Interdepartmental communication of HRM


This research will look into the increasing need for Interdepartmental Communication that is defined as a business communication one must understand in order to operate a business appropriately and its essential role in creating organizations success mainly focused on the role of two types of communication Symmetrical Communication and Asymmetrical Communication and its affects on the Organization Performance through increase in employees Trust, Commitment and Satisfaction. This affect will be seen by keeping human resource management (HRM) as a mediating variable. The Human Resources function in organization has a long and well documented history, during which it has evolved through a number of distinct stages from a mere record-keeping function to one of strategic importance and bottom-line impact. The purpose of this study is to examine the influences of HRM practices and interdepartmental communication on organization performance.

Data was collected by conducting a survey questionnaire method from 200 employees in three different multinational organizations (Telenor, Silk Bank and CureMD). A proposed methodology was applied for the analysis of the collected data. Research was carried out taking results, analyzing them and making the final conclusion. Further areas for future research and implications were also highlighted in this paper.

Keywords: Interdepartmental Communication, Symmetrical Communication, Asymmetrical Communication, Organizational Performance, Human Resource Management.


Human Resources managers have to rethink their role and that of the HR department with the organization as to develop synergy within all the departments of the company, not only for the purposes of contributing to the organization's bottom line, but also for their own survival. In today's competitive and unstable labor market, it is critically important for Human Resource Management to focus extensively on the strengthening and development of excellent leadership skills (Politis, 2004). Programs designed to develop and improve employee capabilities fails because of one simple reason that they lack a strong leadership team. That is why it is important to set up a proactive leadership team, developing a list of professionals with advanced leadership skills (Gupta, 2005).

HR continues to balance the demands of several different roles: business partner, internal consultant, operational and administrative expert and both employee and employer advocate (Clampitt & Downs, 1993). This may sound like business as usual; roles that aren't likely to create a mad rush of HR people arming themselves for the future. And yet we find very minimal interdepartmental communication which might be the result of personal conflicts, wrong hiring, and lack of interest from the top management (Brown, 2008). The ongoing challenge for the HR department is to establish new deliverables and to sustain strong partnerships with both internal and external customers. The ability to see the big picture-and to organize the resources to address the big picture will be more important than ever (Brown, 2008).

Two out of every three employees believes that the flow of communication between departments within their organization is poor which results in the decrease in the quality of the products and services provided by the organization (Katcher, 2008). Consider the following all-to-common scenarios: Personal conflict between department Managers, Communication can be time consuming, Communication is not a part of Standard Operating Procedures, Physical separation and Stereotyping. All of the above written scenarios we see every day around us, which are constantly resulting in organization performance going down and customers switch to other brands. The core of the problem can be human resource department in the company which is the center of the processing of the functions.

Literature Review

Interdepartmental Communication:

Internal communication is a specialized sub-discipline of communication that observes how people communicate in organizations and the nature of effective communication systems in organizations (L. Grunig et al., 2002). Employees are not only satisfied or dissatisfied with communication in general, but they can express varying degrees of satisfaction about different characteristics of communication (Clampitt & Downs, 1993).

The most popular concepts have been communication climate; satisfaction with communication; perceptions of the amount, sources, and flows of communication; and the amount and type of supervisor- subordinate communication (Clampitt & Downs, 1993).

Interdepartmental communication is the most critical element in an organizations success and organizations need to fill the gaps between what the customers expect and what they deliver (Chaffee & Tierney, 1985). The lack of communication occurs because everyone involved believes that they are too busy to informally inform and question others and they have their own goals and objectives to accomplish in a timely manner (Diamond, 2000). Within large corporate organizations, many individual departments are faced with the practical challenge of communicating effectively with internal stakeholders (Kahn, 1996). The field of corporate communications has emerged as an important resource for organizational management to define and control organizational identity in the eyes of external customers. However, little attention has been given in the literature to exploring inter-departmental communications as a strategic activity (Chaffee & Tierney, 1985).

Current corporate communications professionals collaborate with organizational management to facilitate the implementation of a broad corporate vision through both adaptive and interpretive strategies aimed at internal and external stakeholders (Cornelissen, 2004).

While communication scholars have paid a lot of attention to the dimensions of internal communication, they have focused on the roles of two types of communication: symmetrical communication and asymmetrical communication (J.Grunig, 1992). Symmetrical communication takes place through dialogue, negotiation, listening, and conflict management rather than through persuasion, manipulation, and the giving of orders. Asymmetrical communication in organizations, in contrast, is generally top-down. It is designed to control the behavior of employees in ways that management desires. Asymmetrical communication remains popular among members of dominant coalitions who strive to increase their power and to control others, rather than to empower employees throughout the organization (J.Grunig, 1992).

