First Advisor

Leslie T. Good

Term of Graduation

Fall 1997

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Speech Communication


Speech Communication




Communication in organizations



Physical Description

1 online resource (v, 156 pages)


The purpose of this study was to determine how employees perceive formal and informal communication channels within their organizational experiences. This study sought to answer two questions: One, what are employees' perceptions of formal and informal communication channels? Two, what similar or dissimilar perceptions of formal and informal communication channels emerge from interview and observational data? I selected eight respondents from the greater Olympia, Washington and Seattle, Washington areas. Each respondent was purposely selected based upon their rich experiences across different sizes of and public/private structures of organizations. Additionally, I conducted seven observations within a medium-sized (50 -75 employee) public employer. I analyzed data through a qualitative approach. Upon my review of the data, six themes, or categories, common to informal and formal channels emerged.

These emergent categories are personal gain, organizational culture, costs of using the communication channel, characteristics, organizational structure, and personal behaviors. Four findings were unanticipated. One, the respondents did not report any meaningful distinctions between public and private organizations. Most respondents suggested that the size of the organization created a need for either formal or informal communication channels. Two, respondents noted that personal behaviors of other co-workers and supervisors affected how they perceived the exchange of information through formal and informal communication channels. Three, respondents perceived certain employees as informational leaders within the organization; this suggests that formal and informal leadership is a valuable approach to understanding organizational experiences. Four, both personal power and organizational power are perceived to affect the exchange of information through communication channels. I suggest further research in order to clarify the relationships between the emergent themes and the varied types of organizations; to understand how power affects perception of communication channels; and to analyze which emergent category has the most significance in the exchange of information through formal and informal communication channels.


In Copyright. URI:

This Item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s).


If you are the rightful copyright holder of this dissertation or thesis and wish to have it removed from the Open Access Collection, please submit a request to and include clear identification of the work, preferably with URL.

Persistent Identifier