There has been a lot of active research in the area communication. In fact, communication is a multidisciplinary field with scholars from both social and technical sciences concentrating on different aspects.
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The role of this paper is to examine the application of selected communication theories at Ped’s Kafe to appreciate the role that theories play in the conduct of business. This paper will concentrate on theories with a greater significance in social sciences.
There are an extremely high number of theories applicable to the study of communication. A casual search for theories relevant to communication brought up in excess of seventy theories from different disciplines.
Some of them go back to the early nineteenth century when scholars wanted to determine the factors that drove communication during the peak of the industrial age.
Others are very recent, such as the network theory that explores the communication trends in the twenty first century against the backdrop of rapid globalization and unparalleled technological advancement.1
The most relevant theories to this inquiry are the Information Theory developed by Claude Shannon and Warren Weaver, the Attribution Theory of Fritz Heider, the Groupthink Theory developed by Irving Janis, the Information Integration Theory, and the Uncertainty Reduction Theory.
The Information Theory was the result of applying a technical perspective of communication to social science. Shannon was an engineer with the Bell Telephone Company. Shannon’s primary interest was in the transmission of clear signals free from noise to make it possible for Bell’s Clients to have clearer calls with minimum distortion and interference.
However, Weaver, a social scientist, thought that the theory that Shannon had used to solve technical problems applied equally as well to social sciences. It was Weaver’s opinion that all communication undergoes distortion and hence Shannon’s theory was valid across the whole disciplines.2
The implication of this theory is that there is need to indentify and reduce “noise” within any communication process caused by the transducers used in the process. Noise refers to anything that interferes with the quality of the original signal.
The Attribution Theory, developed by Fritz Heider concentrated on the way people had a tendency of drawing inferences about a person’s character based on how they communicated. Heider observed that, “we see a person act and immediately reach conclusions that go beyond mere sensory information”.3
The implication of this theory is that people can develop inaccurate conclusions by using limited information to make sweeping conclusions. It serves to warn that it is improper and premature to make character judgments based only on limited information.
In this sense, the theory keeps people from being prejudicial. It also makes them aware that their views can carry prejudices if they did not have sufficient information to make the decisions they took.
Irvin Janis’ Groupthink Theory related to the collective impact of team dynamics on decision-making based on a communication malfunction.4 It related directly to the situation where a group made mistakes, sometimes very serious ones, because the team lacked the capacity to communicate objectively about the issue in question.
This theory came about after studying some major disasters in various organizations, which resulted from lack of constructive criticism or the capacity to take the criticism. Groupthink is often the result of high team cohesion encumbered with the unwillingness to raise contentious issues, usually in order to maintain team harmony.
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This theory addresses the nature of communication as a factor of operating environments. It has a special place in team based working environments such as Ped’s Kafe.
The final theories under the purview of this inquiry are the Information Integration Theory and the Uncertainty Reduction Theory.5 The Information Integration Theory postulates that people tend to develop their opinion of an issue based on the aggregate information they have regarding the issue.6
It is a sort of zero-sum game where a mental weighing of the pros and the cons take place. This theory explains how negotiations, advertisments, and propaganda work. Simply overwhelming the recipient with one side of the debate makes them more apt to view it as the better option.
The Uncertainty Reduction Theory explains that there is a drive in every person to reduce their uncertainty by gathering more information about the issues making them anxious. It explains the need for courting before marriage to find out as much as possible about a potential spouse, in order to reduce any uncertainties.
The implications of these communication theories to Ped’s Kafe are numerous. These theories confirm some of the best practices at Ped’s Kafe while they also help in identifying some of the potential pitfalls in the current communication systems.
In order to apply these theories to the workplace communication, there is need to consider the mediums of communication used, and the parties involved in communication processes.
Ped’s Kafe uses the telephone and the internet in its communications to suppliers and customers. Internet based systems include emails, and messages posted on social media platforms. Based on information theory, there is a need to ensure that all communication leaving Ped’s Kafe is simple, short, and accurate.7
One of the biggest concerns most internet users have is the amount of information that require their attention on any day.8 The best way to communicate with them is to reduce the noise, by cutting back on content to ensure that what they get from Ped’s Kafe is plain to them. It is imperative to ensure politeness at all times because of Attribution theory.