As departments can no longer work in isolation because the global need for inter communication has increased in order to sustain the competition, the need for interdepartmental communication has increased. Effective communication is the lifeblood of a successful organization. It reinforces the organization's vision, connects employees to the business, advance process improvement, facilitates change and drives business results (Kingsford, 2009).

Human Resources Management (HRM) as a Mediating Role:

Human resource management (HRM) is no longer a matter of implementing personnel strategies. In recent years, it has evolved into a complete business partner role. Now, the main emphasis is on the creation and development of HR solutions, executive engagement and key performance indicators (Casey, 2001). As the number of personal policies continued to increase, the importance of HRM has also increased (Russ, Galang, & Ferris, 1998). It was until 1970s and 1980s when Human Resource Management was viewed as impacting on organizational performance (Pfeffer, 1994). Attraction and retention of worldwide talent, functional strategy and delivery of business specific activities and programs have become major issues (Casey, 2001). When human resources are managed effectively by matching unique internal processes with external opportunities and needs, HRM serves as a source of competitive advantage over other firms in the industry (Arthur, 1994; Huselid, 1995). The core of a good organizational-employee relationship is to recognize and invest on the mutual interests of maximum satisfaction and financial returns (Filene, 1919). So in order to obtain cooperation, trust, loyalty and hard work among employees, organizations must fulfill the goals of employees and organization (Follett, 1925; Kaufman, 1993; Tead, 1929, 1931).

If a firm has good internal reputation it will have a positive affects on external image of the organization and that image will attract progressive employees and will bring in benefits in terms of goals achievement (Scherer, 1980). A literature examining the relationship between HRM and firm performance has revealed three distinct perspectives.

First perspective is a system approach, which examines the impact of an overall set of HR practices on firm performance (Delaney & Huselid, 1996). 2) Second perspective is the role of HRM in implementing strategic initiatives (Colbert, 2004). 3) Third perspective is HRM and firm performance in the resource-based view of the firm (Barney, 1991; Lado & Wilson, 1994).

Human resource management (HRM) practices are being increasingly treated as dependent rather than independent variables. Researchers have focused almost exclusively on how changes in HRM practices affect employee performance or satisfaction and how organizational conditions shape HRM practices (Hambrick and Snow 1987). Inter-organizational HRM practices are built on two fundamental assumptions: 1) HRM practices are a primary means for defining, communicating and rewarding desired role behaviors and 2) Desired role behaviors are a function of organizational characteristics (Naylor, Pritchard and Ilgen 1980).

HRM define the ways in which responsibility and power are allocated and work procedures are carried out by organizational members (Blau, 1970; Dewar & Werbel, 1979; Germain, 1996; Gerwin & Kolodny, 1992). Hage's (1980) defined four structural variables (centralization, stratification, formalization, and complexity) because they have been shown to provide a reliable way to study organizational behavior (L. Grunig, 1992). Organizational sociologists have found that Hage's variables have the greatest effect on job satisfaction and communication (J. Grunig, 1992).

Centralization describes the extent to which decision making is concentrated at the top of the organizational hierarchy. Centralization inhibits communication in organizations, whereas decentralization encourages the dispersion of information and decision making in an organization. Stratification represents the extent to which an organization makes clear who are its higher level employees and who are its lower level employees. Low levels of communication are associated with stratification. Formalization is the extent to which an organization follows written rules and regulations. A pervasiveness of rules and regulations discourages both innovation and communication. Hage (1980) noted that communication helps an organization coordinate its members, whereas formalization controls them (pp. 40-42). Complexity the fourth variable represents the extent, to which an organization has educated, professionalized employees who fill specialist roles upward communication, rather than a downward flow of communication. J. Grunig (1992) added a fifth structural variable Participation in decision making which often has appeared in audits of employee communication and in psychological theories of leadership. J. Grunig claimed it a structural variable because participation strategies such as participative management, quality circles, teams, or delegation of responsibility increase the autonomy of individuals and reduce their constraints. Participation is particularly relevant to communication because it increases the symmetry of communication and increases the likelihood of organizational outcomes associated with communication.

HRM combines these five variables into two general types of organizational structure (J.Grunig 1992). Organizations with mechanical structures are centralized, formalized, stratified, and less complex and do not allow employees to participate in decision making. Organizations with organic structures are less centralized, less formalized, less stratified, and more complex and facilitate participation in decision making.

