Term Paper: Effect of the Technology Boom of the Last Twenty Years on Managerial Communication

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¶ … Technology Boom of the Last Twenty Years on Managerial Communication

BUS 501 Business Communications

Request permission to submit a research paper to satisfy the term paper requirements of BUS 501 on: The Effect of the Technology Boom of the Last Twenty Years on Managerial Communications. I have been working with technology, specifically, data networks and wireless communications systems as a user, administrator, designer, and manager for the past 17 years. This topic fascinates me and I have been witness first-hand to some of the biggest technological successes and failures of the past two decades. I have witnessed companies' fail and others succeed, as well as individuals and managers who have failed and succeeded due to their willingness to embrace (or not) which either resulted in a huge competitive advantage or buried the company financially. As a member of both the military and the civilian workforce (4 years as Director of Sales Engineering at a satellite telecommunications company before re-entering military service), I have a unique perspective on the technology boom of the last 20 years (in 1993, I was the first of my peers to know what the internet was). I propose to analyze some of the big technology enhancements (as well as failures) that have come and gone in the last 20 years and how they have affected Managerial Communication, and how management techniques have adapted or changed as a result. Finally, I would like to analyze some of the emerging technologies and how they may continue to enhance/hinder/change they way we manage in the future.

The Effect of the Technology Boom of the Last Twenty Years on Managerial Communication

Introduction

The fundamental purpose of communication to transmit knowledge and information has remained unchanged since the dawn of humankind. As a result of technological innovations in information and communications technology, though, the manner in which communication takes place between humans has changed dramatically during the past 20 years. These changes have also affected the manner in which managerial communication takes place, including an increasingly diverse, multicultural and technologically sophisticated workforce, and these important trends also form the focus of this study. Therefore, to determine the effect of the technology boom of the last 20 years on managerial communication, this study provides a review of the relevant peer-reviewed and scholarly literature, an application of these recent trends to demonstrate the intergenerational effects of these innovations in managerial communication, followed by a summary of the research and important findings in the conclusion.

Review and Discussion

Background and Overview

Managerial communication practices have been influenced by countless so-called management fads over the years as well as the same forces that are driving an increasingly globalized and competitive marketplace. Indeed, innovations in information and communications technologies have created an entirely new environment where the need for the timely dissemination of knowledge and information has assumed increasing importance. For instance, Edelman (2006) emphasizes that, "In today's highly competitive business world, customer satisfaction has never been more important in the growth of a company's 'bottom line.' Unfortunately, corporations are now dealing with a more diverse and more varied customer base" (p. 57). Likewise, Araneta (2007) notes that, "The different country markets are converging into one global market as innovations in information and communications technology are applied to the world of finance. There are great benefits albeit great challenges to this development" (p. 37).

These trends over the last 20 years therefore mean that managerial communications are also becoming increasingly multilingual and multicultural in nature, making the need for an informed and effective managerial communication approach an important part of any business model today. Some of the more significant advances in technology that have taken place over the past 20 years that have had a particularly pronounced impact on managerial communication are set forth in Table 1 below.

Table 1

Timeline and Summary of Innovations in Technology that have Affected Managerial Communication: Past 20 Years

Year

Innovation

1992

World Wide Web introduced

1996

The Palm Pilot PDA is introduced by Palm, Inc. (Jackson, 2006). According to Gentry, "The era of the handheld mobile device began in earnest around 15 years ago with the introduction of the Palm Pilot. Commonly referred to as personal digital assistants or PDAs, they quickly developed a strong following in many areas of business" (2011, p. 16).

1998

Google redefines Web use by consumers and businesses alike (Jackson, 2010)

1999

Wi-fi Internet access becomes readily available (Jackson, 2010).

2001

iPod introduced (Jackson, 2010).

2003

Toshiba Pocket PC e750 introduced (Wireless devices for ubiquitous learning, 2006).

Palm Tungsten C. produced by Palm, Inc. introduced (Wireless devices for ubiquitous learning, 2006).

Samsung SCH-i600 Smart Phone introduced (Wireless devices for ubiquitous learning, 2006).

