ERIC Number: ED337821
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1991-Apr
Reference Count: N/A
On Organizational Theory and Practice: Some Lessons Learned from the Severely Mentally "Disabled."
Sprowl, John Parrish
Realizing that communications theory and research have little to do with organizational life, a communications scholar decided to become an organizational participant while still analyzing events and episodes in a scholarly way. In the spring of 1986, he joined the board of directors of Interface Precision Benchworks (IPB), a not-for-profit company whose mission was to demonstrate that all humans, even those with the most severe mental and physical difficulties, are capable of a fully functioning life if given the proper support. During the time the communications scholar was on the board, IPB decided to forget the benchmark model and changed to a for-profit, employee-owned business consisting of electronic assembly contractors making computer interface cables. The company used marketplace criteria as the definition of successful performance. Through the use of team management, team production, and statistical control processes, IPB achieved zero defects and on-time delivery. Lessons learned from this experience are: (1) a remarkable uniformity of product can result from widely diverse processes; (2) ethics and values are central to the decision-making processes at IPB--the people at IPB really care about other people and still get a job done; (3) organizational theorists and practitioners err when they use labels for people which attribute systemic effects to individuals; and (4) organizational scholars and practitioners alike need to move away from linear, reductionist language when describing organizational activities, toward a more process perspective. By reflecting on actual organizational practices such as the ones at IPB, communication scholars can begin to forge the link between theory and lived experience. (RS)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Reports - General
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Empowerment; Organizational Culture
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Eastern Communication Association (Pittsburgh, PA, April 25-28, 1991).