Communication with employees can improve in multinational organizations
The purpose of this study is to find out how communication channels in multinational organizations can be improved. It seeks how to find ways of improving employee responsiveness to existing communication channels in these organizations and also identify the most effective communication channels. The research population will be all the employees of multinational organizations. For this research, random sapling will be used to choose the research subjects from the population. Both the countries to be used and the respective employees from these countries will be picked randomly after scientific calculation. The research will also adopt the survey method of research. Research data will be collected through such instruments as one on one interview with the subjects, questionnaires, observations and use of checklists. The information gathered will then be analyzed and findings shall be published and acted upon appropriately.
Communication is a tool that an organization would require to function effectively (Karl Deutsch, 1952). An effective communication in an organization goes with the right choice of communication channel. The nature of a multi national organization would require advanced communication channels like interactive websites, videoconferencing, mobile phone conversations and emails. Generally most of multi national organizations have advanced communication channels in place; however, these can still be improved with this kind of research.
Multinational organization is an organization that has its operations, facilities and assets in more than one country. A communication channel is a medium used to send a message from the sender to the receiver. These are letters, telephones and emails, face-to- face conversation, faxes and many others. Employee is a staff of an organization Alvesson, M. and Deetz, S. (2000). This research will take a survey method to establish which the most favorable channel of communication and finding ways of improving the existing communication channels in a multinational organization.
Corporate communications is the process of facilitating information and knowledge exchanges with internal and key external groups and individuals that have a direct relationship with an organization (Karl Deutsch, 1952). This is concerned with internal communications management with employees in an organization. This is possible through favorable communication channel. Examples are where organizations use annual reports as corporate communications tools to convey information related to results, process. Corporate communications may include: Analyst relations, internal communications, Investor relations, corporate governance (communications aspects of corporate governance), Issue management, Change management (communications aspects of growth management, mergers and acquisitions), corporate social responsibility, Litigation (communications on/around litigation) and crisis communications. Typically, many organizations use electronic and print newsletters to share corporate information. Organizations use Intranets to create organization communication platforms to formalize employee communication processes within an organization in a single building. However, in multinational organizations corporate communications must be through international communication channels. Geographical and cultural differences are the major challenges in employee communication in multi national organization. Despite, the geographical, cultural and other differences, these organizations must maintain harmony in their operations and employee communication. Despite these difficulties there must be a “Noiseless Channel’, which deals with the transmission of information from some sender to some receiver without any interference using machines, as in telemetry or remote control systems. Transmission takes place via some channel, which might be a telephone or telegraph circuit, a microwave link with a specific frequency.
The research aims to find out how to increase the responsiveness of employees to the existing communication channels in their multinational organizations. It will identify the channels for most effective communication channels in multinational organizations. Identify preferable communication channels to employees of multinational organizations and the current challenges of existing communication channels in a multinational organization.
Multinational organizations and companies, compared to national or local ones, have the advantage of working with different cultures to make their services and products available to wider areas and communities. When these companies expand to other regions or countries, there may be an assumption that since everybody in the company is working towards achievement of the company goals and objectives, they will definitely think, communicate and view the world from the same point of view. When several cultures begin working together, communication problems begin to arise, that in most cases, the employees may not be skilled enough to handle or solve. This may be due to the fact that they have never had to deal with the issue before. Language difference is often the least difficult barrier to contravene. Whenever there are language differences, there is a greater awareness for the likelihood of problems. However, much more often, it is the difference in perception of things and an unwillingness or inability to see what the other person sees that causes the communication problems. When people work with other cultures, it is common to be influenced by prejudices, misconceptions, and stereotypes about their colleagues. Without realization, these can be carried over to conference rooms, meetings, company gatherings or trainings. This can hinder effective communication within these multinational companies.
Cultural diversity therefore poses a major problem as far as communication channels are concerned. People from different countries have different traditions and attitudes towards organizational and business setups. It is suggested that in order to have a good understanding of the local market, an organization needs to employ the locals. This further complicates the issue of cultural differences in multinational organizations. When cultural diversity is not properly managed; it affects communication and may in turn lead to organizational conflicts. It may also be difficult to build mutual trust between employees of these organizations and their work morale my also be affected.
This research will examine the existing communication channels in a multi national organization, examine each communication channel process and its effectiveness, employees’ acceptance to the anticipated changes in the communication channels, the cost benefit analysis and finally it will come up with new ways of improving existing communication channels and even the use of new communication channels.
The following assumptions will be made; all involved persons will be cooperative and resourceful. The researcher has the knowledge required to data collection, evaluate the data and make an accurate comparison.