In order to remain profitable in the long run, organizations must have a sustainable competitive advantage like organizational culture, employee moral and worker loyalty, promoted by HRM practices that are more difficult to copy than manufacturing processed or cost management strategies (Barney, 1991). In today's business world, HRM departments are considered as an integral part of the success of the organization.

The Influence of HRM and Interdepartmental Communication on Organizational Performance:

Marlow and O'Connor (1997) noted that the quality of relationships could be increased by facilitating participation and communication in all directions and overcoming barriers to knowledge sharing. J. Grunig (1992) noted that HRM and communication are strongly related to employee satisfaction, which is one of relationship outcomes. Satisfaction is found to be positively affected by communication openness (Suckow, 1995), interaction involvement and quality (Mohr & Sohi, 1995), and participation in decision making (Wheeless, Wheeless, & Howard, 1984). Pincus et al. (1990) explored the relationship between communication and job satisfaction. Communication climate was defined as how people communicate, the degree to which individuals perceive organizational communication to be supportive, and as a subjective experience identified through members' perceptions of organizational messages (p. 174). Positive relationship is shown between employees' perceptions of organizational communication and their perceived job satisfaction (Pincus et al. 1990).

Communication should be used strategically in order to build trust, commitment and mutual satisfaction with all the important stakeholders of the organization (Stroh, 2002). Especially, in today's management environment, where there is a extreme and turbulent change, information should flow more freely so that systems are more adaptive to environmental changes (Stroh, 2002, p. 22). Research has shown that organizations that involve employees to participate in decision making have higher levels of organizational commitment (Boshoff & Mels, 1995). In an extensive review of the effect of participation on performance, Wagner (1996) concluded that participation could have a statistically significant effect on both performance and satisfaction.

Theoretical Framework and Hypothesis

H1: Interdepartmental communication is positively related to increase in organizational performance.

H2: Does Interdepartmental communication has a positive relationship with the increase in organizational performance with the mediation of HRM?


Study Design and Sample:

A onetime survey and data collection method design was used to study the hypothesis relationships. The target sample for this study is 200 respondents. The data was collected in Pakistan using previously validated scale. Surveys were conducted from three different Multinational organizations (Telenor, Silk Bank and CureMD). Samples were selected with unequal probability from each company. Recent developments in research on inside organizational phenomena call for more precise and elaborate statistical analysis. This is because organizations are hierarchically nested systems (House, Rousseau, & Thomas-Hunt, 1995). They are multilevel by nature employee's work in groups and teams within organizations that are interrelated with each other (Klein, Dansereau, & Hall, 1994).


To measure internal communication and HRM practices, the IABC questionnaire (L. Grunig et al., 2002) was adopted and used as the standardized set of questions. The IABC questionnaire used an open-ended fractionation scale that contains a true zero for the complete lack of a certain characteristic and 100 as an average amount of any characteristic experienced by a practitioner. The scale was unbounded on the upper end, allowing respondents to write as high a number as they desired. Use of this scale provided greater numerical accuracy and greater variety in the data. However, in this study, considering the relatively uncommon use of the fractionation scale, I changed it into a 5-point Likert scale for all items, anchored by "strongly disagree" and "strongly agree."

And to measure relationship outcomes, I used Hon and J. Grunig's (1999) measure items that have been found to be valid measures of relationships. In an effort to develop reliable and effective measures of relationships, Hon and J. Grunig (1999) launched a series of research projects on the relationship measurement issue. I also changed it into a 5-point Likert scale for all items, anchored by "strongly disagree" and "strongly agree."

To assess the reliability and internal consistency of the data, Cronbach's alpha test was performed. Proposed statistical tools will be applied for the analysis and interpretations of the data. Final conclusion and recommendations will be suggested.


The participants for this study were drawn from three different private organizations located in Lahore City. The targeted organizations had an average of 300 or more members. These three selected organizations were Telenor, Silk Bank and Cure MD. The employees of these organizations were surveyed having a total population of 800. A total of 200 participants (144 male, 56 female) answered the survey questionnaire, specially designed on the defined scales of the variables.


Random Sampling was done for selecting the sample size and the right sample. All employees were provided with the survey questionnaire by hand allowing them to return them in a week's time period. All responses were confidential and the results were then collected at different times. Responses to the surveys were transcribed and content analyzed to assure the validity and reliability of the data.

