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Auditing organizational communication: evaluating the methodological strengths and weaknesses of the critical incident technique, network analysis, and the communication satisfaction questionnaire

By Karen Heleen Zwijze-Koning


This dissertation focuses on the methodology of communication audits. In the context of three Dutch high schools, we evaluated several audit instruments. The first study in this dissertation focuses on the question whether the rationale of the critical incident technique (CIT) still applies when it is used to evaluate internal communication practices. The results confirm that the CIT is capable of providing more structural insights in the strengths and weaknesses of an organizations communication system and that it is an extremely useful inductive approach to study organizational communication from employees’ perspective. In the second study we evaluated several validity issues concerning the Communication Satisfaction Questionnaire (CSQ). In all, we conclude that the CSQ may be a an appropriate instrument for generating overall conclusions about employees’ levels of communication satisfaction, especially when the results can be compared with other similar organizations, or over the years. However, the diagnostic value of the CSQ is problematic. Finally we evaluated network analysis as a communication audit tool. Therefore we compared the network analysis results with the results of the CIT and the CSQ in the three organizations. The conclusion can be drawn that a network analysis may provide a clear but limited contribution to a communication audit. Unless communication lines are the central focus of an audit, it does not seem recommendable to conduct a standalone network analysis. To make sense of network data, comparisons of different organizations and different types of networks within an organization are indispensable. The main asset of the studies reported in this dissertation is that they contribute to a methodology of communication audit research, by examining the strengths and weaknesses of specific methods rather than focusing on the outcomes of the communication audit as a whole. The studies show that methodological research into communication audit techniques is feasible and worthwhile

Publisher: Universiteit Twente
Year: 2016
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