Managing uncertainty: Conceptualizations and measurement.

Paper presented at the ICA convention, 2000

Authors: Phillip G. Clampitt, M. Lee Williams


Uncertainty is the inherent state of nature, pervading organizational life and communication. The purpose of this research project was to develop measures to assess how both organizations and employees manage uncertainty. Three studies were conducted. In Study 1, we developed scale items and a tentative factor structure. In Study 2, we refined the instruments and assessed the psychometric qualities of the scales by testing them on another sample of subjects. In Study 3, we created the Uncertainty Management Matrix by merging the individual employee measure of uncertainty management and the organizational measure. The matrix suggests that four different uncertainty climates can be found in an organization. The matrix also implies that communication plays a different role in the uncertainty management process on the individual and organizational levels. Finally, we examined the implications of the research for organizational communication scholars.