‘Open but not blank’: Preliminary fieldwork for exploration of the influence of Transactional Analysis on internal communication in a case organisation

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperConference paperpeer-review


Internal communication is very important for organisational success, but often undervalued or neglected by leaders. Education in soft skills for managers and employees can help improve internal communication, foster personal and interpersonal abilities and contribute to a healthy organisational climate and culture. Some authors claim that Transactional Analysis (TA) can contribute to organisational improvement. This article explains how the researcher used ‘sensitising concepts’ to inform and orientate early fieldwork activities in a public administration unit in Switzerland. According to Patton (2016), sensitising concepts can be used to lead primary observations in a particular setting. They also provide a starting point for thinking about data and can act as an initial guide to research. In the context of this case study, the researcher sought to enter the field open to discovery but not conceptually blank. Two questions were asked: What sensitising concepts are identifiable in the internal training program booklet and TA courses for 2017? And in what ways do the identified sensitising concepts align with or differ from important mainstream concepts of internal communication? The researcher concentrated on words and meanings in the organisation’s internal training program documents, and found they suggested different ways of organising and relating. A list of six sensitising concepts – optimism, shared responsibility, DIALOGUE, practitioner repertoire of skills, espoused values, personal and professional growth – informed an open framework for the subsequent preparation of questions, interview guides and ways of working across internal communication and TA. The article shows that this loose framework of sensitising concepts has provided a starting point for an exploration of internal communication and TA that promises to enhance understanding of both.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRefereed Proceedings of the Australian and New Zealand Communication Association Conference 2017
Subtitle of host publicationCommunication Worlds: Access, Voice, Diversity, Engagement
EditorsFiona Martin
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 2017
EventAustralia and New Zealand Communication Association (ANZCA) 2017 Annual Conference - University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia
Duration: 04 Jul 201707 Jul 2017
http://anzca2017.com/ (Conference website)
http://anzca.net/conferences/past-conferences/2017-conf/p2.html (Conference proceedings)


ConferenceAustralia and New Zealand Communication Association (ANZCA) 2017 Annual Conference
Abbreviated titleCommunication worlds: Access, voice, diversity, engagement
OtherThe Australian and New Zealand Communication Association (ANZCA) brings together researchers, students, and teachers from an expanding array of communication disciplines. Established as the Australian Communication Association in 1980, the trans-Tasman character of the association was formally recognised in 1994. The Association encourages and promotes scholarship in the broad field of communication teaching and research and supports vital forums for communicating research. These include the annual conference and two journals, Communication Research and Practice and Media International Australia.
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