ERIC Number: ED240648
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1983-Nov-11
Reference Count: 0
On the Desirability of an Interpretive Science of Organizational Communication.
Tompkins, Phillip K.
Concerned with imprecision in researchers' use of the word, "interpretive," this report draws from the work of Max Weber to describe the characteristics of an interpretive science of organizational communication and then briefly lists some advantages of following the interpretive approach. First examining the role of subjective meaning in organizational communication, the report suggests that actors' subjective meaning must take into account the behavior of others. It then defines two types of researcher understanding--observational and explanatory--and presents obstacles to understanding created by problems in interpreting actors' motivations. Referring to Weber, it states that an interpretive science must set forth statistical probabilities if it is to have causally adequate explanations, but that statistical probabilities yield nothing more than incomprehensive regularity unless they are accompanied by an interpretive understanding of actors' subjective meaning. The report then briefly cites two examples of incomprehensive regularity in interpersonal communication and network analysis research. Finally, the report presents the major advantages of the interpretive approach: it keeps researchers meaning centered, helps them avoid the compilation of sterile and incomprehensible regularities, and allows them to rise above observational understanding and achieve explanatory understanding. (MM)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Information Analyses; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Interpretive Approach
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Speech Communication Association (69th, Washington, DC, November 10-13, 1983).