MetaTheoretical Approaches- Organizational Communication Theories

Broad Essay Prompt: MetaTheoretical Approaches provide a perspective or worldview that guides theory development and influences how a specific theory conceptualizes organization, structure, people, and communication, develops concepts, and then studies real life organizational phenomena. By addressing the following prompts, demonstrate your understanding for the Postpositive MetaTheoretical Approach, a related theory and view of communication, which are then used to study and understand organizational life


Specific Content Prompts: 

(1) Describe and Explain the Postpositivist Approach to organizational life, do so by explaining the philosophical assumptions to this approach, which combine into broad perspective of the organizational world; 

(2) Select and Describe the main ideas and concepts of one Postpositive theory from the following choices: 

  • Theory Choices: Bureaucracy, OR Herzberg’s Hygiene Motivation Theory, OR Systems Theory

(3) Explain how the Conventional Communication approach fits with your selected Theory AND the Postpositive Approach - what are the links or connections, tie it all together..


The key to the 3 prompts is each should demonstrate alignment between MetaTheory-Theory-Communication. Use of language, terms, assumptions, concepts, descriptions, and explanations convey and reveal the connections between the MetaTheory Approach, Theory, and Communication approach. Your Essay content should demonstrate how all three work together to understand organizational life. The goal for content  is not quantity, but quality of writing. Content should be well selected and developed, contain sufficient details, with accuracy and logic (critical thinking). There is time to make good selections and write well.


Readings: The following materials should be reviewed and drawn upon for the exam:

  • What is Organizational Communication? Video

  • (Communication Views) (Week 2)

  • Classical, Ch3 (3.2.1—3.2.5) 

  • (Week 3)

  • Theory Ch3 (3.3.1)

  • (Week 2)

  • H. Resources Theories: CH 3 (3.4.1 – 3.4.6) 

  • (Week 4)

  • Metatheory (Approaches): CH4 (4.2.1-4.2.6) 

  • (Week 3)

  • Systems Theory: CH 4 (4.4.1-4.4.2 only)

  • Systems Theory and Orgs Video

  • (Week 5)



Preparation, Content, and Format:
All the parts of this question have readings or videos for foundation, each was discussed, and connections made in class discussions, quizzes, and CRW. This is an opportunity to improve, deepen, refine, and demonstrate your broad understanding about these topics so far, and your ability to critically think about the connections between topics. 



Explain and Describe are the main modes of conveying your understanding and thinking, drawing on the resources above as support or reference. Quotes should be used minimally and always explained (see below), whereas no content should be copied or duplicate any materials. If content primarily repeats the exact content of readings or videos, only reorganizing words, this will be problematic in two specific ways: (1) That will not demonstrate your understanding and (2) it will likely read poorly with odd grammar or awkward phrasing or language. The prompts ask for descriptions and explanations which would mostly be in the students own words, except for key terminology or terms. Of course, you use the terminology and concept terms, maybe a brief quote, while the job is to always explain what those mean and how they are connected.


All work must be the original work of the individual student, copying content or inappropriate collaboration on the exam that leads to duplicated content will be grounds for exam failure and possible other disciplinary actions. See the CMST 470 Syllabus for further details about Academic Integrity in this course and at the University.


  • The expectation is students will review the question, review and select materials, then draft, revise, write the sections, using the full time range, which is between Fri 3/4 - Fri 3/11, 11:59pm. It does not take all that time to complete the essay, students are provided the range to complete the work in steps on your schedule, and in time to meet the deadline.

    • This should convey the Essay is not a task to be completed all at once, but in steps, so the different tasks can be completed and benefit from revision.

    • Reviewing and organizing materials, selecting one theory and related concepts to focus upon, working out the connections, ask questions, are important preparation tasks

  • The relationship between MetaTheory, Theory, and Communication Views has been highlighted and visualized since the beginning of the semester – be sure you have a clear understanding of how the three parts relate to one another, so the Essay content is cohesive.

  • Each of the 3 parts should be a minimum of 1 page, with the entire answer no longer than 4 total double-spaced pages, top to bottom, no introductions/conclusions or extra information (class, date, etc.)  at the top

  • This content would be more developed, accurate, and refined than a quiz answer or CRW, see the explanation of Explain and Describe above..

  • If you use a quote, you must reference chapter number or title of the video or reading author, and provide the page or section number. Quotes should be brief, used minimally, and always explained.

  • Complete your work in a Word Doc or PDF (not google doc), submit in the Assignments Tab.

  • Additional Support/Questions: 

    • An entire week of classes and outside preparation time is scheduled for Essay work.

    • Class meeting time 3/7–3/11 offers some flexible options, students should make good decisions about how to get the most from class meetings as these are the opportunities where there will be devoted discussions about the exam.

    • Additional help is available during Student Hours Weds 12-2pm; or appointments, as well as via emails.

  • See Essay Exam I rubric for Grading criteria and expectations. Linked to Assignment.

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