Samsung SPH-i700 Pocket PC Phone introduced (Wireless devices for ubiquitous learning, 2006).

2005

Wide range of wireless handheld devices introduced (Jackson, 2010)

2010

iPad and smartphone use becomes commonplace (Jackson, 2010)

2011

Skype introduces group telephone calls (Oppenheim, 2011)

In response to these trends over the past 20 years, managerial communication scholars have increasingly emphasized the overarching need for developing and sustaining seamless communication throughout an organization to help achieve a competitive advantage. For instance, according to Ahmed, Shields, White and Wilbert, "Research shows that organizational performance markedly improves when communication is permitted to flow uninterrupted [and] managerial communication can assist with cultivating an environment of high productivity (2010, p. 107). Achieving this level of seamless managerial communication, though, represents a challenging enterprise in the digital age where numerous innovations in information and communication technologies (ICTs) have fundamentally affected the manner in which managers interact with their superiors, peers and subordinates.

Moreover, the effective use of ICT for managerial communication applications can help establish improved relationship between management and employees in ways that help achieve organizational goals, provide timely feedback concerning employee performance, and improve the effectiveness of formal and informal managerial communication networks (Ahmed et al., 2010). Indeed, the connection between the enlightened use of the appropriate managerial communication method and organization performance is well documented. In this regard, Ahmed et al. emphasize that, "Leading and motivating employees to perform at a level that achieves organizational objectives is primarily tied to managerial communication" (2010, p. 108). Top managers who use inappropriate or otherwise-unsuitable managerial communication methods may introduction misperceptions and ambiguities in ways that adversely affect employee morale and exacerbate unplanned and unwanted employee attrition. In this regard, Ahmed and his colleagues add that, "Many leaders/managers are not successful due to their authoritative leadership styles, resulting in increased communication gap with their employees. Such leaders are unable to earn the respect and loyalty of their employees, who simply follow their orders because of their authority. Accordingly, there is a greater possibility of turnover and absenteeism by the valuable workforce" (2010, p. 108). Consequently, there need for the right managerial communication method is the foundation of a successful organization. In this regard, Ahmed et al. conclude that, "The flow of smooth information without barriers is a critical element of effective managerial communication. High-performing, well-respected organizations are built on the principle of sharing information freely and timely" (2010, p. 108)

According to Yunxia (2003), the basic principles of managerial communication include (a) conceptualizing organizations as being systems, and (b) and recognizing that communication refers to messages that are perceived rather than to messages sent. In other words, the message that is actually perceived by the recipient is the most important consideration, irrespective of the intended message (Yunxia, 2003). The latter point is important because it underscores the objective elements of communication such as sender and message but also with the subjective nature of communication (e.g., assumptions and interpretations).

1. Input includes the entire range of local, regional, and national relationships relevant to an organization. Integration blends various relationships as indicated in the input and creates changes. For example, any area of the input, such as organizational structure, technology, communication patterns, or attitudes of the participants, can affect the output greatly.

2. Output ranges from the physical product such as services produced to the cognitive product such as information and knowledge.

This conceptualization helps provide a useful way to visualize the significant relationship between managerial communication and management practices (Yunxia, 2003, p. 126). In this regard, communication from a managerial perspective can be defined as the downward (top management to bottom workforce), horizontal (among peers / colleagues), or upward (bottom to top echelons of management) exchange of information and perception of the meaning through informal and formal modes/channels that are used to achieve organizational objectives (Yunxia, 2003). For this purpose, there are four basic managerial communication methods available: (a) oral methods (the spoken word), (b) written methods, (c) visual methods, and (d) audio and/or sound methods (Ahmed et al., 2010). Some indications of the impact that the introduction of innovations in ICT have exerted on managerial communication include those changes described in Table 2 below.

Table 2

Changes in Basic Managerial Communication Methods: 1991-2011

1991

2011

Oral methods (the spoken word)

Telephone; face-to-face interactions; interviews; paging; conferences; staff meetings, etc.

Video conferencing;… [END OF PREVIEW]

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