Really Now, What is Organizational Communication?

As I sat there ready to play Who Wants to be a Millionaire, I couldn’t help but feel amused at the Vic Sotto’s question: What is Organizational Communication? It was the one question I’ve been asked for the most part of my past four years in college. It was the same question I almost always answered in autopilot—to freshmen, to clients, to internship interviewers, to my mom’s amigas, to high school batchmates, to relatives, and to so many other people who’ve gone in and out of my life in the recent past.

How could I not feel amused that I was being asked, yet again, what my degree program is? Another figure, this time a well-known actor, asked what the hell Organizational Communication is.

Whenever I’m asked that question, I’d usually draw out from a couple of definitions I’ve collected during my stay in the degree program. These definitions have a variety of sources—some straight from the book, others from insightful experience. What I usually do is to use the definition that best fits the person who’s asking. After all, I don’t have the luxury of time to explain what the degree is for all the passion I have in the world for it.

One thing is for sure though: explaining Organizational Communication is not impossible. In the academe, these are the definitions that aptly characterize the program–all of which, I believe, do not contradict each other. Let me count the ways:

The Goldhaber Formula

Gerald M. Goldhaber’s definition came to me at a time when I badly needed a credible reference for what Organizational Communication, fondly called Orcom in the academe, really means. He defines the field as “the process of creating and exchanging messages within a network of interdependent relationships to cope with environmental uncertainty” (1978).

I’m pretty sure this definition has made a couple of noses bled. It’s pretty easy to understand, once you try to make sense out of it: communication is vital for an organization to survive in any setting.

The Professors’ Take

Whenever I try to remember what my professors have told me about Organizational Communication, two most notable definitions come to mind:

  • one, that Organizational Communication is about “communication in organizations” (Inton, 2006);
  • and, second, that it’s about “business people involved in communication” (Barrientos, 2008).

While Professor Inton’s definition is easier to understand and recall, Professor Barrientos’ gives a clear picture of the Orcom practitioner as someone not limited to communication activities alone but also in taking active participation in meeting business goals. I’ve learned to trust their judgment, mainly because they taught me courses that were consistent to these definitions, graduated from the degree program themselves and  have served as living proof that Orcom’s promise of success isn’t carved out of fiction. Which brings me to my third point…

Job Opportunities

To me, the real measure of a degree program’s worth is its resiliency in the outside world. Having done a lot of interviews with graduates of UP Manila’s Organizational Communication, I can attest to the fact that it really is worth a lot in the outside world.

  • In the field of education, there’s Anne Camit, who, through a mini-seminar conducted by a professor, made me realize that there really is money in teaching;
  • there’s Ingrid Cudia, whose company, Sieg Web Solutions, proves that an Orcom graduate can make millionssss;
  • Simoun Salinas and Grace Lazaro, aspiring law students; and,
  • Chrysty Vergabera and Angel Tiong, PR practitioners.

I can probably come up with more (more successful people and even more career options!), but I’d rather you celebrate our 25th anniversary with us and come see for yourself. Hee.

UP Manila’s Orcom

UP Manila’s Organizational Communication is a delightful blend of theoretical and practical learning. There are management theories to be learned in subjects such as Organizational Theories and Managerial Communication and practical learnings from courses such as Dynamics of Public Relations and Argumentation and Debate.

Orcom trains its students to be experts in communication in the context of organizations–government, non-government, corporate, medium-scale businesses, and all sorts you can come up with. It doesn’t fall short of its promises, because it gives an all-around training one needs to be able to fulfill an organization’s goals—from Intercultural Communication to Written Communication.

Most importantly, it trains its students to become decision-makers themselves: to come up with novel solutions that will ultimately increase the bottom line—without compromising the human element in employees, of course.  Only through well-rounded, highly adaptive students can such organizational decision-makers be born. Organizational Communication trains you to be just that.

But that’s UP Manila. As it is, I don’t have sufficient information to compare its program to one other university that offers the degree, De La Salle University-Taft.

Really. I would’ve loved to sit down and raved to Vic Sotto about the beauty of Organizational Communication. His reply (“Interesting!”) was barely enough to sum up what I experienced–and have been experiencing thus far.

Now you ask me: subjectively speaking, what is Organizational Communication? I’ve asked myself the same question upon entering the degree program and found it answered as the years went by–by the very same definitions I stated above. In the end, Orcom is, to me, a home. That degree program that opened my eyes to wonderful ideas, even more wonderful people, and–I bravely say–that bright and promising future.


13 thoughts on “Really Now, What is Organizational Communication?

  1. So what’s the definition of OrCom so I can quote Razon, 2009? How is it different from other communication courses?

    Err… I do not mean to say that I really don’t know what OrCom is. I just like to see your POV.

  2. OrCom as home, as you have put it, is not far from the truth. I think we really learned a lot in UP Manila’s BA OrCom Degree Program just as we have from our own home 🙂

  3. it’s a smart move to define OrCom depending on who you are talking with—you speak their language game to make it easy for them to get the message.

    and isn’t that what OrCom is partly about? Customizing your message to your audience so that you facilitate common understanding and help in decision-making.

    so when a Stella Marie De Sagun asks you the same million-dollar question, you say:

    “OrCom is like seeing Burn Bernadas smiling at you. You know, that happy feeling that compels you to do your best. See, you graduated at the top of your class; our work helps businesses be at the top of their game.: 🙂

    • Indeed, Sir. Over the years, I’ve realized that one definition just doesn’t help in making people understand what Orcom is. Hahaha. I’m sure Ate Stella grinned silly at what you said.

  4. then what organizational comm really means?…ahaha

    Based from what I have understood, Org comm. was to achieve a common goal through systematic and dynamic communication…goal oriented. Ahaha (correct me if I’m wrong…sorry) I really don’t have an idea of what it is…or what does it look like or whatsoever…or better yet it is a HOME?ahaha

  5. Hello! 🙂 I am currently taking up BA OrCom at UP Manila. I am a second year student and I can honestly say that OrCom = home. 🙂

  6. I am currently on my last year in orgcom (dlsu) and yep, That is the biggest question we usually encounter. How to define orgcom. Nice post!

  7. how‘s subject enlistment procedure in up manila? do students choose their own class schedules or that the school gives them those based on who enrolled first, second, and so on?

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