Time constraints, Research in a Multinational organization will most definitely require more time that such an academic allocated period will not permit. More time to do a research means more funds required. The researcher may be constrained with financial resource, since the amount of money needed might be more than what the institution has allocated. Different nations have different research policies; this is due to mainly cultural differences. This can limit the depth of the research in that the personal responses of the employees may be limited by their countries national policies.
The objectives of this research will be:
To show the relationship that exists between a particular communication channel and the way it can improve the communication with employees in an organization.
To find out the employee’s response to communication channel changes that are aimed at improving communication within a multi national organization.
To identify the communication balance that exists between the various branches in various countries of operation.
To identify ways of improving communication channels with employees in a multi national organization.
Introduction to the Literature Review
While there is a fairly substantial amount of literature on communication, there is little to be found on communication channel improvement research. This may of course be due to the fact that business researchers have left communication channel development work to be addressed by technological advancements. The communication aspects of multinational organizations have been addressed only in a few studies that have utilized relatively few samples. The aim of this review is therefore to examine the findings of the prior studies focusing on the roles of multinational companies and the communication channels and processes used I these companies.
.The more interesting research, perhaps, concern how to strengthen existing communication channels with employees, which what this research is trying to solve. This research also looks at how to increase the responsiveness of employees to the communication channels in their multinational organizations. This demand has lead to such topics. A recent evaluation of communication among employees, the development research gateway, reported that the employees expressed discontent with the fact that much development research from developed countries was of limited relevance and value to the lives of most people in developing countries (Coe et al., 2002). It further stated that multinational corporate communication involves an understanding of how the organizational context influences communicational processes and channels and how the symbolic nature of communication makes it different from other forms of organizational behavior.
The main relevant theory of cooperate communication, that influence the channels of communication is ‘the diffusion of innovation theory of mass communication and social change’ its concern about media channels and interpersonal networks. This theory holds that a new idea – or a communication idea – begins at its point of origin and spreads through the surrounding geographic areas or from person to person within a specific area (Littlejohn, 1996). A basic notion of diffusion theory holds that once a certain number of individuals (perhaps 15 percent) in a system adopt an innovation, it will continue to spread in a self-sustaining process. Rogers and Shefner-Rogers (1999) recommend it as a model for such health campaigns as AIDS awareness. Business professionals are also using the theory for research on franchising, comparisons between first and last adopters of new technologies, and organizational adoption of innovations (Koiranen, 1998; Martinez, Polo & Flavian, 1998; Frambach, 1993). The theory states that interaction through links has a greater affect on understanding than if the same messages are passed through media channels, and that the interpersonal interaction is essential to convergence or shared meaning of the message (Littlejohn, 1996). He adds that depending on whether ones background is I the field of business, management, corporate or organizational communication, and the definition internal communication will vary accordingly. For example, in the field of business communication, he defines internal communication loosely as the exchange of ideas and information within an organization. He contends that internal communication is about creating rapport and an atmosphere of respect with all the employees and that communication should come directly from one manger to the next in the chain of command. He suggests further that such personalized managerial communication is no longer viable as companies have grown, and are continuing to grow, larger and more complex in structure: hence the increasing demand for the formal internal communication channels or functions.
According to Meyer (2008), communication refers to the exchange of information through the various media including letters, face-to-face visits, phone calls, and mails. Communication serves a myriad of functions in the management of multi national companies, including control. She goes ahead to say that effective analysis of communication channels makes an understanding of communication patterns central to effective management of multinational companies. She agrees that all problems in the organization fundamentally involve human processes and interaction. No matter what financial, technical or other matters that may be involved, there will always be involvement of humans in the design and consequent implementation of such processes. A proper understanding of humans and the ability to improve such processes, including communication processes, is very important for any organizational improvement. Hence the issue of proper communication is vital both as a human and a strategic management issue. More specifically, proper and effective communication is linked to better knowledge sharing, according to her, which consequently is a critical component of competitive advantage.
Given the fact that the business environment has become increasingly competitive and complex, there is greater need for internal communications and greater pressure on employees. However, the role and nature of communication are rarely the focus of research or discussions since they are always assumed to be self explanatory (Tourish and Hargie 2004). In fact, the role of communication within the organizations is far from clear and the large number of academic terms in usage has made it hard to establish common cognitive ground (Tourish and Hargie 2004). They view organizational communication as the way in which people ascribe or give meaning to messages, non-verbal and verbal communication, the effectiveness of communication in organizations, communication skills and how meanings are changed or distorted during the process of exchange of messages in both informal and formal networks.
