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Synergy in Media Communication Research

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Media
Wordcount: 4219 words Published: 23rd Sep 2019

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Synergy in Media Communication Research


Synergy is an important part of an important part of successful mass communication. The purpose of this paper is to review synergy theory in regards to communication. The paper will adopt Chaffee’s guide in ‘Explication.’ Explication is the process by which abstract concepts are systematically connection to observable variation applicable to the real world using appropriate methods. According to Chaffee (1991), theorizing human communication us a common concept in human socialization. The availability of theories in human communication has effectively improved the intelligence and transformation of social interaction. The paper uses Chaffee’s theory guide to comprehensively address the concept of synergy in mass communication.


Synergy can be defined as a group of individuals coordinating with the aim of achieving a particular task that would be impossible when acted alone. Synergy in mass communication has been a complex term since its implementation in the 1930s. The media industry, synergy is perceived as the sum of the whole is greater than parts. Also, explicating is a critical concept of synergy since it improves the understanding of media’s civic calling conglomerates as communication. In other words, explication assesses the key dimensions of synergy; how the mass communication development of synergy is changing and how to implement future suggestions (Thorson & Moore, 2013). Also, Chaffee’s Think About Theory can effectively digest synergy concept in communication based on the idea that effectiveness improves when two or more people coordinate.

Primitive Term

According to Chaffee (1991), primitive terms are words that are commonly understood in an organization. In other words, they cannot be questioned in within the organization. Since an organization is a combination of persons with stipulated boundaries, synergy can be achieved through frequent communication and coordination in their daily tasks. Also, time and space is an important concept that addresses primitive term in synergy communication. The success of synergy communication depends on how individuals utilize their time and space. Positive use of time and space encourage synergy since individual share ideas that improve the overall performance of the organization. A primitive term can also be defined as phrase or meaning that are widely shared hence complex for further definition except through the use of synonyms (Chaffee, 2014).

Derived (terms)

According to Chaffee (1991), a derived term is a development of primitive term. Chaffee adds that the two terms best define the public- how people behave when handling a task. On the other hand, a derived term is commonly referred to as scientific. In other words, its occurrence is as a result of a combination of two or more primitive terms. Primitive terms is a raw data hence lack meaning while derived terms include meaningful perspectives (Chaffee, 2014).


Validity is a critical concept in synergy communication research. Since ‘we’ is a synergy operational concept, validity depends on the organization’s explication (Chaffee, 2014). Validity can be described as measuring what is intended for measurement. In a synergy communication research, there is a need for theory testing through the validity of a hypothesis and the extent at which it represents the research. Also, valid synergy research should provide a distinction between external validity and internal validity. Internal validity is what is found, done and inferred in a single study. On the other hand, external validity is the generalization of a study concept in other context, times and units of study. The synergy communication research has to address its operational consistency with both the study findings and the universal perspectives (Thorson & Moore, 2013).

Focal Concept

A focal concept in communication research emphasizes how an abstract ides can be transformed it concrete ideas to be studied. In other words its how an abstract concept can be measured. A successful focal concept depends on the researcher’s abilities to familiarize with previous studies in a related field than develop a unit of measurement for the variables. In their review of the focal concept, the research can emphasize the determination of whether the concept is variable. Therefore, in case the concept is not variable, then more variables could be generated from it (Chaffee, 1991).

Planned Use

Research plan defines the principals that the study will adopt. Synergy research includes a design that addresses important concepts like the methods, objectives, and data execution methods. Also, planned use demonstrates the author’s familiarity with the research topic. Synergy research planned describes the essential elements that the research will adopt throughout the process (McLeod, 2001).

Unit Definition

The unit definition provides the measure at which the research will define various concepts. The unit definition should be stated during the theorizing and explanation of observed and empirical work. Since humans are generally a social being, development of a communal unit definition ensures that various concepts synergy communication strategies are equally and comprehensively addressed (Chaffee, 1991).

Relationship to time

Synergy communication research attributes both cross-sectional variance and process variance (Thorson & Moore, 2013).  Cross-sectional variance describes how a concept varies across individual at a given point in time. On the other hand, process variance describes the change of a concept attribute across time. In other words, ‘Attitude’ is a cross-sectional variance while ‘attitude change’ is a process variance. Synergy communication research will prefer experimental tests for effects hypothesis since their researcher controls time and the attribute change can be related to the processing set in motion by the communication intervention. In communication research, many attributes are more of social aggregate than of individual unit of analysis (Chaffee, 2014).

