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American Red Cross Communication Structure

Communication is a significant aspect in organizations (Barnlund 2008). Formal and informal modes of communication are used to ensure that information reaches the aimed parties. Formal communication includes employee memos, written policies, and brochures; whilst informal communication encompasses employee grapevine (Littlejohn & Foss 2008). Communication is affected and governed by the culture and structure of an organization, and this is felt both internally and externally. The structure also influences the perception of an organization by external parties. For instance, failure to empower staff members to make fast decisions to solve urgent issues may result in a negative view. Having appropriate communication strategies allows information to flow effectively in organizations (Schein 1992). For instance, the management may convey policies downward to the workforce. Communication may also take place horizontally. To ensure effective communication, it is important for organizations to have a directional balance.

Overview of the American Red Cross

The American Red Cross (ARC) is a humanitarian organization headquartered in Washington, D.C. (Irwin 2013). The organization offers disaster relief, emergency assistance, and education services in the United States. Other areas of focus encompass communication services, community services, international relief programs, as well as collection and distribution of blood products. The American Red Cross is a chosen associate of the Red Crescent Societies and International Federation of Red Cross (American Red Cross 2013). The organization obtains its finances from community donations, and revenues from health training and sale of blood products.

Communication Structure and Processes

The American Red Cross uses effective communication strategies in the day-to-day operations that enable the organization to execute its functions effectively, whilst meeting the expectations of the clients (Rubin et al. 2009). The organization employs a strategic communication approach in its internal communication, through which the workers assist in meeting the company’s objectives, and fulfilling its mission. Over the past years, the American Red Cross developed and implemented a multi-channel and incorporated communication strategy that stimulated the key players into the transformational procedure. Besides, the strategy resulted into operational and structural efficiency. Thus far, the effort has evidenced to be a major factor in achieving organizational goals and objectives. The communication process is comprised of four major components that include encoding, decoding, transmission medium, and feedback (McPhee & Zaug 2000). Other components encompass the sender and the receiver of communicated messages (Tofanelli 2012). These components are integrated in the communication strategy of the American Red Cross. The communication structure and processes of the American Red Cross can be explained in terms of communication theories as explained herein.

Machine Metaphor Theory

Machine metaphor is one of the classical communication theories relevant to the American Red Cross. The theory expects individuals to operate in a mechanical manner by adhering to processes and rules (Sarangi & Candlin 2011). Individuals are believed to be parts of an organization, whilst the latter is deemed to be a machine (Sarangi & Candlin 2011). The machine assists people in attaining their desired goals and objectives. The American Red Cross is planned, controlled, and divided into operational departments with defined duties. The communication department is in charge of all communication, both internal and external, that takes place in the organization. The top officials convey information which travels in the entire organization in a defined manner, which results in particular outcomes.

The organization has a structured communication system (American Red Cross 2011). Besides, information is communicated downwards to the workforce in the American Red Cross. This is evidenced by the presence of key officials who oversee the flow of communication in the organization. This implies that information is conveyed from the top officials to the bottom line employees. For instance, the global communications director has a responsibility of developing and implementing communications strategies for the organization’s disaster responses and global service programs. The strategies are then presented to the organization’s top officials who later communicate them to the volunteers and workers to guide them in their daily activities. Suzy DeFrancis, the Chief of Public Affairs directs all communications to ensure that the organization meets its mission and objectives. Another key official in charge of communication is the vice president of public relations, Laura Howe. She directs daily crisis communication endeavors and media relations. Besides, Howe is responsible for managing expert communication teams for international services, military services, disaster services, and biomedical services. Howe is also responsible for managing efforts of social media used by Red Cross. Through this, the organization has been able to obtain the information related to disaster victims.

Mechanistic Theory

According to mechanistic theory, individuals can examine and construe natural incident on the basis of available facts (Miller 2005). The mechanistic perspective puts forth that communication entails information transmission between two parties; that is the sender and the receiver. These two are components of a communication process. The theory is evident in the American Red Cross based on the fact that the organization engages both in internal and external communication. Information is conveyed by the organization (sender) to the targeted parties (receivers). For instance, the American Red Cross employs emergency communication services during a crisis. The organization conveys emergency notifications including illness, death, and injury of military family members, as well as good news such as child birth to service members. In its everyday operations, the organization communicates urgent information to the appropriate parties. Such information is usually accurate, verified, complete and contains emergency descriptions to service members around the globe. In the case of military service, the organization helps officers in making sound decisions concerning emergency. This kind of communication is external, whereby the organization communicates with its clientele in order to fulfill the mission of serving the community (Cheney et al. 2004).

Weber’s Theory of Bureaucracy

According to Weber’s theory of Bureaucracy, the advancement of communication technologies have facilitated the administrative system (May & Mumby 2005). The American Red Cross has some form of bureaucratic administration considering that it is a hierarchical organization with a defined line of power. The organization also has rules and regulations that govern behavior, whilst human resources advance in their career depending on thequalifications. Although bureaucracy is recognized as the most effective structure of organization, it is believed to threaten individual sovereignty. The characteristics of bureaucratic organization according to Weber include procedures and rules, hierarchy of power, specialization, job descriptions, and formal communication (Wilson 1989).

These aspects are evident in the American Red Cross. For instance, the organization makes use of formal communication to convey information both internally and externally. All behaviors, decisions, regulations, and rules are documented and shared in a sequence of command. This implies that the employees are aware of their responsibility as far as communication is concerned. The organization has also employed individuals in terms of their area of specialization to assist in the communication processes. For instance, the global communications director has a responsibility of developing and implementing communications strategies for the organization’s disaster responses and global service programs. The Chief of Public Affairs directs all communications to ensure that the organization meets its mission and objectives, whilst the vice president of public relations directs daily crisis communication endeavors, and governs expert communication teams for international services, military services, disaster services, and biomedical services. These duties enable the employees to reach the goals and objectives of the organization. The presence of a hierarchy of power enables information to be communicated in a direct line (Morgan 2006). The superior officials communicate directly to their subordinates using both written and verbal communication. They also communicate externally to key parties and clients for instance, families of military members.

Conclusion

As discussed in the paper, communication is an essential aspect in organizations. Having appropriate communication strategies allows information to flow effectively. To ensure effective communication, it is important for organizations to have a directional balance. The paper has focused on communication structure and processes evident in the American Red Cross in terms of communication theories. The organization offers disaster relief, emergency assistance, and education services in the United States. Other areas of focus encompass communication services, community services, international relief programs, as well as collection and distribution of blood products. As evidenced, mechanistic theory, machine metaphor theory, and Weber’s Theory of Bureaucracy are integrated in the organization. The American Red Cross uses effective communication strategies in its day-to-day operations and this enables the organization to execute its functions effectively, whilst meeting the expectations of the clients. Furthermore, it has a structured communication system that enables the superior officials to communicate information to their subordinates among other key players. The presence of a hierarchy of power enables information to be communicated in a direct line. The various components of the communication process including encoding, decoding, transmission medium, sender, receiver, and feedback are also evident in the organization. The effectiveness of the communication structure and processes of the American Red Cross enables the organization to meet its goals and fulfill its mission.