According to Kitchin (2000), the study of multinational company communication can be approached in terms of a theoretical kind of approach (with focus of knowledge solely from one of the communication domains) or a process approach (with focus on a specific element in the communication process). Four domains can be safely argued to contribute to the study of internal multinational communications. These are corporate, organizational, business and management communication. Although it is broadly and generally recognized that the focus of each of the domains is slightly different, it is also argued that more could be achieved from finding synergies as opposed to differences between these fields, especially when studying multinational communication. He argues that business communication addresses communication skills of all the employees; management communication focuses more on the development of the manager’s communication capabilities and skills; corporate communication on the other hand focuses on formal corporate communication function and organizational communication function is to provide a context by stressing on more theoretically and philosophically oriented issues. At the same time however, each of these four may be argued to display features of both theoretical and practical knowledge, have certain aspects focusing on larger groups, other aspects focusing on dyads and also includes functions of both external and internal multinational communications.
In summary, the above literature brings to fore the fact that there is a lot more that needs to be done as far as communication channels in multinational organizations is concerned. This is critical considering the fact that communication in organizations plays a major role in terms of productivity and employee output.
The survey research method will be adopted for the purpose of this study. The focus will be on the entire employees of the selected branches of a multi national corporation. For example an organization will have a sample size of many participants who will be drawn from the total population, using the stratified and simple random sampling techniques.
Access may be particularly challenging when the research subject is of a sensitive nature. Problems of access usually start at the data collection stage. Clark et al. (1998) rationalizes that any reasons for choosing a particular research method will, to some extent, depend on how easy the method is to implement, how easy it is gain access to the desired quality and quantity of respondents, and once identified, how easy it is to gain co-operation. Management studies often focus on research within organizations, and research challenges can include gaining initial access and dealing with confidential company data. Buchanan et al. (1988) advocate an opportunistic approach; access has become harder with the wide use of research-based assessments in further and higher education and because of the competitive economic climate. They offer aspirant researchers the following advice: allow sufficient time to gain access; use non-threatening language to explain the aims of research; deal with respondents in a positive manner; offer a copy of your findings to the employees who participate in the data collection. All these guidelines will be observed during the course of the research.
The study applies co-relational research design. It looks at the relationship between variables and has the assumption that there is a cause effect relationship. This design was chosen because it is relatively cheap that is, it is easy to perform and time conscious.
The research location will be in randomly chosen branches of a multi national organization. The number of the branches that the research will take place must be more that half the number of the total number countries the multi national organization operates in.
The population is the staff (Employees) of the multi national organization. The staff of all levels will be the target population for this research.
Sampling is the process of selecting a sub-set of cases in order to draw a conclusion about the entire set (Collis and Hussey, 2009). A multi national organization has many branches in different counties of their operation and they employ many staff, sampling is necessary, where in choosing the countries where the research will be done and in choosing the staff who will take place in the research.
Random sampling method will be employed in the following areas: one, selecting the countries who will participate in the research. This is after the number of the countries that will be examined has been calculated scientifically. Two, in selecting the employees to take part in the research in the individual country’s branches, this is also after the number of the respondents required per country has been calculated scientifically.
Generally the sampling frame incorporates a great deal, more structure than one would expect to find. It’s a simple list of elements (Ross, 1991). In this case we study employee communication channels in a multi national organization.
Sampling here is lists of employees according to a number of stratified variables: Size (the number of Employees), Region (Their Specific countries) and Sex (male or Female). This is important since the research results of the sample data must be drawn from a particular stratum within a sampling frame.
Types and source of data
Sources of data will be questionnaires, general census, experiments and reports, records or periodical of the multi national organization to be studied.
The types of data will be both primary and secondary data. The secondary data will be got from the company communication policy, records of accounts on communication costs. However the core sources of data will be primary sources. These are the attitudes and opinions collected by the questionnaires from the employees. Physical experiments results on the time taken to reach a particular group of employees.
Data collection tools
The main instrument that will be used for data gathering is a 36-item self-developed questionnaire tagged “Informal Communication Channels in Organizations Questionnaire” (ICCOQ) with reliability co-efficient of 0.81. The first visit will be used for the introduction of the purpose of the research and distribution of the questionnaire; while the other two visits will be used for the collection and filling of the questionnaires from the organizations’ randomly selected employees to be questioned.
Other than the questionnaires, the data will be collected using, interview schedules, observation and physical experiments of various selected international communication channels.
The Questionnaires: A questionnaire is an instrument with questions which could be in open or closed ended format. Closed ended questions are short structured or choices hence easy to compute and analyze whereas open-ended questionnaires always offer space for further explanation and hence provides detailed information. Closed-ended questionnaires will be used.
