ERIC Number: ED122318
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1976
Reference Count: 0
Distortion of Subordinate to Superior Communication in Organizational Settings.
Krivonos, Paul D.
Message biasing of upward communication in organizational hierarchies has been an ongoing concern of communication researchers. The purpose of this study was to analyze this distortion in actual message from subordinates to superiors in simulated situations and to determine the effects of favorable and unfavorable situations on message content. Subordinates of 66 supervisors from two large manufacturing companies were asked to compose messages for their superiors, given the following situations: Task related/favorable to the subordinate, task related/unfavorable to the subordinate, non-task related/favorable to the subordinate, non-task related unfavorable to the subordinate. Data were measured by independent judges for additions, deletions, and changes, as well as for overall subjective impression. As hypothesized, judges perceived more distortion in task related unfavorable situations. Surprisingly, in non-task related unfavorable situations, a low level of distortion was found. A possible explanation for this discrepancy is the "pratfall effect," that is, in the organizational setting one way to increase credibility is to admit to human error. Since the superior has less influence in the non-task situation, this presents the best opportunity for utilization of this strategy. (KS)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the International Communication Association (Portland, Oregon, April 1976)