Communication 310 Fall 2021
Applied Theory Paper Guidelines
The purpose of this paper is to take a closer look at how we can use the major approaches to studying organizational communication (classical approaches, humanistic approaches, systems approaches, cultural approaches) and related concepts/theories. This paper gives you a chance to look at one approach in more detail and use this work to help you understand communication in a specific organization. The goals of this paper are to:
by reviewing academic research to help you learn more about how we have used this approach and related theories in research
Below you will find a step-by-step breakdown for approaching this paper, including guidelines for each step.
I want you to be able to use an organization that is familiar to you and interesting to you. There is flexibility in what organization you choose. You can learn about the organization through interviewing a current organizational member OR you can reflect on your own experience as a member of the organization.
Interviewing a current organizational member: You can interview anyone in your network (family, friends, co-workers, etc.). You should develop about 8-10 interview questions. Questions should help you learn about your interviewee’s role, the specific organization, and how communication works in the organization. The specific questions you write will depend on your relationship with the interviewee, your knowledge of the organization, and the approach to studying organizational communication that you are examining for this paper.
Reflecting on your own experience: If you are reflecting on your own experience, you will need to provide detail on your role in the organization (length of time, typical duties), information about the organization, and how communication works in the organization. When you are talking about how communication works within the organization, think about the who, what, when, where, how, and why of communication in the organization.
You will use this information in your paper to provide a clear context for understanding what communication looks like in your organization. To analyze the organization, you must understand how things work (or don’t work)!
You should pick one of the four approaches we studied: classical approaches, humanistic approaches, systems approaches, or cultural approaches. For your approach, you want to identify two theories or concepts that we studied that are typically associated with the approach. For example, the theory of scientific management and the theory of classical management are two theories associated with the classical approaches. Once you have picked your approach and related theories/concepts, make sure to review your class notes, any handouts from class, and our textbook.
You will use your textbook and other sources to learn more about the organization and about relevant research related to the approach and theories/concepts. Before you start doing this research, review the paper guidelines (next section) to help you focus your search! For this paper, you need five sources. One of the sources can be your textbook, one source should be related to the organization (examples: organization’s website), and three sources should be scholarly sources (examples: book chapter from an edited book, a peer reviewed-journal article). If you are not sure about sources, please ask me! I will also have resources posted on Canvas to help you navigate research.
Below you will find details about the type of information you should include in your paper. You will see bullet points with directions as well as questions to help you as you think about the research or what you have learned about the organization.
Briefly introduce the approach and related theories/concepts that you are examining in your paper. Briefly introduce the organization and whether you are analyzing the organization based on an interview or your personal experience. At the end of the introduction, include a preview of the major sections of your paper.
Use the information from your interview or your personal experience to write the overview. If you did an interview, you are not going to just type in questions and answers from the interview. Use what you learned from the interview to explain how the organization is structured and what communication looks like in the organization. In your overview, you want to address the following:
In this section, you will explain what you learned from your research and apply that work to how things work in your selected organization.
Explanation of the approach and related theories/concepts
Begin this section with what you learned from your outside research. Do this before you begin your analysis of the organization. Using what you have learned from your book and outside readings, you want to address the following questions in your paper:
Please do not list the questions out and answer them. Use the questions and what you have learned to explain the approach and related concepts/theories. You can organize the information in the way that makes sense for your paper. Be sure to explain your ideas clearly and with detail. Use your research (cite your sources) in the text of the paper to provide details.
Analysis of the organization
Use what you have learned from the research to help you analyze the communication within your organization.
In this section, you are going to use your research and what you learned about the organization to evaluate the approach and related theories/concepts.
Based on what you learned from your outside research and your specific organization, what specific recommendations would you make for your organization about specific actions they could take to improve their overall effectiveness? You can talk about the overall structure, leadership, or the way that the communication inside and outside of the organization.
In your conclusion: recap the approach and relevant theories/concepts you discussed. Summarize why this approach was helpful for studying your organization. What are the most important lessons we can learn about communication and organizations from your approach and organization?
You should include a reference page in APA format (7th edition). Put all your sources that you used in your paper on your reference page.
When you are working on your paper, there are specific technical requirements to make sure your papers are clear, your ideas are supported, and your work is organized.
The grading rubric details correspond with the paper guidelines. Below you will find points possible for each guideline area for the paper. Review the guidelines so you know what to include in each section:
|Guideline Area||Points Possible||Points Earned||Feedback|
|Introduction||Up to 5 points|
|Overview of the Organization||Up to 10 points|
|Explanation and Analysis||Up To 35 points|
|Strengths and Limitations||Up to 15 points|
|Recommendations||Up to 15 points|
|Conclusion||Up to 10 points|
|Technical Requirements||Up to 10 points|
|Total points||Up To 100 points|
Below I have several APA resources and links if you need them. You can always reach out with questions, but you might find this to help you get started.
Creating Reference Pages
Citing Sources in the Text of your Paper
Important Reminders about In Text Citations:
Creating Headings: Headings in APA Format
Sample APA Paper: APA Sample Paper