With roots in social psychology, human relations, and organizational theory and behavior, the discipline of organizational communication has emerged in the last 25 years with its own content, methodology, and applications. Although one of the first major literature reviews of this field was produced about 15 years after much of the early foundation research had been completed (Guetzkow, 1965), the next major reviews were published in half the time (Porter & Roberts, 1972; Redding, 1972). As further evidence of the sheer quantity of research being completed in this new discipline, four additional reviews and syntheses were published during the next four years (Pietri et al., 1974; Goldhaber, 1975; Bernstein, 1976; Richetto, 1977). In fact, as Richetto closed his 1976 overview of the field, he predicted that there would “likely be continued attempts at integrating and synthesizing findings” (p. 336). Little did he realize that within two years, three additional reviews would appear (Dennis, Goldhaber, Yates, 1978; Farace, Taylor, Stewart, 1978; Monge, Edwards, Kirste, 1978).

The present synthesis and review, with its emphasis on findings and implications, combines the results of recent North American and European research with those of the first 16 studies completed by the International Communication Association (1CA) Communication Audit. We have divided the review into three major sections: a historical overview of the major findings from both North America and Europe; major findings from the ICA Communication Audit; and implications of all major findings for future research.