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Title:Between horses: An ethnographic study of communication and organizational culture at a harness racetrack
Author(s):Helmer, James Edward
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Husband, Robert L.
Department / Program:Communication
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Speech Communication
Abstract:Through qualitative field methods this case study explores the backstretch community of a harness racetrack to discover how organizational culture is constituted through communication. The study seeks to refine and extend the notion of "organizational communication as cultural performance" (Pacanowsky & O'Donnell-Trujillo, 1983) by pursuing questions such as What types of communicative performances occur in organizations? How do different contexts affect communicative performances? and How might organizational culture best be "captured" or analyzed?
A major part of this thesis is a "thick description" of life on the racetrack. Among the findings are that informal rituals are key structuring activities; that there are important differences between formal and informal organizational storytelling; and that a legitimate, primary function of organizational communication is to express, create, or sustain conflict. Categories of communicative performances that emerge from this study's data are bonding, control, dissonance, structure, and subsistence. Recognizing the inherent limitations of typologies, this researcher argues for the analysis of organizational cultures in terms of both communicative performances and themes. The study concludes with a discussion of how talk, when it leads to a high degree of meaning-sharing, may be dysfunctional for an organization.
Issue Date:1989
Rights Information:Copyright 1989 Helmer, James Edward
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI8916260
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI8916260

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