Toward Understanding the Importance of the Different Aspects of Oral Communication: An Exploratory Study of MBA Students in Portugal.

Author:Gomes, Carlos F.
Position:Report
 
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INTRODUCTION

The business organizations of the near past utilized closed-system business models. These business models tended to stress operational efficiency and internal focus. As such, their strategies, systems, processes and communication patterns emphasized the business model of doing things right. In such a business culture, communication with external entities such as suppliers and customers was based on a need to know basis.

Recent changes in the competitive environment have forced today's business organizations to change their business models to stress innovation, empowerment of employees, and customer-orientation strategic approaches. These changes have increased the role of effective communication with its different facets. In this context, oral communication has gained more relevance as these organizations communicate with their internal stakeholders as well as with suppliers and customers. Today's organizations are searching for leaders who are able to communicate effectively with both organizational members as well as with outside partners in an effort to promote strategic joints. Despite the multifaceted skills needed by business leaders, oral communication remains an important skill needed to these leaders. In this context, nothing gets done, unless it is communicated effectively. As such oral communication is the pivotal point of many managerial processes and actions. Despite the increasing role of oral communication to effective management and leadership, oral communication remains a mere subject-based offering in many business institutions of higher learning rather than an integrated process of the business curriculum. The decline of the integrated oral communication into the managerial process could be blamed on the increasing attention to advances in technological-based subjects offered by these institutions. In other words, the role of oral communication in today's business higher learning institutions is lost in favor of more technological changes. As these institutions rush to adopt more technological-based courses and methods of delivery, oral communication and its importance to the managerial process is almost lost.

The objective of this stream of research is to bring more attention to the importance of oral communication as an important leadership skill. For this purpose, the dimensions of oral communication for a sample of future potential business leaders in favor of MBA students from a Portuguese university is studied. Identifying these dimensions will allow business schools to refocus on the different facets of broad ramifications. In the process, these dimensions could be integrated into a problem-based model of business education.

BACKGROUND

In response to the open-system performance demands of business organizations, institutions of higher business learning are finding it necessary to re-orient their own educational systems, programs of study, and educational models in order to become more open in nature. Open communication through different medias and channels is very essential to the open-system orientation. As such, business education must be capable of equipping graduates with the communication tools, skills, and know-how in order for these graduates to meet the demands of the global business community. Therefore, most institutions of higher learning are re-engineering their graduate and undergraduate programs to make them more in tune with the requirements of the new job market (Winkel, 2010). These programs are being modified to stress an educational approach, which emphasizes cross-disciplinary knowledge, innovation, problem solving, entrepreneurship initiatives, and creative systematic critical thinking (Czuchry, Yasin, & Gonzales, 2004). All these modifications tend to be communication intensive in nature. This educational environment tends to be performance-oriented. It emphasizes both the technical aspects of education as well as the human aspects of organizational performance (Ge, 2003). However, a more direct emphasis on the oral aspects of communication is still lacking yet demanded.

Despite the recent efforts of business education to re-engineer its educational model, gaps between traditional business educational preparation and recent organizational performance expectations have been subjects of concern among scholars and practitioners (Agut, Grau, & Peiro, 2003...

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