Creating healthy democracy: Voice + listening for meaningful engagement

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The Handbook of Listening, 2020, pp. 385 - 395
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Speaking and listening are recognized and receive considerable attention in studies of interpersonal communication and related fields such as leadership studies. However, how organizations listen to their stakeholders has not been examined until recently, and studies show that public communication by organizations is predominantly focussed on speaking to disseminate their messages. Organizational listening poses special challenges such as the issue of scale. Large organizations such as government departments and agencies, national and multinational corporations and large non-government organizations need to be able to listen to thousands, hundreds of thousands, or even millions of voices, which is beyond the capability of interpersonal listening. This chapter examines this communication gap in theory and practice, and proposes concepts and methods to operationalize effective organizational listening necessary to create meaningful engagement and participation, which can invigorate democracy and contribute to social equity.
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