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Vertical and Horizontal Communication in Formal Organizations

Richard L. Simpson
Administrative Science Quarterly
Vol. 4, No. 2 (Sep., 1959), pp. 188-196
DOI: 10.2307/2390677
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2390677
Page Count: 9
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Vertical and Horizontal Communication in Formal Organizations
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Abstract

Traditional theory holds that communication in organizations should, and does, move vertically throughout the hierarchy, rather than cutting across the lines of authority. In order to test this assumption, interviews were carried out among supervisors in a textile mill. Communication among first-line foremen was found to be mainly horizontal. A critical variable in the direction of communication is apparently the degree of mechanization of the work process. Some conflicting research findings are discussed, and the author concludes with the hypothesis that mechanization reduces the need for close supervision and vertical communication since the machines instead of the foreman set the work pace of subordinates.

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