Relational communication between Catholics and Protestants in the Northern Ireland workplace: A study of policies, practices and procedures

Owen Hargie, David Dickson, Seanenne Nelson

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    Abstract

    This paper presents the results of a study that investigated cross-community communication patterns in the Northern Ireland (NI) workplace. Work is one of the many institutions in NI affected by the deep politico-religious fault-line of division that pervades much of social life. That said, the workplace represents an environment where members of both communities do come together and associate. When this contact is typified by tension, disharmony and mutual recrimination, both the organisation and the wider community suffer. Good internal working relationships, on the other hand, have the potential not only to profit the organisation, but to ripple out through the wider community. It is therefore surprising that little research has been conducted into cross-community relations in the NI workplace. Indeed, institutions generally have been criticised for failing to play a more prominent role in promoting positive community relations. The main objectives of the study were to determine the manner in which contentious situations of a sectarian nature can best be managed, based on a comparison of organisational practice and to document ‘best practice’ guidelines to advise public and private sector organisations on effective methods of dealing with cross-community relations at work. The study involved 4 major organizations. Data was collected using an inventory to measure cross-community communication (n = 440); 22 in-depth interviews; and 16 focus groups. A very clear finding was that it was strongly felt that all of the organisations could do significantly more to reduce tensions between the two religious groupings. The results of the study will be discussed in terms of both organisational and relational communication.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)89-107
    JournalAustralian Journal of Communication
    Volume32
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2005

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