Dissertations and Theses @ UNI


Open Access Thesis


Communication in organizations; Communication in education;


A rules-based paradigm of communication has received increased interest from communication researchers. A rules-based model of organizational communication was only recently introduced and, therefore, suffered from a lack of empirical bases. This study reviews the theoretical bases of a rules approach to organizational communication, reviews a model of organizational communication, and tests that model in a case study of a department within a midwestern university. Furthermore, this study extends the concept of archetypes, an abstract level of meaning in a hierarchically structured model of meaning and action.

Three research questions are analyzed: (1) What is the degree of consensus between the faculty's formally derived collective archetype for student competence and the students' interpretation of that archetype? (2) Does the level of the person in the organization affect his/her interpretation of behaviors within the organization? (3) Within an organization, will member violation of rules associated with task procedures be judged differently than member violation of social procedures?

The collective organizational archetypes are defined by asking the organization's members: "What traits, attitudes, and characteristics do students possess which make them competent?" Collective archetypes are also examined at an episodic level of activity. Students and faculty participants read four episodes reflecting task-social and consistent-inconsistent variables. The linkages between the archetype and episode levels are represented as rules for behavior in the department.

The results identify two sources of collective archetypes. The sources of archetypes are the informal and formal organizations.

The results also affirmed that the length of service in the department affects how organization members interpret the organization's archetypes. It is also discovered that member violation of task rules are judged more harshly than member violation of social rules but that the strength of either sanctions or rewards depends on the power of the contextually bound violation.

It is recommended that additional research be conducted defining the archetypes of organizations. Defining organizational archetypes produces the generality necessary to standardize analysis beyond organizational boundaries yet specifies the necessity for individual organizational analysis.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Department of Theatre


Department of Speech

First Advisor

Forrest Conklin


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Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (159 pages)



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