Alignment in Communication: Towards a new theory of communication

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Alignment in Communication

The ultimate purpose is to extend our knowledge about human communication, as well as creating a foundation for natural multimodal dialogue in human-machine interaction. Its cross-disciplinary nature makes the book a useful reference for cognitive scientists, linguists, psychologists, and language philosophers, as well as engineers developing conversational agents and social robots. Introduction: Why a new theory of communication? A multidimensional activity based approach to communication. On making syntax dynamic: The challenge of compound utterances and the architecture of the grammar.

Eleni Gregoromichelaki, Ruth M. Kempson, Christine Howes and Arash Eshghi. Automatic and strategic alignment of co-verbal gestures in dialogue.

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Communication as moving target tracking: Dynamic Bayesian inference with an action-perception-learning cycle. This book collects jewels of brilliant discussion focused on alignment in communication from multiple angles. It reports key questions and insights obtained from intensive interdisciplinary research among leaders in cognitive interaction technologies towards better human-agent communications in the network age. It surveys the evidence that has brought this idea to prominence in studies of human interaction.

Perhaps even more importantly it also sets out the critical conceptual and methodological challenges that will define the future development of this work. There are articles addressing different aspects of communication in depth: phonology, syntax, gesture, emotions and cognitive representations, and even an article about teaching language to robots! Alignment is also examined from various perspectives, including empirical, theoretical, and computational models.

According to Baker , successful alignment between business strategy and IT requires strong leadership. Baker asked executives to indicate whether their company's management style was autocratic, collaborative, or indecisive. Most firms led by collaborative managers indicated that their company's IT was well aligned with business strategy. On the other hand, managers in firms with autocratic or indecisive leadership reported a lower level of alignment. Feeny et al.

In firms with successful CEO—CIO relationships, the CEO tended to have had a career background in marketing or general management, employed change-oriented leadership, attended IT awareness-raising seminars, experienced IT project success, perceived IT as critical, and positioned IT as an agent of business transformation.

Lederer and Mendelow found that IT executives were successful only if supported by the top management. For instance, alignment improved as a result of the CEO encouraging business participation in IT planning, the establishment of an IT plan, and IT management's participation in business planning.

In most firms, documenting the business plan facilitates alignment. Simply put, alignment cannot readily occur if the business lacks a formalized strategic business plan in the first place Vitale et al. Clearly defined business goals and vision are often first steps in an alignment process. In a study of small manufacturers, Cragg et al. While two-thirds of the sample had a written business plan, only a quarter had formalized their IT strategy. So while IT planning existed in small firms, much of it was carried out informally Lefebvre and Lefebvre, Critical success factors for aligning IT plans with business plans from Teo and Ang The IT department being able to identify creative ways to use IT strategically.

The 3 V's of Communication

Lederer and Mendelow found that coordination of the IT plan and the business plan were achieved in three dimensions Shank et al. The more sophisticated the planning process, the greater the likelihood of involvement of personnel from different areas of expertise. This in turn led to improved shared knowledge and ultimately alignment.

Factors that IT executives can directly impact are project priority setting, IT knowledge of the business, and IT leadership. Factors under business control are IT involvement in strategy development, and senior executive support for IT. Campbell and Reich and Benbasat identified communication as a key antecedent to alignment. Communication was often associated with understanding, which in turn increased the locus of comprehension.


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The argument exists that the typical IT person lacks good communication skills. Campbell suggested this might be a myth and pointed out that even if some IT personnel wanted to communicate they would not be allowed to.

Towards a new theory of communication

Organizations using a technocratic coping response, as opposed to a collaborative coping response, could discourage communication between themselves and the IT group. Sledgianowski and Luftman noted that communication should be a fundamental and regularly occurring task of all managers and employees. For alignment, business—IT communication should regularly occur and be pervasive throughout the organization.


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They argued that it should also be informal and should use appropriate methods such as e-mail, videoconferencing, and face-to-face communications. Gupta et al. They argued that there is no one solution for alignment problems.

Strategic alignment - Wikipedia

Rather, it is the alignment capabilities possessed by an organization that enable it to leverage technology to gain competitive advantage. Street looked at how alignment capabilities developed over time and how they could be measured. He developed measures for seven alignment capabilities: IS service matching, environmental IT scanning, assessing alignment, building stakeholder commitment, IT filtering, prioritizing IT resources, and strategic IT experiments.

He found that in organizations that had experienced episodes of punctuated change, their alignment capabilities were weakened by the change. Henderson and Venkatraman argue that strategic alignment can influence organizational transformation in a descriptive sense i. Technology influences the power and reach of organizations. High performing organizations often have developed capabilities to harness and align IT Scott Morton, IT alignment is a management concern primarily because of its potential impact on firm performance.

In this section, we focus on organization and industry-level outcomes. Strategic IT alignment leads to increased profits for an organization, above and beyond what would be expected to be produced using only industry and strategy variables Floyd and Woolridge, ; Powell, ; Chan et al. Sabherwal and Chan found that alignment is significantly correlated with perceived business performance, although this link is complex and is dependent on the business strategy.

For Defender strategies, they uncovered no significant relationship between alignment and performance, whereas the alignment—performance relationship was observed for Prospectors and Analyzers. Yetton concluded that if the separation of business and IT was substantial, company performance suffered. This separation contributed to organization's failing to learn how to manage IT investments and extract value from them. Similarly, Sauer and Burn argued that when business decisions were made without consideration of IT, there was a risk of pathological or damaging outcomes.

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However, not all evidence concludes that alignment has direct or positive performance implications. This was attributed to the failure of alignment to be achieved with some degree of flexibility. That is, companies locked themselves into an alignment plan via investing in various technologies that hindered their ability to react to change.

Similarly, Palmer and Markus did not find a relationship between alignment and performance when examining the use of Quick Response technology in the retailing sector. It has been argued that these negative or unclear results are due to a lack of control variables in the analyses.

Byrd et al. The real value in alignment was in leveraging the firm's IT investment.

2nd Annual Aligning HR & Internal Communications | New York City

Strategically well-aligned IT can change industries. By increasing the scope and impact of IT in these organizations, the industry structure was transformed causing significant market shifts McKenney et al. The impacts of alignment go beyond firm boundaries. We have discussed the antecedents and outcomes of IT alignment as documented in the literature. However, contingency theory posits that there is no universally superior strategy or way to organize in a given context or environment Venkatraman, ; rather, the context and structure must fit together if an organization is to perform well Drazin and Van de Ven, Applied to IT alignment, contingency theory tells us that certain contextual and organizational factors fit together to facilitate alignment.

Thus, certain business and IT factors, when combined in certain contexts, produce superior performance. We present several contingencies in this section. In their study, business and academic institutions were compared. Organizational size had little impact on alignment in academic institutions and environmental uncertainty had limited impact on alignment in for-profit businesses. Alignment can be more difficult in industries with quick clock speeds, when there are economic downturns and scarce resources, for certain organizational strategies, and at certain points in the organizational life cycle.

Peak et al. In their study, the increased competition that came with deregulation highlighted the importance of alignment. While very small firms may be well aligned because the level of communication is high and individuals play multiple roles, medium-sized institutions frequently show less evidence of alignment. As organizations continue to grow in size and complexity, more formal planning processes are enacted to help ensure an integrated vision for IT. In larger organizations, managers more commonly introduce formal processes and structures to ensure alignment Hale and Cragg, Larger firms tend to have more slack, which can be devoted for alignment purposes.

Therefore, large firms may also be well aligned. This result was explained by institutional theory as academic institutions tend to function similarly regardless of size. Raymond et al.

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