Literature search

A literature review is an important part of any research. Literature search involves accessing previous research that is related to the study topic. Various research ideas can be generated by reading other people studies hence putting the study on a broader scale. Explication can be helpful in bounding study on a concept through sorting studies that can contribute the idea being developed. Inability to find proper literature can indicate that the poor research strategy or the concept had no previous findings hence a chance for the researcher to the novel idea that can be heartening. On the other hand, the absence of previous literature could indicate that the concept has no meaningful contribution (Chaffee, 2014).

Varying definition of a concept

Varying definition of a concept ensures all important ideas of the study are addressed from a broader perspective. A broader view of a concept increases the sense of coherence and resilience in the research. Also, it ensures that the main idea and the research objectives are met by through theory application. Varying definition of concept provides an opportunity for the researcher to produce high-quality information and knowledge that is applicable beyond the research setting (Chaffee, 1991).

Misidentification of the concept

Concept misidentification is a major concern in communication research. Misidentification of a concept makes a research inability to meet reliability and validity research. Proper identification a concept involves evaluating the critical ideas that are relevant to the study topic. It is important that the researcher use current and relevant literature in the identification of a concept. Deep conceptual learning through brainstorming improves the validity of the research rather than the use of superficial knowledge and unnecessary vocabulary. An excellent concept formulation can involve the researcher studying multiple concepts, identifying their similarities and difference before arriving at rational thought (Chaffee, 1991).

Operation contingencies

Operation contingencies can be defined as the analysis of the literature reviews to explore similarities and differences among them with the aim of focusing and findings that are relevant to the research theory. Therefore, operational contingencies can categorize the published literature according to research method, date, place and historical setting. The leadership of an organization is a critical aspect of synergy communication (Chaffee, 2014). In synergy communication research, sorting out the literature on the basis of such operational contingencies can help the researcher understand the potential range of measurements adjudicating conflicting findings (Thorson & Moore, 2013). 

Analysis and synthesis

The analysis is the procedure that research adopts to break down an intellectual whole into parts. On the other hand, synthesis is a combination of separate elements to develop a coherent whole. In other words, synthesis is the opposite of analysis. Both terms are critical features of a synergy communication research. Therefore, the literature search in communication research becomes a study itself. An organized synthesis allows diffusion of thousands of studies around a set of empirical generalization and subdiscipline within conceptual distinction. According to Chaffee (1991), analysis becomes the main product of theorizing which allows other researchers to locate their particular diffusion studies in a broader theoretical context.

Processing the literature

Processing the literature in communication study enables the researcher to critically evaluate the nature of the literature in relation to the overall study. The researcher must develop confidence through transformative reading hence becoming an expert in the area of the research. Critical analysis of the works of literature allows the researcher in identifying the research gap in various researches by looking at the study strength and weakness. Processing the literature allows the research to identify any flaws in the research design and select a sample size capable of generalizing other populations (Huang, (2006).

Levels of definition

Communication research includes the various level of definition. To effectively accomplish communication research, one must use the various level of definitions that allows the researcher to access more information about the topic. Level of definitions allows the concept to be broken down into a concept that allows measurements. In a synergy communication study, the basic building block is analysis the relationship between individuals working together to accomplish a task. Communication researchers use the concept of human as a social being to construct casual explanation hence pinpoint an essential idea that can represent a larger population (Chaffee, 1991).

Nominal definition

The nominal definition includes ensuring that the concepts answer the research question. For a researcher to construct an explanation of various relationships or event, they must define the terms intended to use in the study. In a synergy, communication study patriotism as an individual’s loyalty to their country. On the other hand, patriotism can also be defined as love for one’s organization hence encouraging cooperation in their interaction. A good nominal definition includes the researcher defining the concepts rather than linking it to a different concept. Also, circular definition prevents focal focus hence lacking the element of specificity in the research (Chaffee, 1991).

