Organisational communication in a strategic change project

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Kingston, Tamsin
Author ORCID Profiles (clickable)
Master of International Communication
Unitec Institute of Technology
Henson, Donna
Burchell, Noel
Masters Dissertation
Ngā Upoko Tukutuku (Māori subject headings)
internal communication
communication strategies
Kingston, T. (2008). Organisational communication in a strategic change project. Unpublished thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the degree of Master of International Communication, Unitec New Zealand, New Zealand.
Internal communication has an important part to play in the success of change initiatives. This research project assessed the success of the communication of a strategic change project (Student Max) to employees within an organisation, utilising an educational institution as a case study. The study sought to answer two major research questions: How effective were the communication strategies employed in Phase 1 of the Student Max project? What made these strategies effective or ineffective? It was decided that a largely qualitative approach was the most appropriate method to gather the data required to answer these questions. This study utilised three data collection methods. An online survey was administered to the employees of the organisation, with 136 choosing to participate. Two focus groups were undertaken, one with four participants and one with five. Seven staff from various levels within the organisation were interviewed. The data gathered from these three methods was analysed utilising thematic analysis. Some of the survey questions also produced data that was statistically analysed. A review of the literature suggested that change is a complex process, with many factors contributing to the success or failure of change initiatives. It also suggested that communication was an important, if not the most important, part of the change process, often meaning the difference between success and failure. The findings of this thesis support this primacy of communication. Analysis revealed that the communication strategies employed in the Student Max project were a qualified success. The needs of all employees were not met, and a variety of problems with the communication were identified. However none of these problems resulted in the communication being ineffective for the organisation as a whole. Some key issues were raised, such as a lack of trust within the organisation, perceived gaps between management and employees, and a lack of involvement of employees within the change process. A number of barriers to communication effectiveness were also identified, including high workload, timing of communication, lack of co-ordination of communication, change fatigue, and employee cynicism. In addressing these issues and barriers the organisation has the opportunity to enhance communication effectiveness.
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