Monday, 22 July 2013

Management Team Communication

While I've been going through and analysing my data I've found some interesting stuff about management teams. I've been reading one interesting PhD where the author studied management teams and how dialogue is created within the management team meetings. 

The following picture is taken from the PhD (Erkkilä, 2012, p.97) and re-drawn for this blog. The matrix describes the management team communication based on the length and number of speech acts (in this case only the verbal ones). As I like all sorts of matrixes and find them useful when working with people, I hope this will be useful for you as well!

Dialogic management team communication (multi-voiced and symmetric):
All participants are actively involved and participation is balanced between the management team members. The lenght of speech acts is equal: everyone uses a similar amount of time to speak. Also, there are no long speech acts that would take a lot of space from the overall communication. The focus lies in the overall functionality of the whole team. The dialogic way of working can be seen as the ideal one if the objective is to create new knowledge and thinking.

Centric/Focused management team communication (mono-voiced and symmetric):
Only some people are participating and contributing, whereas some people are passive. The speech acts of the ones participating are symmetric and it’s not expected or necessary for everyone to participate actively. Team members can focus on the relevant issues which do not require everyone’s attention. Team members may choose to be silent if it’s not relevant for them to contibute.

Dispersed/Scattered management team communication (multi-voiced and polar):
All team members participate but the most important for them is to take a stand and say something whether it is relevant or not. There is variation between the lenght of speech acts. A typical situation for this type of management team communication occurs when the issues at hand don’t necessarily require everyone’s contribution but the team members can not focus on the relevant issues or stay silent. Saying something then becomes a way to realize the membership of the management team.

Monologic management team communication (mono-voiced and polar):
Only some team members, often the CEO, is taking the space. There is variation between the lenght of the speech acts, and some people have monologues that take several minutes. Managing the meanings of the whole team becomes a task of only some people. This setting is not necessarily hierarchic, instead it offers the space for more influential people to take it. In many cases monologic communication can look very dialogic and only a detailed studying of single episodes can reveal the monologic nature of the communication. Monologic communication is typical in those management teams that have a strong reporting structure.


Erkkilä, P. 2012. Hetki lyö. Dialogi ja sen syntyminen johtoryhmien kokoustyöskentelyssä. Acta Wasaensia 274, (Ph.D. dissertation) Business Administration 111.

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