Meaning Analysis

Meaning analysis is the use of logical procedures to define a concept that has a direct connection to the operational and conceptual definition. Just like an empirical analysis, it also includes the iterative process of concept explication. Meaning analysis will ensure the synergy mass communication research focuses on important concept and notify the researcher in case of deviation (Chaffee & Schleuder, 1986).  Meaning analysis can be performed through two major procedures; distillation or by a list. Distillation is the process of boiling down concepts to their basic ideas. On the other hand, a listing is stating all minimum requirements for the development of a concept. Chaffee’s model can improve synergy communication in media by addressing both theoretical and empirical work disputes (Huang, 2006).

Empirical definition

An empirical definition can be defined as the working definition or the specification of the study in which the concept is measured. The empirical definition specifies how a concept is measured hence the need for clarity. The empirical definition allows the researcher to asses the extent of operational support of the theoretical claims and develop causal explanations. In a synergy communication research, concepts to use in addressing the research problem could include organizational culture and attitude, leadership and socialization (Chaffee, 2014). To operationalize such concepts, the researcher needs to focus socialization aspect of the organization. A good empirical definition normally includes the scholar going through the few studies, proceeds to explication, modifies the preliminary definition then returns to the literature with a sharper definition. However, reading in advance too much literature that is loosely connected lead to time wastage and less practical (Chaffee, 2014).

Required observation and a real definition

Required observation includes focusing on the identification of important concepts of the research. The researcher records data as either a participant (active observer) or a non-participant (passive observer). Clarity in the research in required observation is it ensures that the research makes an expected observation and that they are accurately recorded. On the other hand, the real definition includes describing the concept with their original meaning rather than focusing on their expectation or intentions (Chaffee, 1991).

Formal operations

The formal operations stage of communication research includes the development of the ability to evaluate the abstract concepts. It requires logical thoughts, systematic planning, and deductive reasoning. In synergy communication research, formal operations allow the researcher to conduct concrete procedures acted on the initial hypothesis and ideas (Chaffee, 1991). The researcher can think about abstract and hypothetical concepts that they are yet to experience throughout the study. Formal operations determine the validity and reliability of the research hence the researcher attempts multiple lengths of the abstract concept with the aim of describing the difference between working individual and having a synergetic communication process (Chaffee, 1991).

Review of Definition

Review of the definition includes a brief survey of important concepts of the research. Such concepts include the level, nominal and real definition of subjects. The main purpose of review definition is to reexamine and retrospect the concept to ensure that are relevant to the study topic. The step includes identification of definition errors that could lead to making the study losing focus. Each term is redefined and measurement units stated in the research. During the review of the definition, unnecessary information can be eliminated while new details can be updated to the research (Chaffee, 1991).


Specificity is typically applied in the demonstration or evaluation of the accuracy of research. In other words, it provides an opportunity to evaluate the probability of accuracy of research by identification of the presence or absence of important definitions. In case communication research lacks important destinations like the nominal and real definition, there is a high chance that it will become inaccurate. Also, specificity protects the study from the errors of generalization hence allow the researcher to focus on a particular concept. Generalization includes reasoning and researching using broader inferences hence the high level of limitations due to content analysis and lack of direct control over external variables (Chaffee, 1991).


Reification is the processing of relating concrete form to abstract concepts. In other words, it is the processing of converting ideas or theories into something concrete for easy understanding and interpretation. To illustrate, positive facial expression in workers may be a reification of synergy communication strategies at a company. However, reification could be an indication of individual reasoning illogically or use of fallacies in research. If a research views attitude as something physicals, there would be confusion between things and ideas hence leading research problems. However, reifications allow putting the abstraction of a language into a tangible understanding of a research concept (Chaffee, 1991).

Invariance of usage

Invariance of usage describes various casualties in communication research. Casual evaluation is the problem of establishing whether the relationship between variable X or variable Y is casual. Communication research methodology, invariance usage provides the most reliable test in deciding factors that lead to a change in social behavior. Invariance of usage is both applied in experimental and non-experimental context since it focuses on casual assessment. Also, it can be used to identify whether a provided measure is a conceptually meaningful manner by including different genders or cultural background of research participants (Chaffee, 1991).

Modification definition

Modification definition includes the act of changing important concept with the aim of making them relevant to the study. The advanced of terms imply that the researcher has advanced their study of related literature. Modification definition in a synergy communication research can be categorized as minor and major modifications. Minor changes include proposed alternatives that have a minimal impact on the risk-benefit of the research. Example of a minor change is increasing or reducing the number of participants in the research. On the other hand, major modifications are alternatives that led to change in the research design (Chaffee, 1991).

