The Development of Communication Models

November 2020 No Comments

Authors | Editors: Kuznar, L. (NSI, Inc.); Yager, M. (NSI, Inc.)

Quick Look Preview


In July 2019, the Joint Requirements Oversight Council (JROC) endorsed a list of specific actions for the Operations in the Information Environment (OIE) DOTMLPF-P Change Recommendation (DCR). A requested action under item 1b asks for a “process to develop a baseline understanding of the IE (Information Environment) and subsequently modify the model of relevant actor perceptions, attitudes, and other elements that drive behaviors.” To that end, Lt. Gen Mark Kelly, Operations (AF/A3), requested Strategic Multilayer Assessment (SMA) initiate an effort to better understand and integrate information and influence into operational-level planning, execution, and assessment activities across the competition continuum.

Information influences behavior through the process of communication, and so this report provides a review of formative communication models that underly the baseline SMA Effective Communication Framework (Modeling Effective Communication), developed in support of the A3 request. That generic model of communication establishes a baseline understanding of the information environment (IE), as well as the role of relevant actor perceptions and attitudes that drive behavior. The models reviewed in this report are considered key developments in the theory of communication that undergird that model, and each provides a critical insight into operating in the IE.

Models are essential in the sciences for focusing attention on relevant variables and exposing predictive, or when possible, causal relationships (Bankes, Lempert, & Popper, 2002; Cioffi-Revilla, 2014). The models reviewed here are essential for decomposing the communication process into its constituent elements, and the lines, arrows, and shapes in the models described below represent different communication interactions. These interactions provide hypotheses to be tested when thinking about and conducting IO, and the elements define what aspects of the communication process need to be measured in order to provide measures of effectiveness (MOEs), not just measures of performance (MOPs).

The history of models of communication reveals that as new models were created, the concept of the information environment was expanded; that is, more variables contributing to communication and their interactions were considered. The report begins with a review of linear models that describe communication as a process of transmitting a message from a sender to a receiver. A review of transactional models that describe how the exchange and interpretation of messages between communicators creates meaning follows. Subsequent Quicklook reports describe how strategic communication models build upon this basis to model how communication can be done effectively.

Download Publication