Rudeness on the phone or online can result in a poor image of Ped’s Kafe among clients. The implication of the Information Integration theory for Ped’s Kafe is that there is need to always ensure that there is “good press” online to ensure that as clients interact with messages from Ped’s Kafe, they receive more positive reviews than negative ones. The actual place to ensure positive reviews lies in the provisions of good services.9
However, an active advertising and media strategy calls for ensuring that there is a reasonable amount of information out there about the services offered at Ped’s Kafe.10
It also emphasizes the need for a clear advertising strategy to ensure always that when people are making an evaluation of Ped’s Kafe, they have sufficient positive information about it.
By doing this Ped’s Kafe will also ensure that it meets the information requirements for client seeking to reduce their uncertainties, according to the Uncertainty Reduction Theory.
In the area of interpersonal communication, there are also many lessons to draw from the application of the theories reviewed. Lessons from the Information Theory include the need to foster person-to-person communication within the employees to reduce the risk of distortion when messages pass through many people.11
This applies in the case of addressing the issues that affect service provision and employee relations. The Attribution Theory demands that staff must be slow from passing character judgments on clients based on limited restaurant floor communication.
On the other hand, politeness must remain a standard because of the risk that some clients may attribute negative values to the employees if they face any less-than-polite treatment from the staff. There is a serious risk of groupthink at the Ped’s Kafe. This is because of the unyielding demand from management that all staff should play as part of a team.
There is a very high premium associated with teamwork. Therefore, the staff can easily fall for the trap of failing to give needed critical comments in favor of team harmony. There is need to establish greater space for dissenting voices to ensure the establishment benefits from positive criticism.
Ped’s Kafe has not been very aggressive its marketing efforts. It depends a lot on walk-in clients to establish a relationship before it can follow upon the potential relationship.
According to the lessons from the Information Integration Theory, there is a real need to develop an aggressive marketing strategy that will ensure there is sufficient information within the potential market for Ped’s Kafe.12
It will make information available for them to make balanced judgments about Ped’s Kafe as opposed to relying on individual reviews. It will also help to reduce their uncertainties regarding the Ped’s Kafe.
The observations made based on the theories reviewed demonstrate that theories have an important place in the communication. More importantly, they provide a way of explaining human behavior hence they provide a solid way of making business decisions.
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1 S Flannes & G Levin, Essential People Skills for Project Managers, Management Concepts, Vienna, VA, 2005, p.23.
2 E Griffin, A First Look at Communication Theory, 8th ed. McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc, New York, NY, 1997, p. 47
4 L Froeb & BT McCann, Managerial Economics: A Problem Solving Approach Cengage Learning, Mason, OH, 2009, p. 78.
5R Boucaut, “Understanding Workplace Bullying: A Practical Application of Giddens’ Structuration Theory,” International Education Journal, vol. 2, no. 4, pp. 65-73, 2001.
6D Corson, RL Heath, & J Bryant, Human Communication Theory and Research: Concepts, Context, and Challenges, 2nd ed. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc, Mahwah, NJ, 2000, p. 45.
7 D Holmes, Communication Theory: Media, Technology, and Society, SAGE, London, UK, 2005, p.67.
8 Meredeth, JR& SJ Mantel, Project Management: A Managerial Approach, 8th ed. John Wiley and Sons, Hoboken, NJ, 2011, p. 23.
9 MJ O’Fallon & DG Rutherford, Hotel Management and Operations, 5th ed. John Wiley and Sons, Hoboken, NJ, 2010, p. 52.
10 D Peppers & M Rogers, Managing Customer Relationships: A Strategic Framework, John Wiley and Sons, Hoboken, NJ, 2004, p. 87.
11 JM Stellman, Encyclopeadia of Occupational Health and Safety, International Labour Organnization, Geneva, 1998.
12 S Gilson, Creating Value Through Corporate Restructuring: Case Studies in Bankruptcies, Buyouts, and Breakups, John Wiley and Sons, New York, NY, 2010, p. 63.