Operational procedure

It is the process by which a concept is to be viewed (as a participant observation) measured and operated as in the experiment. In synergy communication research, it includes detailed rules, equipment, scales, steps and instrument used in the measurement of the concept. Synergy communication research procedures can be generalized as observation or measurement using the two terms in a broader perspective. The operational procedure allows the synergy in mass media communication research to develop a linkage between concepts and its real-world interpretations (Chaffee, 1991).

Passive versus active observation

The selection between created events and naturally occurring events is determined by the reviewing the researcher’s concept to an extent according to the intellectual style. Researchers tend to focus on one approach and not both. Some communication researchers maximize ties to what other people do by limiting their study to passive observation. On the other hand, active observation includes observing phenomena and recording them. The selection of a particular approach for the synergy in communication media research requires a great deal of study and experimental methods. Active research ensures that difficult observation in the study is made and recorded for analysis (Chaffee, 1991).

Units of observation and sampling

Units of observation and sampling are the collection of singular objects that the researcher observed. In the synergy communication research in mass media, the observational unit may or may not correspond to a unit of analysis of the study. In case there is no correspondence, obtained data from the observational unit can be aggregated to give variable units of analysis measures (Chaffee, 1991).

Evaluation of operational definition

Operational definitions are procedures through which the study concepts are observed, measured or manipulated. Evaluation of operational definition ensures that such procedures are accurate in the observation, sample survey, and experimental setting. In synergy media communication research, evaluation of operational definition includes testing the specific end terms that define the research objectives (Chaffee & Schleuder, 1986). The stage also includes the review of ethics as well as consequences of participating in the research. According to Chaffee (1991), it involves reviewing the measurement of specific sub-concepts or dimensions of the concept.

Comparison to prior literature

It involves the use of library resources and scholarly articles to identify how previous research used the concept. The study uses the same procedure for other concepts identified. The stage includes the collection of literature, organization, and structuring. The research attempts to identify the different conceptual meaning that has attributed to the concept in reference to previous research. Also, the researcher identifies the various usage of concepts and determine the most promising for the study. Comparison of prior literature ensures empowers the researcher to identify previous research limitation and research gap hence work towards improving research in the mass communication field (Chaffee & Schleuder, 1986).

Empirical description

Empirical descriptions recommend the researcher to go back into the literature and identify the most promising study, asses its properties of an operational definition of the chosen concept. important features such as median, mode, mean and the range of variation describe the quality of the literature (Chaffee, 2014). Also, the sections can focus on the research limitations acknowledged as well as options for future studies. The synergy research study can involve an explanation of each concept and its connection or casualty with another concept that the study will adopt. An empirical definition is best accomplished by the use of the rule of inclusion and exclusion. It helps the researcher to adjudicate the literature and focus on meaningful information for the research (Chaffee, 2014).

A modified and final definition

This includes the development of a tentative and conceptual definition. According to Chaffee (1996), communication researchers need to use a literature search and the synthesis of the empirical description to develop a modified and final definition. The researcher needs to review each concept’s essential elements that could impact the study. Dimensions is also a critical factor in the establishment of a modified and final definition. Distinguishable parts are more abstract concepts hence higher levels of coherence. Multiple definitions of concept could have different antecedents hence there is a need to consider the hypothesis statement in the final definition (Chaffee, 1991).


  • Chaffee, S. H. (1991). Communication concepts 1: Explication.
  • Chaffee, S. H. (2014). Thinking about theory. In An integrated approach to communication theory and research (pp. 27-43). Routledge.
  • Chaffee, S. H., & Schleuder, J. (1986). Measurement and effects of attention to media news. Human communication research13(1), 76-107.
  • Huang, Y. H. (2006). Crisis situations, communication strategies, and media coverage: A multicase study revisiting the communicative response model. Communication research33(3), 180-205.
  • McLeod, J. M. (2001). Steven Chaffee and the future of political communication research. Political communication18(2), 215-224.
  • Thorson, E., & Moore, J. (Eds.). (2013). Integrated communication: Synergy of persuasive voices. Psychology Press.


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