Making time to communicate: a case of internal change communication within a District Health Board in New Zealand.
Thesis DisciplineBusiness Administration
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Commerce
Communication is fundamental to the ongoing function of an organisation. Its study is important in order for communication managers to refine internal communication processes and achieve employee engagement, particularly with change communication. To gain a comprehensive understanding of the way communication is experienced in an organisation, it is necessary to examine it from the communicators' perspectives. An interpretive research approach seeks to understand phenomena from subjects‟ perspectives and so provided an ideal research framework for this study. This thesis reports on a study of the sense frontline staff within a large public health organisation made of the change communication related to the introduction of the change initiative Making Time for Caring (MT4C) and presents the conceptual model of sensemaking about change communication that emerged from this study. In so doing, it provides a rich picture of participants‟ sensemaking behaviour and a conceptual framework that could assist communication managers refine their internal communication management practices during change in similar organisations. Participants were selected from two primary hospitals within the chosen District Health Board. Both had implemented MT4C and the subsequent Fast Track Rollout (FTR) change initiatives that aimed to improve ward efficiency so staff had increased time to spend with patients. Using an interpretive approach, participants‟ accounts of their engagement with the associated change communication were gathered through three data collection phases, and analysed in order to develop a model that accounted for their engagement with the communication related to these two change initiatives. The media utilised in the change communication campaigns and the perceived relevancy of this communication to the work being undertaken were found to be primary considerations participants took into account when judging whether to engage with the change process.. Additionally, a culture of time poverty and unique workplace network divisions were found to modify the process of engaging with internal communication. The emergent model that captures these findings thus integrates considerations of media, relevance, organisational culture and social relations. In so doing, it provides a unique contribution to the change management and organisational communication literatures that could be used as a framework for further study.