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The Impact of Communication on the Decision-Making Process in an Organization

by Jagg Xaxx
Decisions may be made by a single leader, a committee or a large group
of people, depending on the nature of the organization. Each of these
models is more or less appropriate depending on the nature of the
decision and the context in which it is being made. When communication
is thorough and accurate, decisions tend to be more informed and


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improved when everyone in the decision-making process feels that her contribution is being
respected. In a harsh or judgmental environment, some people will not communicate their thoughts and feelings
because they fear negative reactions or repercussions. A group environment of acceptance leads to more
comprehensive input from all stakeholders, which in turn leads to better communications and decisions that take all
aspects of the situation into account.

Some authoritarian organizations are characterized by one-way, top-down communication. This form of
communication leads to decisions that reflect the knowledge and priorities of the upper echelons of the
organizations. This isn't necessarily a problem in an organization where the leaders' wishes are the only ones that
matter, for example in the military. In other organizations where members expect to be enfranchised, this type of
communication style can be problematic and lead to tensions within the organization and delayed or faulty decision-

Cooperative communication involves an equal exchange of ideas between engaged parties in a decision. While this
process can take longer than an authoritarian one and can be unwieldy, it can also result in decisions acceptable to
everyone involved because the decisions are made by everyone equally. When opinions and inputs are solicited from
an entire group on an equal basis, the resulting decision can be a consensual synthesis of individual preferences.
While each individual may not get exactly what she wants, the resulting decision will be close enough to each
person's ideal to be acceptable to the group as a whole.

Secrecy is the opposite of communication. It involves the willful withholding of information from other parties.
Secrecy is necessary and even beneficial in some situations, but the people holding the secrets should be aware of
the impact of secrecy on decision-making. Individuals not aware of some information can't be expected to make
decisions based on that information. Secrecy is most common in authoritarian institutions where all decisions are
made by a small group of leaders. In these situations, the input of followers isn't sought because they are not
stakeholders in the decision-making process.

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References (3)
MIT: Why Organizations Are Such a Mess (And What an Economist Might Do About It); Robert Gibbons; March 2000
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality: Professional Communication and Team Collaboration; Michelle O'Daniel and
Alan H. Rosenstein
Foundation Coalition: Methods for Decision Making
About the Author

Jagg Xaxx has been writing since 1983. His primary areas of writing include surrealism, Buddhist iconography and
environmental issues. Xaxx worked as a cabinetmaker for 12 years, as well as building and renovating several
houses. Xaxx holds a Doctor of Philosophy in art history from the University of Manchester in the U.K.

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