Data Analysis:

I began the analysis of the hypothesized relationships by conducting statistical analyses. To assess the reliability and internal consistency of the data, Cronbach's alpha test was performed. I also conducted Regression Analysis to determine how well the items actually measured the variables they were designed to measure. Both of these tests were conducted using SPSS 16.0 program.

Results of the Study:

Cronbach's alpha test was performed to assess the reliability and internal consistency of the data. The result shows that C α is 0.786 which means that the data is reliable. The Anova table shows that the p-value is 0.000 that means the Model is significant for the use of Regression analysis.

Hypothesis Test:

Hypothesis 1 predicted that Interdepartmental Communication would be positively related to increase in organization performance through increase in employees' commitment, trust and satisfaction.

After applying the Regression analysis Interdepartmental Communication was found significantly related to all of the relationship outcomes and the associations were positive. The output shows that the P-value is 0.000 which is less than 0.05 that shows the results are significant.

This result indicated that in a company where the interdepartmental communication was used, employees had much commitment, trust and satisfaction and that leads to increase in organization performance. Thus, I found support for hypothesis 1.

Hypothesis 2 predicted that does Interdepartmental Communication has a positive relationship with the increase in organizational performance with the mediation of HRM?

After applying the test it was found that with the mediation of Human Resource Management (HRM) practices (p-value 0.04) it enhanced the relationship between interdepartmental communication (p-value 0.000) and increase in the organization performance (p-value 0.000). The output shows that the results are significant and the associations are positive.

This result shows that in a company where HRM practices are widely used and foster the interdepartmental communication results in the increase of organization performance. Thus, I found support for hypothesis 2.

Discussion and Conclusion

A major theoretical implication of this study's findings on the conceptualization of interdepartmental communication is to develop employee-organization relationships in organizations to enhance the performance. I examined the influence of Human Resource Management practices and internal communication on organization outcomes. The Regression analysis results supported the hypotheses, which predicted internal communication and HRM practices would be associated with the increase in organization performance. The study shows that communication occurs within a climate characterized by trust, commitment and satisfaction. The results indicated that organizations should establish internal communication system to build and maintain quality relationships with employees. Communication typically increases the likelihood that employees will be satisfied with their individual jobs and with the organization as a whole.

The results of this study provide relatively strong support for the existence of positive relationship between HRM practices and the performance of the organization. Investing in using HRM practices results in firms performing better. The HR practices must be aligned with the firm's strategy. To enhance the internal communication HR must focus on making organization structure that encourages decentralization because it leads to dispersion of information and decision making in an organization. Employees should be encouraged to participate in decision making because participation is particularly relevant to communication as it increases the likelihood of organizational outcomes. A pervasiveness of rules and regulations discourages both innovation and communication therefore organizations should be less formalized. Communication helps organization coordinate its members both Upward and downward flow of communication should be encouraged.

Finally, the findings of this study provide a rich body of knowledge from which multinational organizations can benefit when trying to understand what is the meaning of interdepartmental communication and HRM practices and what strategies to develop to manage communication and organizational performance. Overall, the results of this study showed that organizations could have quality relationships with employees by establishing HRM practices and communication systems.

Limitations of Study and Suggestions for Future Research

Although the results of this study clearly extend on our understandings of communication and HRM practices and there influence on organization performance, the research does have some limitations. The findings of this study are representative only of the three organizations that participated in the study. It is important to take into consideration that these organizations were unique in their organizational mission, structure, communication systems, and management style. A larger sample of employees and supervisors would have allowed for more accurate results and increased confidence in the results' generalizability. A broader study including a much larger sample utilizing all of the major types of organizations is recommended for later investigations.

In light of the foregoing review and evaluation, and the strengths and limitations of prior work on HRM practices, some directions for theory and research in this area could result in useful and productive streams of work. Although most of the research has been directed at individuals and organizations, HRM can be studied equally effectively at the department or sub-unit level of analysis as well. HR department represents a critically important issue that has been neglected to date, but which has great potential to contribute to our understanding of the roles, status, and positioning of HR departments in organizations today and in the future. We hope that this article will stimulate more theory and research in this important area of scientific inquiry.

Even though there has been little research about the influence of internal communication on internal relationship types. The linkage between HRM Practices and organization performance has received far less attention than the link with communication. There has been little research on this relationship. However, some pioneering activities can be found. More research is also needed to investigate the nature of organizational dimensions such as management and communication styles, superior/subordinate relationship, problem-solving style, personal feedback, work ethic, and organizational loyalty.


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