational communication are sometimes interchangeably used, as is the case with van Riel and Fornbrun (2007:14) who stated, “we propose the concept of corporate communication as an integrative communication structure linking stakeholders to the organisation” but also state van Riel and Fornbrun (2007:13), “Not all of the communications in an organisation are work-related, nor are they necessarily relevant to fulfilling organisational objectives.”

Are Corporate Communication and Business Philosophy really only oxymorons? Goodman (1994:4) points out, “organisations of all sorts and sizes which are committed to communicating with their employees have a communicational philosophy.”

Hargie and Tourish (2009:25) also ask a fundamental question in business ethics (another oxymoron?), “what can be gained from a proactive focus on communication, both internally and externally (…) when staff are treated as dispensable liability, customers as little more than a damned nuisance and suppliers as potential industrial spies?”

As with most things in life, when a change has to be brought about within an organisation, one has to be prepared to be confronted with opposition to such change. Lets not forget the adage,”better the devil you know than the one you don’t.”

However, it is also a known fact that if an organisation continues to progress with the above cited facts and sayings, then it is, sooner or later, going to run into troublesome times which are going to be directly

proportional to the size of the company and the amount of time that such beliefs are put to practice.

Barker and Angelopulo (2006:122) point out, “Without exception, changes in the external environment(s) necessarily require changes in the internal environment(s) of an organisation, thus having a direct bearing (positive or negative) on the communication networks with employees.”

So we can safely deduce that as we evolve in time, the outside environment of an organisation evolves too, and the inside of the organisation has to evolve too. The best way for an organisation to keep evolving with the times and to make sure that there won’t be any “black sheep” or “spin off” organisations, the communication has to be up to date and in tune with the times.

Another aspect that affects the communication and can be tantamount to the organisation’s progress is the multicultural aspect of it’s human resources. As more and more multinational companies take over or run out local businesses, locals are in a constant tussle with executives out to preach the multinational’s gospel which originate from the headquarters.

We have also to consider, as Blundel and Ipolito (2008:43) point out, “the danger of relying on shorthand, stereotypical accounts of cultures that ignore local and individual-level factors and the reality that cultures are  dynamic and constantly changing.”

As a result, we now not only have times to evolve with but dynamic cultures to adapt to. This means that communication has to have a common denominator – the message – as the words are adapted to the environment’s times and culture.

“Designing the workplaces have placed more emphasis on the technical systems, the tools, techniques, procedures and devices used by the workforce and have tended to overlook opportunities to redesign technologies to meet the needs of people” argue (Pasmore, Francis, Haldemann and Shani, 1982; Goodman, 1994:45).

In conclusion, we can say that:

– corporate communication and organisational communication as a whole should be proactive, that it has to evolve with the times, the environment and the oirganisation’s dynamic culture as its demographics and human resources evolve, and in continuing with this last point, that technologies should be adapted to the people who use them rather than trying to adapt people and their tools to the organisation’s evolving processes.


Barker,R and Angelopulo,G.,(2006), Integrated Organisational Communication, Juta & Co, Cape Town, RSA, available at accessed September 2011

Blundel,R and Ipolito,K.,(2008),Effective Organisational Communication:Perspectives, Principles, Practices, 3rd ed, Pearson Education, Harlow, UK, available at accessed September 2011

Goodman, M.B.,(1994), Corporate communication: theory and practice, State University New York Press, available at accessed October 2011

Hargie,O and Tourish,D,(2009),Auditing Organisational Communication: A Handbook of Research,Theory and Practice, Routledge, Hove, UK available at accessed October 2011

van Riel, C.B.M., and Fornbrun, C.J.,(2007), Essentials of Corporate Communication: implementing practices for effective reputation management, Business and Economics, Routledge, Hove, UK, available at accessed September 2011