by Kylie Benjamin and Jennifer Lusk

As senior Strategic and Corporate Communication majors, we have taken a wide variety of courses over the last three years at Chapman University. One of our favorite courses that we have taken within the School of Communication was COM 410, Organizational Communication with Dr. Kerk Kee. 

Dr. Kerk Kee teaches COM 410 in the School of Communication. IIIf you recognize him on campus, stop him to ask about the class!

The description of this course is, A mix of theory and practice of interpersonal communication in organizational settings. Major research theories are experienced through analysis of case studies and guided role-play of typical situations in organizations.” This class is discussion based, and everyone sits in a circle to share their opinions on the readings through daily assignments called Think Pair Shares. This is very useful because these assignments bring the concepts we are taught in our textbooks to life. Each day we heard different experiences and points of view on a wide range of topics.

Looking back on this course, there are specific concepts that stood out to us. Specifically, learning the various approaches to management (eg. classical, human relations, human resources, and advocacy) was extremely useful as we embark on our job and internship searches. Classical approaches to management are seen to be very “black and white”, and the assumption of management is that employees are there to work, nothing more than that. Some aspects of these classical approaches to management include planning, organizing, command, and coordination. The next topic we discussed in our Organizational Communication class was the human relations approach to management. When this approach is used, there is a very different relationship between management and lower level employees. Managers see workers as individuals with higher and lower order needs. These higher order needs are the most important to workers, and these include self actualization and esteem needs. Lower order needs include safety, physiological, and social needs. Thirdly, the most complex approaches to management are the human resources approaches. Here, all workers are seen as complex, unique individuals who have valuable ideas to contribute. The fourth concept that we found applicable to the workplace is advocacy. We spent a large portion of the class talking about advocacy from our book, “Advocacy: Championing Ideas and Influencing Others” by John A Daly. One main point that stood out to us was that it is harder to get a good idea accepted than to get a good idea. This can be applied in any work situation when dealing with persuading someone to care about your issue. The main components of advocacy mentioned in the book are to communicate clearly, build credibility, create partnership, pre-sell your ideas, and influence others.

It is obvious that all of these concepts are very applicable to any workplace environment.  With the knowledge obtained from Organizational Communication, Chapman University SoC students will be prepared for any type of management style. Additionally, the Chapman student will have the tools to go into a management position and know which approach to management works best for their environment.

Kylie explains how her experience in Organizational Communication helped her land an internship offer:

Last semester I was looking for summer internship opportunities. I came upon an internship posting with a credit union in San Diego. The title was Business Development Intern. One of the main roles of this internship was to look at the organization and determine how communication can be improved within departments. I had the opportunity of interviewing with the company and since I had been taking Organizational Communication at the time I was able to apply the concepts we had been learning to improving the communication within the organization. The company was super impressed that this was a course I had taken at Chapman and my experience with the content. Although I ended up taking a different position, I left that experience knowing that what I have been learning in my SoC courses has prepared me for the real world and a wide variety of opportunities.-Kylie Benjamin