Interview Schedule: An interview schedule is either structured or open ended or closed ended. They may be face to face where specific questions are asked. Face to face interviews of three members will be used.
Observation: The traits of communication channels, will be observed like their nature and the general appearance of the information transmitted and the, mood of the employees while using these communication channels.
Checklists: These are ready made lists having the characteristics of the sample subject. This is to save time in making various questions that might appear in the field.
The research instruments in this study will be carefully constructed to ensure their reliability and validity. This should be thoroughly scrutinized by the relevant authorities to realize accuracy. The main objective of pilot testing would be to ascertain the accuracy and validity of the instruments before they are applied in the actual study.
Reliability of measurement concerns the degree of consistency in the results when a test is used more than once. To realize reliability a researcher may use test- retest method or parallel forms. With the test- retest method, repeat the same test to same candidates within a short period. Remark and correlate the results from the two tests to determine reliability.
With parallel forms occurs when two test are set to be parallel. If the corresponding tests use equal variance equal content and equal means.
Validity is when a rest solves the purpose for which it was designed. Face validity is a situation whereby upon looking at a test relevancy is realized. Content validity is concerned with the extent of curriculum coverage by a test in an area of study.
Techniques of data analysis
The analysis will make use of descriptive statistics in the form of frequencies and percentages to summarize on the close ended items in the questionnaires and interview schedule. This data will then be analyzed deductively. That is organized into theories relevant to the study and presented using descriptions.
Presentation of data
Descriptive statistics enable us to understand data through summary values and graphical presentations. Summary values not only include the average, but also the spread, median, mode, range, and standard deviation. It is important to look at summary statistics along with the data set to understand the entire picture, as the same summary statistics may describe very different data sets. Descriptive statistics can be illustrated in an understandable fashion by presenting them graphically using statistical and data presentation tools.
Several types of statistical/data presentation tools exist, including: (a) charts displaying frequencies (bar, pie, and Pareto charts, (b) charts displaying trends (run and control charts), (c) charts displaying distributions (histograms), and (d) charts displaying associations (scatter diagrams).
There are two types of data. Attribute data are countable data or data that can be put into categories: e.g., the number of employees, the number of complaints, percentage who want a particular communication channel/percentage who want the other communication channels. Variable data are measurement data, based on some continuous scale: e.g., distance covered length of time taken, and cost of relaying information.
The research is limited to employee and the researcher’s secondary data. Other limitations earlier mentioned are; Time constraints. Research in a Multinational organization will most definitely require more time that such an academic allocated period will not permit. Financial constraint, since more time to do a research means more funds required. The researcher may be constrained with financial resource also because the amount of money needed might be more than what the institution has allocated. Different nations have different research policies. This is due to mainly cultural differences. This can limit the depth of the research in that the personal responses of the employees may be limited by their countries national policies.
Implications of this research are, first, employees’ involvement in decision making in the organization. The employees being the focal point of the research their ideas will influence the decision on how to improve the channels of communication within their multi national organizations. Second, there will be relevant allocation of resources in various countries where these organizations operate. This is after the research identifies the communication needs in various separate branches of the organization. Third, is improved international relation within the multi national organizations. Since the research will cover as many countries as possible there will be harmony in the changes made to improve the communication channels without favor of any particular country. Fourth, this is like a public relation exercise within the organization this raised ethics standards in multi national organizations. Lastly, Leadership responsibility is improved in the particular organization.
The objective of this a schedule is to identify and coordinate the activities required for planning and conducting the actual research. Time limit will be set for every activity as shown below.
Total research duration: Ten months
January – February 2011: Literature Review
March 2011: Draft the literature review
April 2011: Agree on research strategy with supervisor
May 2011: Agree on formal access to organizations for the collection of primary data
June 2011: Compile, pilot test and review the questionnaire
July 2011 – Administer questionnaire
August 2011: Final collection of questionnaire
September 2011: Data analysis
October 2011: Final writing of project report.
Resources and Personnel needed
For the research project to be successful, the following resources shall be required.
Human resource in the form of investigators, data collectors, data entry assistants and analysts. There will be three senior research personnel. Support staff such as drivers and caterers to provide auxiliary services will also be required.
Financial resource to cater for staff remunerations, travel and subsistence, equipment and other costs.
Senior Personnel Amount ($)
Other personnel 28,000
Total Personnel: 64,000
Fringe Benefits 13,000
Materials and Supplies 9,500
Total Direct Costs 107,500
Other indirect costs 20,000
Total Project Cost $ 191,500
The following bodies or authorities shall be consulted to give the research project a clearance and go-ahead:
The human subjects review committee
Director of International programs
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